About Fukuoka Japan


Fukuoka was rated the "16th Most Livable City" and the "Best Retail City" in the July 2009 Edition of Monocle Magazine
and was selected as one of Newsweek's 10 "Most Dynamic Cities" in its July 2006 Edition

History and Basic Background of Fukuoka
Because of Fukuoka's proximity to the Asian continent, Fukuoka City has a nearly 2,000-year history as a trading port. Being the nearest city to Korea and China, for a lot of Japan's earlier history Fukuoka was the city which those entering or leaving the country passed through . As such Fukuoka was a gateway to influences from the continent especially from China which at that time was one of the world's most advanced civilizations. In the Edo Period an ancient golden seal, the "Kin-in" which had been handed to a local ruler in Fukuoka by the Empereor Guan Wan of the Han Dynasty, was discovered in Fukuoka and symbolizes the relationship between Fukuoka and China. From the 7th to 11th centuries, the area prospered thanks to its essential role as a point of economic and cultural exchange between Japan and Asia and it is said that Fukuoka is maybe  the oldest city in Japan.  As a successful city and a gateway to the main continent it attracted the attention of the Mongol Empire starting in 1268 and from this time Kublai Khan of the Mogol Empire  repeatedly sent envoys to make Japan sucombe to his will, however, the shogunate resisted and to protect themselves built a stone wall, 2-3m high and 20km  in length bordering the coast of Hakata Bay.  You can still see the remains of the Mogol Wall and you can see artifacts of the invasions at Genko Historical Museum. In the invasion launched in 1281 a massive attack was made and Fukuoka prefecture was overcome by the numbers of Mongolian soldiers and the walls could not help but as luck would have it the Japanse received aid in the form of a typhoon which struck a cruching blow to the Mongolian troops and saved the day. This typhoon is actually the origin of the famous Japanese word "Kamikaze" and literally means "Divine Wind".

Origin of the name of the city of Fukuoka and Fukuoka's emergence as the modern city of today.  A powerful daimyo of Chikuzen; Kuroda Nagamasu

Fukuoka first emerged as Kyushu's political, economic, and cultural center in the 1930s. Even though Fukuoka suffered extensive damage during World War II, it recovered and developed into the region's most important city and is now the largest city and metropolitan area west of Osaka. The establishment of national government branch offices, private enterprises, and international organizations has further promoted Fukuoka City's role as the leading administrative city in Kyushu.

Fukuoka's Geography and Climate
Fukuoka, the home of Samurai Interpreters, is located in northern Kyushu, the westernmost of Japan's four major islands. It lies in the center of the Fukuoka Plains and is surrounded on three sides by mountains, opening into the Genkai Sea to the north. Fukuoka's climate is comparable to that of the southern coastal areas of the United States or central and southern Europe. The annual average temperature is 17C (63 F), annual precipitation is 1300 mm (50 in), and there is infrequent snow. Fukuoka is not as seismically active as other areas in Japan, however, it does experience the occasional earthquake.

Places of Interest in Fukuoka

Historical Sights
  • Fukuoka Castle:
  • Fukuoka Castle
    Fukuoka Castle is located in central Fukuoka between Maizuru Castle Park and Ohori Park. The decision to build the castle was made in 1601 by a fuedal lord of Chikusen, Kuroda Nagamasu who received lands around Fukuoka for his service in battle. It was never fully completed and now all that is left are the remaining ruins, the most famous of which are Tamon Turret and Otemon Gate which are about 400 years old, however, in its time Fukuoka Castle was the largest castle in Kyushu. One cannot complain about the surrounding beauty. The castle gardens are wonderful with the beautiful blooming of the plum blossoms in February and the blooming of the Sakura (Cherry Blossoms) in March. In the Cherry Blossom season you will find the grounds full of people picnicing and barbequeing under the trees. And to add to this Fukuoka castle provides a breathtaking view of the city. Having been designated as a Yamanashi Historical Site it is definitely worth visiting.

    Daizaifu Tenmangu Shrine:

    This is a very important shrine within the Shinto faith. The shrine is dedicated to the God of learning; Sugawara no Michizane and is a major tourist spot in Fukuoka. Not only is it famous for its historical and religious status, but also simply for the beauty of the buildings and its grounds, in particular the white plum blossoms which can be seen from January to April. A recommended Daizaifu delicacy called Umegaemochi, a sweet plum rice pastry, is a must for anyone visiting.
    Tenmangu Shrine


Uminonakamichi Seaside Park Fukuoka:

Ohori Park:   

Ohori Park is a nationally famous park built with Chinese styled bridges around a manmade lake that used to be part of the moat of Fukuoka Castle. It is located right next to the centre of Fukuoka City about 5 minutes from Tenjin. Some sections of the lake are open for fishing for those of you who enjoy taking it easy by the side of the lake. For those of you who are more active there are also pedal boats and row boats available for hire and of course there's ice-cream. Inside is a Noh Theatre and a Japanese Garden and the Fukuoka Art Museum and it also hosts the Fukuoka's largest firework festival on the 1st of August of each year which is worth watching.

Fire Festival Ohori

Ohori Japanese Garden

Ohori Park Japanese Garden:    This beautiful Japanese garden is located adjacent to the Fukuoka Art Museum inside Ohori Park but is separated from it by a beautiful white stone wall so you cannot see into it unless you pay the entrance fee and enter through the wooden gates to the other side.  The garden is a gravel garden in Zen style and within the garden there is a quaint traditional style "Sukuya" -styled tea house. It is very pleasant to walk around and relax in and has many beautiful settings of which you can take you can take great photos. The garden contains many features which it might be good to read up on so that you won't miss any of the  meanings associated with them.

Maizuru Castle Park:
These are the gounds surrounding Fukuoka Castle which is about 400 years old and is a great place for rest and relaxation. Especially during the Cherry Blossom season it becomes one of the top locations for Cherry Blossom parties when you will see many people gathered under the Cherry Blossom trees picnicing and barbequeing and of course drinking but even during the other seasons it is certainly a pleasurable place to take a walk and have a coffee.

Maizuru Park
Noko Island

Noko Island: Noko Island is located just a few kilometres from Hakata  Bay and is very easy to get to with the frequent and reliable ferry service. It is a natural park about 150 thousand square meters and filled with flowers all year round. Rape blossoms and Cosmos are the most famous for this area. It is certainly a beautiful area with restaurants, a zoo, mini golf, and Omode-dori which is a reproduced small old town. If you want to stay longer, which you will, there are rental cottages and bungalows available.

  • Fukuoka Art Museum: This museum can be found within the ground of Ohori Park. For those of you interested in art, the collection to be found in Fukuoka Art Museum is definitely worth having a look. It has a large collection of oriental pre-modern artworks as well as modern art and contemporary artworks.
  • Fukuoka Asian Art Museum:  This museum highlights the art works of Asia. It was opened in 1999 and is the only museum in the world to collect and exhibit modern and contemporary art from Aisia and thus allows people to become familiar with Asian arts and culture. It is located in central Fukuoka  in the Riverain Building near Hakata-za, the Kabuki (Japanese traditional) theatre. So you can experience two different art forms in close proximity to each other.
  • Fukuoka City Museum  This museum is located in Momochi close to Seaside Momochi. It holds an impressive collection of ancient and modern artifacts from Japan and Asia. The entrance fee is very is very cheap so it's definitely worth having a look and everyone is free to use the educational  faciites inside such as the information centre, the Aisan experience room and the reading room.
  • Genko Historical Museum:  Also known as the Mongolian Invasions Historical Museum, this museum exhibits historical materials relating to the Mogolian invasions of  northern Kyushu. You can take a look at the armour of the armies of both Japan and Mongolia at the time and crtitically compare the technology of both countries. Also on display are pictures of the Mongolian invasions.
  • Hakata Machiya Folk Museum: The old name for Fukuoka when it was in its historical prime was Hakata and even today the dialect of Fukuoka is still called Hakata dialect.  Here at the Hakata Machiya Folk Museum you can learn all about Hakata culture. You can leatn about the old lifestyle and culture of Fukuoka city in the Meiji and Taisho eras especially about urban living and houses from those times. You can even have a look at a miniture town of Hakata in it's great days. It is located across from the Kushida Shrine  which is famous for holding one of the most famous festivals in Fukuoka City; the Hakata Gion Yamakasa. There are also lectures held on the Hakata dialecct  and demonstrations of traditional hand crafting are also on exhibition.
Conventions Centers and Concert Halls
  • Fukuoka Convention Center: Made up of the Fukuoka International Congress Center, Marine Messe Fukuoka and the Fukuoka Kokusai (International) Center.
    • The Fukuoka International Congress Center offers facilities for large scale conventions including the latest simultaneous interpreter booths and audio/visual equipment to respond to the high demands in the information age. Connected by a walkway to the Sun Palace Hotel makes it the perfect convention location.
    • Marine Messe Fukuoka is a versatile facility used for many different types of events, functioning as a multi-purpose exhibition facility for large scale events, an arena facility for athletics and a hall facility for concerts.
    • Fukuoka Kokusai Center has 5,052 square meters of flat floor space with no protruding pillars and serves as a flexible facility suitable for a variety of activities. The center is home to a wide variety of uses from large-scale exhibitions to sporting events and is capable of accommodating up to 10,000 people.

  • Shikanoshima Beach
  • Itoshima Beach
  • Seaside Momochi

Traditional Japanese Theatres
  • Hakata-za:Hakata-za is located in the Hakata Riverain complex in Nakasu and is a theatre in Fukuoka City famous for its Kabuki plays but also has musicals and modern dramas. Being a modern theatre visablity is very good from all seats. As an art form Kabuki is a truly wonderful experience with the decorative costumes and energetic performances.
  • Ohori Park Noh Theatre:This theatre is located in the beautiful Ohori Park just 5 minutes from the centre of Fukuoka City, Tenjin. There are often free Noh and Kabuki performances held here so if your timing's right you might just get a little bit of Japanese culture for free.

Others Sites of Interest

  • Uminonakamichi Marine World:For those of you who love marine life this is definitely the place to go. Fukuoka's Uminonakamichi Marine World has beautiful and colorful aquarium displays including a gigantic water tank with a depth of 7meters holding 1400 gallons of water housing at least 120 sharks of 20 different kinds and there is also an outdoor dolphin and sea lion show.
  • Fukuoka Tower: Fukuoka Tower is located at the waterfront of Seaside Momochi and it is the tallest seaside tower in Japan. It was constructed in 1989 and is 234m high and covered with 8000 mirrors. You can take the elevator up to 123m for a panoramic view of Fukuoka City. At night the tower lights up which is beautiful to watch. The lighting scheme is different for each season.
  • Sky Dream Fukuoka: Sky Dream Fukuoka is a ferris wheel located next to Evergreen Marinoa shopping arcade. It is 120m high and known to be the tallest ferris wheel in Asia. It takes about 20 minutes to complete one round and offers wonderful views of the city. It is right next to the harbour and so the water view is also splendid. At night it lights up and really does look beautiful by the water.
  • Fukuoka Dome: For all you baseball fans this is a must. Fukuoka Dome is the baseball stadium of Fukuoka and the headquarters of Fukuoka's baseball team Fukuoka Softbank Hawks. It is situated in Hawks Town and right next to Seaside Momochi. It was built in 1993 and can hold 35,695 spectators. Futhermore it was stadium in Japan to have a retractable roof. Not only has Fukuoka Dome hosted one game in each Major League Baseball All Star Series since it opened it has also been used for the music concerts of famous starts such as the Rolling Stones, Bon Jovi, Queen, Micheal Jackson and many others. Just opposite Fukuoka Dome is a Hard Rock Cafe which is a great way to end the day.
  • Fukuoka City Zoological Garden / Fukuoka Municipal Zoo and Botanical Garden: As with most places of interest in Fukuoka, Fukuoka's Municipal Zoo and Botanical Gardens are located in the central city area. The zoo was established in 1953 and has an array of animals to observe including the ones everyone wants to see such as the lions, tigers and polar bears. It is a lovely little zoo and doesn't cost an arm and a leg to enter so people living in the near vicinity may visit as many times as they like during the year and many keep up with the animals. This is also true of the botanical garden which contains about 1300 types of outdoor plants and about 1,200 species of flower in the greenhouses. Surrounding the Fukuoka zoo and botanical garden is a expansive park which is great for walks and getting away from the city while still being in the city.
  • Moo Moo Land (Abura-Yama Ranch): This is a ranch just 30 minutes from the central part of Fukuoka City. Here you can enjoy the farm life of Fukuoka. It is one of the spots where you can find domesticated animals such as pigs, sheep, horses and cows. The ranch is situated on the mountains so while relaxing with nature you can also enjoy the view below. You can also get ice-cream and fresh milk from the cows of the area. It's a great day trip for families with small childen.
  • Abura Mountain (night view): Abura Mountain again is just 30 minutes away from Fukuoka City centre. It offers a wondeful night view of Fukuoka. You cannot describe it in words so you'll just have to go see for yourself. It is a popular spot for couples young and old to just marvel at the city lights.

Shopping in Fukuoka
  • Canal City Hakata: Canal city is a large shopping complex with shops, restuarants and cinema. It's theme is water and there are beautiful waterspurt displays all around the complex. It's beautiful at night.
  • Marinoa City: This is a shopping complex with various outlets with a beautiful ocean view and hosts the largest ferris wheel in Asia the Sky Dream Fukuoka.
  • Hakata Riverrain
  • Tenjin
  • Nakasu
  • Hawks Town

Fukuoka's Baseball Team
Fukuoka's baseball team is called Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks, formerly known as Fukuoka Daiei Hawks. Fukuoka Daiei Hawks won the Pacific League championship in 1999, 2000 and 2003 and also won the Japan Series in 1999 and 2003. Now the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks although not showing the same level of success as in previous years still retain the reputation of their former glory and are still one of the richest teams in Japan.

Food of Fukuoka
  • Hakata Tonkotsu Ramen: This is a pork based soup with thin noodles.
  • Mentaiko
  • Motsunabe (beef or pork offal hot pot)
  • Mizutaki (chicken broth hotpot)

Fukuoka Festivals
  • Hakata Gion Yamakasa: This is an annual festival held in Fukuoka City from July 1st to July 15th by Kushida Shrine. A Yamakasa is a portable shrine used to carry a deity during a festival. At the climax of the festival there is a race between local teams starting at 4.59a.m. in which they carry the Yamakasas and race at full speed for a 5km course departing from Kushida Shrine. The teams compete to finish this course at the fastest time. Many people come to watch this event even though the it starts so early in the morning which means it must be worth seeing.
  • Dontaku Port Festival:This is another annual festival in Fukuoka City and takes place on the 3rd an 4th of May every year. The actual name Dontaku comes from the Dutch word Zondag meaning "Sunday" or "Holiday" and the festival originated in 1179 under a different name. Following this the festival underwent a few changes and obstacles such as being banned and being suspended during the second world war before becoming what it is today. People dress up in costumes and parade through the streets along with floats banging shamoji spoons and dancing. The festival boasts some 2 million participants each year.
  • Fire Festivals

Fukuoka Business

Visit Samurai Interpreters' web site introducing professional interpreters and translators in the Fukuoka region.