Fukuoka City or Hakata City?

Oct 24, 2011 19:03 No Comments


In April 1889, the government issued a regulation for municipalization and parochialism following great controversy throughout the previous year whether they named the area Fukuoka city or Hakata city. The population in the Hakata area as of April 1st 1889 reached 25,677. In the Fukuoka area, the population was 20,410. There were 1,530 people on the outskirts of both Hakata and Fukuoka. Originally the area was called Hakata, however a Japanese warload, Nagamasa Kuroda named this area FUKUOKA in tribute to his ancestors’ land called Bizen Fukuoka ( Bizen is now called Okayama.) in 1600. Since then, the eastern area of the city from the River Naka in the Nakasu region has been called Hakata, and the western area Fukuoka.

A consensus of opinion could not be reached on what the new name for the city should be, Fukuoka – a proud samurai town, or Hakata – the port and merchant district. In February 1890, during a meeting, a local official suggested to change the name of the city. There were 17 legislators on the Hakata side, and 13 on the Fukuoka side. A last minute meeting was held to finally decide on a name. Out of all the legislators, four from the Hakata side didn’t turn up. (Some believe that they were locked in toilets in order to prevent them from going!) Each legislator had to vote for their preference. The result was that the votes were split 13-13. Due to the stalemate, the chairman of the meeting made the final decision. Having been a samurai in an ex-Fukuoka domain, he chose Fukuoka. With that and after intense discussion, FUKUOKA was chosen as the name of the city.

In return, the name HAKATA was chosen for the name of the new railway station that had just opened. This is how the confusion began between the names of Fukuoka city and Hakata station. This can be very confusing for travelers to the city. For example, when the shinkansen reaches Fukuoka at Hakata station, the announcement states, ‘We are now in Hakata.’ Some hotels in Fukuoka are named ‘…Hakata.’ Reversely, some hotels in Hakata are called after Fukuoka.

Here is another example of these two confusing names. I noticed it on TV about ten years ago when a well known music band was introduced as coming from Hakata city. The TV programme was produced in Tokyo. These two names confuse even the people who are engaged in the media. However don’t you think these names make Fukuoka city more unique and attractive?

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