Hakata is full of hidden (and not so hidden) gems. Many remain undiscovered by the casual observer, but play a crucial role in telling the tale of the city’s culture & history.
1) Sumiyoshi Jinja Shrine – The Shrine to The God of Sumo
Of the three elements of Japan’s national sport (heart, spirit and body), Sumiyoshi Jinja Shrine enshrines the “spirit” element. Special sumo ceremonies take place here each fall.
2) Yoshitake Shoten – The Old School Cat Cafe
Yoshitake Shoten is a popular kakuuchi (liquor shop) where sake-lovers can enjoy sips of sake in the daytime with the friendly four-legged felines that hang out near the shop.
3) Hakata Sennen no Mon – A Gate to Temple Town
Enter through Sennen no Mon to see a microcosm of local history and culture. Inspired by the Edo period gate Tsuji no Douguchi Mon, Sennen no Mon was built in the architectural style of medieval Hakata.
4) Taihaku-dori – Fukuoka’s Street-side Museum
Taihaku-dori is the huge avenue connecting Hakata Sta. to the port. It is lined with replicas and photographs of artifacts from the Yayoi period to the present. Open 24/7, admission free!
5) Ryuguji Temple – The Place Where a Mermaid Rests
According to legend, in 1222 a mermaid drifted into Hakata Bay and was buried at Ryuguji Temple. Her bones have been preserved and can be viewed by appointment.
6) Hakata-ori – The Five Special Colors of Hakata-ori
Hakata-ori is one of the main textiles used to make obi (traditional belts). It comes in five traditional colors known as “Hakata-ori Goshoku Kenjo” – as seen on Nishitetsu Buses!
7) Tochoji Temple – Japan’s Lucky (and large!) Wooden Buddha
At 10.8m high and weighing 30t, Fukuoka’s Great Buddha is Japan’s largest wooden Buddha. The sculptor credits receiving a good luck omikuji (paper fortune) for its successful creation.
More to come… stay tuned.
Originally published in Fukuoka Now Magazine (fn214, Oct. 2016)