Fukuoka, Fukuoka

is the capital city of Fukuoka Prefecture and is situated on the northern shore of the island of Kyūshū in Japan, across the Korea Strait from South Korea's Busan.

It is the most populous city in Kyūshū, followed by Kitakyūshū. It is the largest city and metropolitan area west of Osaka. The city was designated on April 1, 1972 by government ordinance. Greater Fukuoka (福岡都市圏) with 2.5 million people (2005 Census), is part of the heavily industrialized North Kyūshū zone.


Fukuoka (the area of Kashii, Hakata, Sawara and Imazu) is said to be the oldest city in Japan, because it is the nearest city to China and Korea. The area around Fukuoka is among the oldest non-Jōmon settlements in Japan. Dazaifu was an administrative capital in 663 A.D., but some say a prehistoric capital was in the area. Ancient texts such as the Kojiki and archaeology confirm this was a very critical place in the founding of Japan. Some scholars even go as far as to claim it was the first place outsiders and the Imperial Family set foot, but like many early Japan origin theories, it remains contested. See History of Japan. Fukuoka is sometimes still referred to as Hakata, the central ward of the city.

Mongol invasions (1274–1281)

Fukuoka's Hakata Bay is Japan's gateway to Korea and China. Gateways, of course, attract interest; after having conquered and terrorised Asia, the great Mongol Kublai Khan of the Mongol Empire turned his attention to Japan starting in 1268, exerting a new external pressure on Japan with which it had no experience. Kublai Khan first sent an envoy to Japan to make the Shogunate acknowledge Khan's suzerainty. The Kamakura shogunate refused. Mongolia repeatedly sent envoys thereafter, each time urging the Shogunate to accept their proposal, but to no avail.

In 1274 Kublai Khan mounted an invasion of the northern part of Kyūshū with a fleet of 900 ships and 33,000 troops, which included troops from Goryeo on the Korean peninsula. This first invasion was compromised by a combination of incompetence and storms.

After the first invasion of 1274, Japanese samurai built a stone barrier 20 kilometers in length bordering the coast of Hakata Bay in what is now Fukuoka city. The wall, between 2–3 metres in height and having a base width of 3 metres, was constructed between 1276 and 1277 and was excavated again in the 1930s.

Kublai sent another envoy to Japan in 1279. At that time, Hōjō Tokimune of the Hōjō clan (1251–1284) was the Eighth Regent. Not only did he decline the offer, but he beheaded the five Mongolian emissaries after summoning them to Kamakura. Infuriated, Kublai made another attack on Fukuoka Prefecture in 1281, mobilizing 140,000 soldiers and 4,000 ships. The Japanese defenders, numbering around 40,000, were no match for the Mongols and the invasion force made it as far as Dazaifu, 15 kilometers south of the city of Fukuoka. However, the Japanese were aided by another typhoon which struck a crushing blow to the Mongolian troops, and the invasion was thwarted.

It was this typhoon that came to be called the Kamikaze (Divine Wind).

Formation of the modern city (1889)

Fukuoka was formerly the residence of the powerful daimyo of Chikuzen Province, and played an important part in the medieval history of Japan. The renowned temple of Tokugawa Ieyasu in the district was destroyed by fire during the Boshin war of 1868.

The modern city was formed on April 1, 1889, with the merger of the former cities of Hakata and Fukuoka. Historically, Hakata was the port and merchant district, and was more associated with the area's culture and remains the main commercial area today. On the other hand, the Fukuoka area was home to many samurai, and its name has been used since Kuroda Nagamasa, the first daimyo of Chikuzen Province, named it after his birthplace in Okayama Prefecture and the “old Fukuoka” is the main shopping area and now called Tenjin.

When Hakata and Fukuoka decided to merge, a meeting was held to decide the name for the new city. Hakata was initially chosen, but a group of samurai crashed the meeting and forced those present to choose Fukuoka as the name for the merged city. However, Hakata is still used to reference to the Hakata area of the city and, most famously, to refer to the city's train station, Hakata Station, and dialect, Hakata-ben.

20th century

  • 1903: Fukuoka Medical College, a campus associated with Kyoto Imperial University, is founded. In 1911, the college is renamed to Kyūshū Imperial University and established as a separate entity.
  • 1910: Fukuoka streetcar service begins. (The service ran until 1979.)
  • 1929: Flights commence along the Fukuoka-Osaka-Tokyo route.
  • 1945: Saturation bombing of Japanese cities commences on Honshū with Fukuoka one of the targets. Vivisections of American POWs are performed at Kyūshū Imperial University Hospital.
  • 1947: First Fukuoka Marathon.
  • 1951: Fukuoka airport opens.
  • 1953: Fukuoka Zoo opens.
  • 1981: Subway commences service.
  • 1988: Osaka's pro baseball team, the Nankai Hawks, are moved to Fukuoka and renamed the Fukuoka Daiei Hawks. (Renamed the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks in 2004).
  • 1995: ACROS (Asian CrossRoads Over the Sea), a multipurpose convention and cultural center, is founded to encourage increased relations with other Asian countries. It is located downtown in Tenjin, and features a large park, terraced gardens, a library and other facilities for encouraging peaceful relations with other Asian cultures.

21st century

  • 2005: Fukuoka city subway Nanakuma Line started operation.


Fukuoka is bordered on three sides by mountains and opens, on the north, to the Sea of Genkai. Much of the city is now built on reclaimed land, with ongoing developments in Higashi-ku building more artificial islands.

It is located 1,100 km from Tokyo.


Along with much of the prefecture, Fukuoka City has a moderate climate with an annual average temperature of 16.3 °C, average humidity of 70%, 1,811 annual daylight hours and 205 cm of precipitation. Roughly 40% of the year is cloudy.

Winter temperatures rarely drop below 0 °C and it rarely snows. Spring is warm and more sunny, with cherry blossoms appearing in late March or early April. The rainy season (tsuyu) lasts for approximately six weeks through June and July, during which time the humidity is very high and temperatures hover between 25 °C and 30 °C. Summers are humid and hot, with temperatures peaking around 37 °C. Fall, often considered to be Fukuoka's best season, is mild and dry, though the typhoon season runs between August and September.


Fukuoka is not as seismically active as many other parts of Japan, but does experience occasional earthquakes. The most powerful recent earthquake registered a lower 6 of maximum 7 of the Japanese intensity scale and hit at 10:53 am local time on March 20, Easter Sunday 2005, killing one person and injuring more than 400. The epicentre of the earthquake was in the Sea of Genkai, along a yet-undiscovered extension of the Kego fault that runs through the centre of Fukuoka. Genkai island, a part of Nishi-ku, was the most severely damaged by the earthquake and almost all island residents were forced to evacuate. Aftershocks continued intermittently throughout the following weeks as construction crews worked to rebuild damaged buildings throughout the city. Traditional Japanese houses, particularly in the areas of Daimyo and Imaizumi, were the most heavily damaged and many were marked for demolition, along with several apartment buildings. Insurance payments for damages were estimated at approximately 15.8 billion yen.

Fukuoka's major Kego fault, runs northwest to southeast, roughly parallel to Nishitetsu's Omuta train line, and was previously thought to be 22 km long. It is estimated to produce earthquakes as strong as magnitude 7 at the focus approximately once every 15,000 years. If the focus were located at a depth of 10 km, this would translate to an earthquake of a lower-6 magnitude (similar to the March 20, 2005 earthquake) in downtown Fukuoka if it were the epicenter. The probability of an earthquake along the known length of the Kego fault occurring within 30 years was estimated at 0.4% prior to the March 20, 2005 earthquake, but this probability has been revised upwards since. Including the new extension out into the Sea of Genkai, the Kego fault is now thought to be 40 km long.

Following reports that the city has only prepared for earthquakes up to a magnitude of 6.5, several strong aftershock renewed fears that the quakes might cause the portion of the Kego faultline that lies under the city to become active again, leading to an earthquake as big as, or bigger than, the March 20 quake.


Fukuoka has 7 wards (ku): Ward Population Land area Pop. density
as of 2004 km² per km²
Higashi-ku 275 652 66.68 4 134
Hakata-ku 190 178 31.47 6 043
Chūō-ku 163 975 15.16 10 816
Minami-ku 247 913 30.98 8 002
Jonan-ku 127 952 16.02 7 987
Sawara-ku 207 851 95.88 2 168
Nishi-ku 177 625 83.81 2 119


As of May 2007, the city had an estimated population of 1,422,836 and a density of 4,184.07 persons per km². The total area is 340.60 km². With an average age of 38.6 years, Fukuoka is Japan's second youngest major city and with a growth rate of 4.4%, is also Japan's second-fastest growing city (based on 2000 census data).


Fukuoka was selected as one of Newsweek's 10 "Most Dynamic Cities" in its July 2006 issue. It was chosen for its central Asian location, increasing tourism and trade, and a large increase in volume at its sea and airport. Fukuoka has a diverse culture and a wide range of cultural attractions.


Sky Dream Fukuoka, located in Fukuoka City's western ward, is one of the world's largest ferris wheels at a height of 120 meters. Fukuoka Castle located adjacent to Ohori Park features the remaining stone walls and ramparts left after a devastating fire during the upheaval of the Meiji Restoration. It has now been preserved along with some reconstructed prefabricate concrete towers constructed during the 1950s and 1960s, when there was a trend across Japan to rebuild damaged castles as tourist attractions. Ohori Park is also the location of one of Fukuoka City's major art galleries. There is a newly opened Kyushu National Museum in nearby Dazaifu.

The Marine Park Uminonakamichi is located on a narrow cape on the northern side of the Bay of Hakata. The park has an amusement park, petting zoo, gardens, beaches, a hotel, and a large marine aquarium.

For tourists from other parts of Japan, local foods such as mentaiko, Hakata ramen and motsunabe are associated with Fukuoka. Yatai (street stalls) serving ramen can be found in Tenjin and Nakasu most evenings.


Fukuoka Asian Culture Prize was established to honor the outstanding work of individuals or groups/organizations to preserve and create unique and diverse cultures of Asia.


Fukuoka is home to many festivals that are held throughout the year. Of these, the most famous are Hakata Dontaku and Hakata Gion Yamakasa.

Yamakasa (山笠), held for two weeks each July, is Fukuoka's oldest festival with a history of over 700 years. Teams of men (no women, except small girls, are allowed), representing different districts in the city, race against the clock around a set course carrying on their shoulders floats weighing several thousand pounds. Participants all wear shimekomi (called fundoshi in other parts of Japan), which are traditional loincloths. Each day of the two-week festival period is marked by special events and practice runs, culminating in the official race that takes place the last morning before dawn. Tens of thousands line the streets to cheer on the teams. During the festival period, men can be seen walking around many parts Fukuoka in long happi coats bearing the distinctive mark of their team affiliation and traditional geta sandals. The costumes are worn with pride and are considered appropriate wear for even formal occasions, such as weddings and cocktail parties, during the festival period.

Hakata Dontaku (博多どんたく) is held in Fukuoka City on May 3 and 4. Boasting over 800 years of history, Dontaku is attended by more than 2 million people, making it the Japanese festival with the highest attendance during Japan's Golden Week holidays. During the festival, stages are erected throughout downtown for traditional performances and a parade of floats is held. The full name is Hakata Dontaku Minato Matsuri.

The festival was stopped for seven years during the Meiji era, and since it was restarted in the 12th year of the Meiji era it has been known as Hakata Dontaku.


Notable musical names in J-pop include Ayumi Hamasaki (allegedly Japan's richest woman), hugely popular singer/songwriter duo Chage & Aska, Misia and Yui. During the 1970s, local musicians prided themselves on their origins and dubbed their sound, Mentai Rock.


Fukuoka is served by Fukuoka Airport, the Sanyō Shinkansen high speed rail line and other JR Kyushu trains at Hakata Station and by ferry. JR Kyushu and a Korean company operate hydrofoil ferries (named Beetle and Kobee) between Hakata and Busan, South Korea. The subway opened a new line, the Nanakuma line, on February 2, 2005.


Fukuoka is the home of the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks, one of Japan's top professional baseball teams. Threatened with bankruptcy and forced by its creditors to restructure, in 2004 former owner Daiei sold the Hawks to Masayoshi Son of Softbank Capital.

Fukuoka is home to a professional soccer team, Avispa Fukuoka.

Annual sporting events include:

Fukuoka had hosted

Sports teams and facilities

Club Sports League Venue Established
Fukuoka Softbank Hawks Baseball Pacific League Fukuoka Yahoo! Japan Dome 1989(year of relocation from Ōsaka as Daiei Hawks, changed to current name from 2005)
Avispa Fukuoka Football J. League Division 2 Level-5 Stadium 1995(year of relocation from Fujieda, Shizuoka as Fukuoka Blux, changed to current name from 1996)
Rizing Fukuoka Basketball bj league Accion Fukuoka 2007
Fukuoka Red Warblers Baseball Shikoku-Kyūshū Island League To be announced 2008

Top League Rugby teams: Coca Cola West Red Sparks, Kyuden Voltex


Fukuoka City operates all public elementary and junior high schools, while the prefecture operates the high schools.National Universities

Sister cities

Fukuoka has several sister cities:

Fukuoka City Sister Cities Committee

Fukuoka City established the Asian Pacific City Summit in 1994. It consists of 26 Asian-Pacific Cities.

Notable people from Fukuoka

Italic indicates deceased.

Fukuoka in fiction

  • The city of Fukuoka features in two Godzilla films, the 1991 film Godzilla vs King Ghidorah and the 1994 film Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla.
  • In the 1995 film, Gamera: Guardian Of The Universe, Gamera's first appearance and encounter with the Gyaos after nearly 30 years takes place in Fukuoka with Gamera making landfall in Hakata Bay.
  • Fukuoka is the capital of Japan in the anime Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex after Tokyo is destroyed in a nuclear attack.
  • Excel Saga, the manga and anime, is set in a slightly fictionalized version of Fukuoka (home of the author, Rikudo Koshi) called "F City in F Prefecture" and it contains many Fukuoka in-jokes. For example, the main antagonist, Dr. Kabapu, is named for (and physically resembles) the mascot of the 1989 Asia-Pacific Expo, held in Fukuoka to commemorate the centennial of its city administration.


External links

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