Fukuoka © Thorfinn Stainforth
Fukuoka, the largest city on the southern Japanese
island of Kyushu, was the home of the samurai and today is the
terminus of the famous Shinkansen Line bullet train from Tokyo, 730
miles (1,168km) away. Originally, the town of Hakata was the centre
of the region, acting as a gateway to Japan from the rest of Asia,
which lies just across a short strait.
The feudal town of Fukuoka, however, grew rapidly
just across the Nakagawa River, clustered around a castle. In the
late 19th century, the cities united under the combined name of
Fukuoka. The modern city is busy and bustling, with an
international flavour and plenty of innovative architectural
The Tenjin underground shopping arcade brings the
wares of the world to Fukuoka, while a sandbank in the bay has been
turned into the largest entertainment district in western Japan,
with more than 2,000 eating and drinking establishments congregated
under the neon lights.
The Naka River promenade and riverfront park make for
pleasant strolls, while top class theatres, theme parks, and art
establishments abound. There are some sightseeing attractions in
the city itself, and the surrounding area in Kyushu Island has
plenty to offer within easy reach of the city.