About half an hour from Fukuoka is Nanzo-in Temple. Nanzo-in Temple is the home of the reclining Buddha. I've been wanting to see it in person for a while and figured since we were in Fukuoka we should take the detour to go visit it. Even though I had looked online about this temple often, I didn't know there was more to it than just the reclining Buddha. I also didn't know it was halfway up a mountain. We had quite a few surprises waiting for us.
After all the chaos from the Balls was over and done with, Jeremy and I escaped the base and traveled south to Fukuoka. Ever since we arrived in Iwakuni, I had wanted to go see the German Christmas Markets in Fukuoka but never had the chance to see it the previous Christmases. There are two Christmas Markets in Fukuoka, one at Hakata Station and one at Tenjin Station. Since the one at Hakata Station was bigger we decided to go to that one. Jeremy and I like to travel cheap so we took the back roads from Iwakuni to Fukuoka and it took 8 hours to get to Fukuoka. Had we taken the Sanyo Expressway, it would have only taken 3.5 hours but it would have cost us $60 one way. The drive was nice though and we only got stuck in traffic once.
The ITT tourguide explained that the festival we were about to see was started over 200 years ago. The Tobata region had suffered an epidemic in the early 1800's. The people in the area prayed for the epidemic to be lifted from their lands with this ritual. Since this worked they continued to hold it every year to keep the epidemic from coming back.