The main article in the March 15 issue of fashion and design trend magazine Brutus, published by Magazine House, is titled “Anti-Tokyo? Cool Local!”, and ranks the 50 most appealing regional cities in Japan. Edging out such well-known cities as Kyoto, Sapporo, Naha, and Kanazawa for the top spot on the list was the city we call home—Fukuoka City!
On the panel of judges was Tokyo native Uichi Yamamoto, famous as the man who launched the café boom. He designed Comment Allez Vous, a café facing the Naka River, and Haruqui, a Japanese-style café in Tenjin. He says he has come to love the city during his frequent visits here, which are as often for personal enjoyment as they are for work. Yamamoto finds the city attractive because “It has a depth and a tolerance capable of accepting the unexpected.” He points out that Fukuoka City has a distinctiveness and maturity that stems from its blend of Japanese culture with other Asian elements, a result of its interaction with the continent dating back to antiquity. That’s why the city responds so well to innovative ideas, he says.
Yamamoto told us about some of the shops he regularly drops by during his trips to the city. It turns out that many are part of the daily life of the local residents. One example he cites is Miyahara Saketen, a liquor store in Imaizumi. This is a famous shop in an out-of-the-way location that opened before the war, which is known for selling individual shots of sake in one portion of the premises. They also provide tasty appetizers, and everyone enjoys meeting the woman who runs the shop, who greets all of her customers with a friendly smile.
Another of his favorite haunts is Torikawa Suikyo, a Yakuin yakitori shop famous for its chicken skin dish. It’s always packed with diners. Yamamoto also mentions the West Udon, a well-known chain of diners open round the clock. Despite the low prices, their kakiage, or fried dishes, and maruten, or surimi tempura, can’t be beaten. We can’t wait to see what will emerge next on the streets of Fukuoka, which has developed a unique culture of its own capable of embracing new ideas that are every bit as unique!
Originally published in Fukuoka Now magazine (fn136, Apr. 2010)