I have to agree that most of the beautiful and amazing cities in Japan are located on their largest island, which is Honshu Island, where Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka are located. However, it doesn’t mean that the cities located on smaller islands around Honshu Island are less appealing compared to the cities on the mainland. One of the proofs for my sentence could be found in Fukuoka, which is a city of 1.5 million citizen that was as one of the most liveable city on earth. Great views, relaxing atmosphere, and rich in culture, Fukuoka is the place for those who wants to take a break from the fast-paced cities to the north.
Located on Kyushu Island, which is the third largest and the most southwesterly island in Japan, is the most populous city in Kyushu where there are about 1.5 million people living in there. Situated on the northern shore of the Kyushu Island, Fukuoka has become Japan’s 6th largest city, having passed the population of Kyoto from July 2011. The natural beauty that surrounds the city added with the vibrant urban-life makes the city become one of the best city to live in Japan. The local people who are warmhearted and friendly also become one of the points that enrich Fukuoka.
Fukuoka itself was originated as two cities which are Fukuoka and Hakata, where Fukuoka was the home for nobles and Hakata was the home to the merchants. The two different cities was combined in 1889, the name Fukuoka applied to both became the Fukuoka that exists today. Though the fusion of Fukuoka and Hakata had happened a long time ago, the people who are living in the formerly area of Hakata still think of their home as Hakata.
The residents who are living in the formerly area of Hakata are still maintaining the legacy of Hakata as well, one of the example is the vibrant craft industry that manufactures traditional items, such as the ningyo and textiles. Ningyo is traditional Japanese doll, most show famous Japanese characters, such as kabuki, sumo, religious figures, and samurai, and Hakata is renowned for their finest quality of ningyo. Today, Hakata dolls is one of the most famous products from Fukuoka, along with local baseball team the SoftBank Hawks, who won the 2011 Nippon Series Baseball Tournament, its high and new-tech industries, sustainable energy, robotics, electronics, and the bijin (beautiful woman) that we can find in every part of the city (note that some of the most famous Japanese celebrities, such as Ayumi Hamasaki, YUI, Noriko Sakai, etc, are from Fukuoka).
Still about Hakata, another famous things about Hakata is Hakata Gion Yamakasa Festival. Hakata Gion Yamakasa Festival is one of the most vibrant festivals in Japan and it’s held every year during the first half of July. In this festival, floats called kazariyamakasa that are made by the skilled artisans are set up in different parts of the city. These huge floats are decorated sumptuously with lots of dolls illustrating historical tales and legends.
The festival reaches its climax in the early morning hours of July 15, when there is a spectacular time trial race. In the race, seven neighbourhood’s of Fukuoka Hakata district compete in pushing beautifully decorated smaller festival floats, called kakiyama, along a 5 kilometre long course through the city. Several hundred men wearing traditional costumes, struggling to carry these one ton floats where there are also tens of thousands of spectators turn up to throw water on the men and cheer their team on along the way is such a breath-taking event to watch.
Aside from the traditional things that you can find in Fukuoka, Fukuoka is not lack of modern things to offer to the visitors as well. There are lots of choices of department stores, shopping malls, and restaurants in Fukuoka. The British city magazine “Monocle” once selected Fukuoka as the most enjoyable city for shopping in world in 2008.
One of the most famous shopping complex in Fukuoka is Canal City which is a “city within a city” that houses about 250 shops, cafes, restaurants, a theater, game center, cinemas, two hotels, and a canal running through the complex. Canal City is designed with creative and interesting colours and shape, making it as a compliment to the traditional cultures in the city. The artificial canal runs through the middle of this five floored entertainment complex, giving a natural touch and relaxing atmosphere for the people who are planning on shopping.
For those who seek for a more traditional restaurants could have their meals in yatai, which is an open-air food stalls, that are also serving as one of the best-known features of Fukuoka. Yatai can generally seat about seven or eight people and provide the magnificent city view of Fukuoka. Typical yaitai dishes include mouth-watering yakitori and, of course, one of the most famous dish from Fukuoka which is Hakata ramen. There are about 150 yatai across the city and they are typically open from around 6pm to around 2am, however, the best place to eat in yatai is on the southern end of Nakasu Island, that are located along the river providing an amazing night view of Fukuoka.
As I mentioned above, one of the most famous dishes from Fukuoka is Hakata ramen. The typical of Hakata Ramen has a rich, milky, pork-bone tonkotsu broth, and rather think, non-curly, resilient noodles. Hakata ramen also often uses distinctive toppings, such as crushed garlic, beni shoga (pickled ginger), sesame seeds, and spicy pickled mustard greens (karashi takana) are left on the tables are left of the tables for the customers to use it themselves. Since the popularity and the delicacy of Hakata ramen, there are several chain Hakata ramen shops spread across Japan and even in the other countries.
Along with Hakata ramen, fugu (blowfish) cuisine is also one of the most renowned dish from Fukuoka. Maybe some of the people are kind of afraid to try to have the delicacy of fugu since the fishes are poisonous, however, the dish can only be prepared by licensed chefs who know how to remove the toxin. Fugu can be enjoyed as a sashimi, in a hot-pot with vegetables, or even boiled with rice. I guess everything dangerous is always good, isn’t it? Therefore, for the adventurous eater, eating fugu is a must-thing-to-do in Fukuoka.
I guess those things about Fukuoka that I covered in this article have more than enough to be a proof that the cities that are not located on the Honshu Island are not less attractive compared with the cities on the mainland. Fukuoka is one of the best examples and places for holiday and enjoying the fusion of modern culture with the traditional culture. Thus, for those who are tired of the fast-paced life in the cities, enjoy Fukuoka.
The data and the pictures used in this post are taken from :
– Holland Herald March 2013