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'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).
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.
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.
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).
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.
Annual sporting events include:
Fukuoka had hosted
|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|
Fukuoka City established the Asian Pacific City Summit in 1994. It consists of 26 Asian-Pacific Cities.
Italic indicates deceased.