JSPS Quarterly
No.54 2015 Winter

Introducing Japan: Fukuoka City

Dr. Soma Purkait

Fukuoka is Kyushu’s largest and Japan’s seventh most populated city. It is the capital of Fukuoka Prefecture. The city and its environs are well connected by subway; it takes only 10 minutes to reach the center of the city’s Hakata district from Fukuoka Airport, which has flights to both domestic and international destinations. With its friendly atmosphere and rich food culture, Fukuoka ranks the 12th most livable city in Monocle’s 2015 Quality of Life Survey.

Many of the city’s best tourist attractions are located in the Gion district, which is full of historical temples and shrines, including the Tocho-ji temple with its 10.8-meter Great Buddha; Shofuku-ji temple, Japan’s first Zen temple; and the 8th century Kushida Shrine, the starting point for the famous float-pulling race featured as part of the 700-year-old Hakata Gion Yamakasa Festival. A short walk from Gion takes one to the Kawabata shopping arcade, Hakata’s oldest shopping street, which connects to yet another attraction, Canal City Hakata. Fukuoka city also has several nice parks. For example, the Fukuoka Castle ruins and Ohori-koen park are two of the best places to view beautiful cherry blossoms.

Though not a typical tourist attraction, the Itoshima area where Kyushu University’s Ito campus (Japan’s largest campus) is situated is a wonderful place surrounded by mountains, rice fields and the seaside. It’s a place where people enjoy several outdoor activities such as hiking, camping, beach walking, and surfing. You can also purchase fresh Itoshima fruits and vegetables at the “Ito Sai Sai” marketplace, one of Kyushu’s largest farmers’ market.

Tenmangu Shrine

Tenmangu Shrine

Another interesting spot in Fukuoka Prefecture is Dazaifu city, located on the outskirts of Fukuoka. The city also has several beautiful temples and shrines, the most famous of which is Tenmangu that enshrines Sugawarano Michizane, the deity of education. Having over 6,000 plum trees it is one of the most popular spots for enjoying fragrant plum blossoms during the period from late February to mid-March.

For eating, I recommend that you visit city’s famous yatai food stalls in the Tenjin and Nakasu areas where you can have Hakata ramen, thin noodles in a thick, creamy tonkotsu pork-bone soup. You can enjoy a teishoku lunch containing fresh seafood and mentaiko spicy cod roe at a very reasonable price at Chikae restaurant in Akasaka. Near the Ito campus, I would recommend Pizzeria da Ciruzzo for a great pizza bash.

Fukuoka City on the map of Japan

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JSPS Quarterly No.54 2015