難波の南蛮、戎橋の夷。

Fukuoka City! Part 1- First Impressions

Occasionally, some great deals crop up in Japanese air fare and lodging.  My wife is pretty savvy to deals and discounts, so we seized the initiative to travel to Fukuoka City for our second anniversary.

This was my first ever visit to Kyushu, the southwestern of Japan’s main core islands.  Fukuoka, on the northern coast of Kyushu, is its most populous city and one of Japan’s major urban areas.  It’s also one of its fastest-growing major cities.

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Arriving after dark, the first thing that impressed me about Fukuoka is its nightlife.
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People were just out on the streets in numbers after dark, even on a weeknight.  Even small, alleyway restaurants looked nearly full.  The crowds had a very different feel from other major Japanese cities I’ve been to- a lot more young working men, rather than older office workers or fashion-conscious youth.  There’s another thing that’s famous about Fukuoka nightlife, though…

The vendors!

Yatai!

 

Yatai are essentially temporary little restaurants set up along the river, able to accommodate a handful of people.  They’re a Fukuoka institution, specializing in local cuisine like pork ramen, charcoal roast chicken and pork, and mentaiko (spicy cod eggs).  After sampling as much as I could, it was time to rest before a day of history.


 

Fukuoka is a very ancient history, but after centuries of change, the anti-feudal demolitions of the Meiji Reformation, American bombing of the city, and madcap postwar construction, not a lot remains in the city itself.  Fukuoka does boast one of the three Hachiman shrines celebrated as Japan’s greatest since the Edo era, though.  Funny thing, I had just visited one of the other two earlier.
As an aside, it’s interesting that the Edo Japanese were really fond of making lists of stuff they liked.  Rather a lot like the internet these days…

 

…anyway,

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Hakozaki Shrine

The Hakozaki area was on the outskirts of Fukuoka during the war, and so avoided damage.

Thus, the shrine buildings have survived all the way from the 16th century, predating the Tokugawa Shogunate.

The shrine buildings have survived all the way from the 16th century, predating the Tokugawa Shogunate.

 

Hakozaki shows a more austere and imposing style of architecture than Iwashimizu, the other of the great three Hachiman shrines I've visited.

Hakozaki shows a more austere and imposing style of architecture than Iwashimizu, the other of the great three Hachiman shrines I’ve visited.

 

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Hakozaki Shrine was also a beachhead in the 13th century Mongol invasion of Japan.

Before the current structures were built, Hakozaki Shrine was a beachhead in the 13th century Mongol invasions of Japan.

 

The Mongols may even have charged right past this very tree, given that it's roughly a thousand years old...

The Mongols may even have charged right past this very tree, given that it’s roughly eight hundred years old…

 

There’s a lot more to see, but I don’t want to make this post too long.  Soon enough, soon enough.

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One response

  1. Listmania

    January 18, 2015 at 12:59 AM

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