The hydrofoil ferry between Japan and Korea lands at Fukuoka on the Japan side, and I spent a few days there on my return trip before taking the bullet train back to Kobe. With 1.5 million people, Fukuoka is the largest city on the island of Kyūshū. You can see it on this map I dug up.

Japan Map

Kobe, by the way, is just west of Osaka.

Fukuoka is a nice city, both relaxed and lively. It has been the gateway to the mainland for as long as people have been making the trip, and is possibly the oldest city in Japan, although you wouldn’t know it from looking at it. Current icons of the city include buildings like Fukuoka Tower, bristling with communications equipment . . .

Fukuoka Tower

. . . and Canal City, a large shopping and entertainment complex, which in addition to stores, includes dozens of restaurants, a cinema, a theater (for live theatre), and two hotels.

Fukuoka Canal City

I just stopped by Canal City for lunch and then moved on. I’ve never been much for malls, even über-malls.

But while I’m on the topic, Fukuoka’s most famous bit of architecture is probably the ACROS Building. ACROS – Asian CrossRoads Over the Sea – houses offices, conference facilities, a symphony hall, and an art gallery. Three sides of the building are gleaming but unremarkable glass . . .

Fukuoka ACROS 1

. . . but the other side is a step garden that blends the building into the adjacent park.

Fukuoka ACROS 2

Another thing many people will think of if you mention Fukuoka is riverside ramen stands. These stands, called yatai (“carts”), are related to the food stalls ubiquitous at festivals throughout Japan, but I’m told that Fukuoka’s numerous yatai, out every evening, came about during the hard years following World War II. Inside a yatai, about a dozen people crowd around the steamy counter, seated at benches and shielded from the elements by plastic tarps.

Fukuoka Yatai 2

Not all ramen is equal. Some yatai had long lines outside and others were looking rather lonely.

Fukuoka Yatai 1


Alright, blast it, this post is taking too long, so this will be part one. More later.


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One Response to “Fukuoka”

  1. Nicole Says:

    Wow, that fourth side of the ACROS building is really something. Thank you for the pictures – words alone just wouldn’t suffice. And, I liked your comment that not all ramen is equal!! I’m eagerly awaiting part two……

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