Roots of Japan

Fukuoka

Kyushu, the southwest island of Japan. Why is it called Kyushu, meaning “Nine Provinces”, if there are only seven prefectures? The origins date back to the time when Ryosei Provinces were used for geographical division, this lasted until the beginning of the Meiji period (1868 - 1912). The island was given a generic name which meant nine countries as it consisted of nine countries or provinces.

Today we are featuring Fukuoka, located in the northern part of Kyushu island.

It has an area of 4,987㎢ and a population of 5.1 million, the largest of Kyushu island. There has been an increasing trend of foreign tourists in Fukuoka, due to the many direct routes to Hakata port, Kita-Kyushu port, Fukuoka airport and Kita-Kyushu airport from major cities in Southeast Asia, including Taiwan and China. From Fukuoka, the air travel distance to Busan in Korea is about 200km, Shanghai in China is around 850km and other major cities in neighboring countries are within 1,000km.

Fukuoka is growing quickly as a tourist destination! Here is a selection of some of the best spots to visit.
1/ Kokura Castle
2/ Canal City Hakata
3/ Uminonakamichi Seaside Park
4/ Ohori Park
5/ Hakata Station
6/ Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine
7/ Nokonoshima Island
8/ Komyozenji Temple
9/ Mojiko Retro
10/ Nanzoin Temple

Uminonakamichi Seaside Park (3) is a beautiful public park that has seasonal flowers blooming all year round. They also hold all kinds of events. Interact with animals in the park’s Animal Forest and participate in environmental learning and get hands-on experience in the Eco-Friendly Forest. Because it also has a children's playground, it's easy to have fun all day long. Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine (6) is dedicated to Sugawara Michizane, the god of learning.

There are approximately 6,000 plum trees within the grounds, reflecting Michizane’s love for the trees. The most famous is the sacred Tobiume - or flying plum tree. The best time to see them is from around the middle of February to the beginning of March. Go ahead and try some of the plum-themed food sold along the entrance path to the shrine! Nokonoshima (7) is a small, isolated island just ten minutes away from Noko Ferry Terminal in Nishi Ward, Fukuoka city.

Seasonal flowers can be seen blooming all over the island. Visitors will also enjoy checking out the many local specialties. Fukuoka's modern waterfront, Seaside Momochi, is an area with attractions such as the Fukuoka City Museum and Fukuoka Tower. Fukuoka Tower is lit up for various events throughout the year, each time giving it a different appearance.

Munakata Taisha, a collection of three Shinto shrines, was registered as a World Heritage site in 2017. Also, in 2012 Kawachi Wisteria Garden was listed as one of the “10 Beautiful Places in the World That Actually Exist” and “10 Most Breathtaking Views in the World”. Kawachi Wisteria Garden is open during the wisteria season from late April to the middle of May. For a short time, you'll also find azaleas in bloom.

From the middle of November to the beginning of December you can also enjoy the garden's autumn colors. The opening date in spring / autumn will depend on the weather conditions. During peak season you may need to purchase admission tickets in advance, so check before you go.

Spring is all about Sakura, Japanese cherry blossoms, while Autumn brings vibrant colors. Here are some of the most well-known places in Fukuoka.

Best spots for Cherry blossoms Best spots for Autumn colors
1/ Maizuru Park 1/ Akizuki Castle Ruins
2/ Katsuyama Park 2/ Hyugamikyo
3/ Akizuki Sugi no Baba 3/ Fujieshi Gyorakuen
4/ Amagi Park 4/ Mount Hiko (Hikosan)
5/ Nishi Park 5/ Kiyomizu Temple Honbo Teien Garden

Unique to Fukuoka is the combination of modern buildings that line city streets with places that are well-known for preserving nature. There are many other amazing spots in the area worth checking out! Feel yourself relax as you soak in the beautiful scenery. There are five festivals of special importance to Fukuoka called “Fukuoka's 5 Top Festivals”.

1/ Oniyo (Fire Festival) (Kurume City : December 31st - January 7th)
2/ Kawawatari Jinkosai Festival (Tagawa City : 3rd Saturday and following Sunday in May)
3/ Hakata Gion Yamakasa Festival (Hakata Ward, Fukuoka City : July 1st - 15th)
4/ Kokura Gion Daiko Festival (Kokurakita Ward, Kitakyushu City : Held over 3 days, with the middle day falling on the 3rd Saturday of July)
5/ Tobata Gion Oyamagasa Festival (Tobata Ward, Kitakyushu City : Held over 3 days, with the middle day falling on the 4th Saturday of July.

Oniyo Festival (1) is the oldest festival, dating back an incredible 1600 years! It's counted as one of Japan's Three Great Fire Festivals. Hakata Gion Yamakasa Festival (3) has a history of over 700 years. In Hakata Ward, Fukuoka City, a Gion Matsuri is held in dedication to Susanoo-no-Mikoto, the shinto god of the sea and storms, who is enshrined at Kushida Shrine. Together with the Tobata Gion Oyamagasa Festival (5), these float festivals have been added to the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list. With the right timing, you too can join in and enjoy scenes of Japan that can only be viewed during the festival season!

Fukuoka is often called a foodie's paradise, it's easy to see why with so much delicious food to be found. Many people come to experience the food culture, not simply for sightseeing. Here's a list of some local specialties sure to make your mouth water.
1/ Hakata Ramen
2/Mentaiko (spicy marinated pollock roe)
3/ Motsunabe (local hot pot dish)
4/Hakata Mizutaki (chicken hot pot dish)
5/ Yakitori (grilled chicken skewers)

Mackerel tends to spoil fast, so you’ll often see it grilled or lightly pickled, but Fukuoka is home to some of the freshest, most delicious mackerel. Goma Saba—raw mackerel with a special dressing of sesame and soy sauce, is Fukuokan soul food!

Many believe udon actually originated in Hakata. Here in the middle of Hakata, “Hakata Udon (Fukuoka Udon)” is loved by the local people. Hakata udon is characterized by its soft and tender noodles and soup stock made from dried sardines, dried bonito, dried mackerel, flying fish and kelp.

Hakata in Fukuoka is also famous for its Yatai (Food Stalls). You can find a great selection of dishes on offer, from classic ramen to Italian and French food. To fully enjoy dining shoulder to shoulder in the small space of a Yanai, it’s a good idea to reduce the amount of luggage you carry. Yatai typically open from around 6:30pm and many are closed on Sundays, so keep this in mind when planning a visit.

There are over 150 yatai throughout Fukuoka but that number is shrinking. If you have a chance to visit Fukuoka, how about spending a night at one of these Yatai? Sightseeing, shopping, great food, a merry night drinking at a Yatai... Fukuoka is a great place for everyone, from children to adults, to have a full day of fun.

There are just too many exciting attractions to be able to mention all of them here!
Immerse yourself in Fukuoka - a place to have a great time with great food!

It is my opinion and summary. Please acknowledge that there are various opinions.