Japan, that country full of surprises, stylish day to day living, and exquisite scenes that unfold in front of one’s eyes as though arranged by the Gods, is rich in dynamic cities. None is more so than Fukuoka, a city rich in traditions, yet one that has embraced modernity with enthusiasm, a city of shopping-malls, modern subways and high rise condominiums. Like the best of Japan’s cities, it is traditional in its outlook, but manages to fuse old and new. Unfortunately, it is also the country where I dropped my camera and with it, hundreds of pictures I hadn’t saved to any other medium, but lucky for me the Japanese Tourist Board were able to help me out with these lovely images.
Located on the island of Kyushu, Fukuoka’s main attractions are the many Buddhist statues, Shinto shrines and age old ruins. Visit in spring-time for the glorious, pink cherry blossom and the Fukuoka Daibutsu, the imposing 10.5 metres high sitting Buddha statue. You may photograph the blossom but it is forbidden to take pictures of the Daibutsu.. Many people will be observ ing you and if the rules are broken you could end up in difficulties!
The city has modern shopping malls in plenty too, catering to a hip, young, fashion conscious clientele who, even in freezing weather, will be found wearing mini-skirts and sleeveless shirts. Smaller family shops sell local handicrafts, and share the spotlight with high rise condominiums. A network of subways conveys people effortlessly around the city while bullet trains cover the rest of the island.
The Kushida shrine, recognisable from the large red lanterns that decorate its two-storey gate is just a ten minute walk away from the Daibutsu Buddha. This is a Mecca for the worshippers praying there, as they seek success in business, or getting a wife, or/and a long life. If you want to know what the future has in store for you, you can have your future foretold by one of the fortune-tellers in the courtyard that leads to the praying chamber.
One of the best places for shopping and eating is Canal City, a huge complex of hotels, movie theatres, restaurants and shops. Fukuoka’s seafood is famous throughout Japan with most of it caught daily in the Sea of Genkai and served fresh in the restaurants here and in Nakasu, the nightlife district. Or, join the locals around the open-air yatai food stalls in the central districts of Tenjim, for grilled chicken skewers, hot pot and noodle soup. The food is really fantastic.