Situated amid a cluster of tall office buildings about five minutes’ walk from Hakata Station, Dekimachi Park is one of the few open spaces left near the station. Not many people realize that this park, which sits just off the main drag, actually marks the birthplace of rail travel in Kyushu because this is where the original Hakata Station, or at least part of it, was located. Here you will find a monument carved with the words “Birthplace of the Kyushu Railway” and two steam locomotive wheels, one on either side.
Over the years, Hakata Station has relocated several times. In 1889, Kyushu Railway Company built the first Hakata Station near Dekimachi Park to coincide with the opening of the first railroad in Kyushu. Although this company no longer exists, the original rail line now forms a portion of today’s JR Kagoshima Line. After this, Hakata Station was relocated to the Gion neighborhood before assuming its current location in 1963.
Dekimachi Park was first built in 1965, and it reopened in December 2017 after undergoing renovations with input from the local community. The new park, with its spacious multipurpose ground, is now brighter and more open. Given the large number of temples and shrines nearby, parking spaces for six sightseeing buses were also added. A rest area-style facility will be added at a later date.
The park renovations marked the first phase of the Hakata Old City Project, which is Hakata’s answer to the Tenjin Big Bang downtown redevelopment project. Hakata has a long and storied history as the largest trading port in medieval Japan, so the city is striving to tap into Hakata’s culture and traditions to heighten the appeal of the area for both residents and foreign visitors.
Originally published in Fukuoka Now Magazine (fn230, Feb. 2018)