Fukuoka is set to get a new landmark this spring with the opening of Fukuoka Daimyo Garden City. Prior to its full opening in April, the central plaza opened to the public on January 20. In addition to playground equipment modeled after a koma-inu (the dog-like guardians of Shinto shrines), the plaza also has a stage that can be used for events. A ceremony was held to celebrate the opening, and it is fast becoming a popular place for local children to play.
The facility is on the site of the former Daimyo Elementary School, which was one of the oldest elementary schools in Fukuoka City. The school opened in 1873, and its rolls grew as the city of Fukuoka developed. The school building, which still remains in one corner, is a reinforced concrete structure that was built in 1929. It currently houses a start-up support center and retains many vestiges of its past, including a large central staircase that gives the building a retro atmosphere.
As the number of children in the area continued to increase, the school was divided and a new school, Sunoko Elementary School, was opened in 1912. The school was further divided again with the opening of Akasaka Elementary School in 1953 and Maizuru Elementary School in 1960. The development of the region was so remarkable that new elementary schools had to be built one after another due to the concentration of people living in the city center. For some local residents, three or four generations of their families all attended Daimyo Elementary School.
With the passage of time, the population of Fukuoka’s urban center has declined. Due to falling enrollment, Daimyo Elementary School closed its doors in 2014. In line with this, the former splinter schools of Sunoko Elementary School and Maizuru Elementary School were merged along with Maizuru Junior High School, and the City built a new building for the combined Maizuru Elementary and Junior High School. Shopping facilities and a hotel will also open on the site of the former Daimyo Elementary School in the near future. The new Daimyo Garden City is expected to facilitate community interaction, and it will likely return to the bustling place it once was.