Story of ‘O’
Between Tenjin 3 chome and Maizuru 1 chome a 400 meter stretch of concrete known as Oyafuko-dori runs from south to north. How did this area, known for its eclectic mix of temples, dance clubs, live houses, and international restaurants and bars, earn the name Oyafuko-dori or “Street of Disrespectful Children”? Read on for a primer on the Story of “O”.
From Samurai to Students and…
400 years ago, in the Nagamasa Kuroda era, the street which ran down into the harbor was known as Tenjin Yorozumachi street. It was a center of tea and lumber businesses, as well as a market area for the local samurai community. The area has continued to evolve with each successive era, earning it a reputation of a town with many faces. So how did this only moderately colorful area become the bustling nightspot it is today?
The late ’70s marked a major turning point. A number of prep schools sprang up, and accompanying them an ever increasing number of shops targeting these students and the other 20-somethings that began to hang out in the area. The area’s low rental fees also attracted aspiring (not to mention starving) young artists looking for a space and an audience to express their individuality through art, music, theater and fashion. This is when their hard-working parents nick-named the street Oyafuko-dori or “Street of Disrespectful Children”.
Fast-forward to the late ’80s. Just as the image of Oyafuko as Bohemian center of music and art was gelling, another huge change took place: the arrival of disco and the infamous ‘Maria Club’ in 1987. At its peak, Maria Club was one of the largest nightclubs in the country drawing over 2,000 satin-clothed people a night! These were Gold Rush days. Other clubs compete with Maria Club to open bigger and even more decadent pleasure domes. Around the same time, Oyafuko’s first foreign owned bars began to open. With a steady increase in foreign patrons the Oyafuko area became synonymous with anything and everything international in Fukuoka. The original, “The International Bar” is still running, “Off Broadway” too, but others like “The Edge”, “The Treehouse”, and “Cross up” have long gone. Still others evolved like the “Bollox” parties which have become “The Happy Cock”.
Unfortunately in the late ’80s the “bubble economy” burst, but fortunately disco died too. The sudden collapse of the area’s cash cow left the Oyafuko area reeling, and for a while its future was uncertain. The young people didn’t disappear from the area. The achievements of each previous, hopeful generation were left intact, and none more prominent than music. No matter how chaotic the times may have been, people seeking great local, especially live music always made their way to Oyafuko. Still today, Oyafuko is home to many live houses, clubs, and record shops of every genre, drawing music fans from a wide spectrum.
Current day Oyafuko has its share of challenges. Once again, low rents have drawn new businesses into the area, except this time it’s not artists, but red-light businesses from Nakasu. On the bright side various initiatives such as “Asia Town” are being touted to foreign sightseers, and many plots of land left vacant after ‘the disco burst’ are being bought up and developed for high-rise residential use. The area will soon be home to hundreds if not thousands of new residents. Everyone in Oyafuko is interested to see how this colorful town will develop in the future.
2F, 1-3-4 Maizuru, Chuo-ku, Fukuoka
Open: 21:00 ~ 3:00
A cozy African motif decorated bar on a sidestreet off Oyafuko yet enough space to dance to the Reggae sounds. Mellow enough to enjoy conversations with friends or with Hector the amicable owner and rythmn master from Ghana.
2F, 6-2-1 Maizuru, Chuo-ku, Fukuoka
Open: 19:30 ~ Until late
Closed: Sun, Mon & Tue
If you’re into Latin music and dance: Salsa, Merengue, Cumbia, Cha cha cha and Bachata, look no further. Sonia offers regular Latin dance classes that are ideal for all levels. On the weekends it’s either a DJ party or a special event – and always a bit spicy! Latin music flyers and free papers available.
1F, 1-8-1 Maizuru, Chuo-ku, Fukuoka
Open: 11:00 ~ 2:00 / ~ 0:00 (Sun.)
Located dead-center along Oyafukodori, Nazuki serves delicious ishiyaki bibimba; veggies and other toppings on a bed of rice in sizzling hot stone bowls. Very popular with local Koreans and other Asians so you know it must be authentic! Quick, filling and tasty meals with zing!
<< Nanak >>
2F, 1-1-4 Maizuru, Chuo-ku, Fukuoka
Open: 11:00 ~ 15:30, 18:00 ~ 22:30 O.S. / 11:00 ~ 22:30 O.S. (Sun.)
Located on the corner of Oyafuko and Showa-dori this landmark is undisputably the longest- running Indian food restaurant in Kyushu. Indian chefs prepare all your favorites including curries, nan, tandoori chicken and vegetarian meals. Lunches from ｴ680 and now “heat & eat” takeout curry packs.
2F, 3-6-18 Tenjin, Chuo-ku, Fukuoka
Tel: Not Available
Open: 0:00 ~ until late
LAPH, a regular Japanese izakaya (pub) on Oyafukodori, miraculously metamorphosis into a hot’n’sweaty after-hours dance club on Fridays and Saturdays. The joint packs up with singles as the other clubs close up. Dancing ’till dawn.
4F, 3-6-12 Tenjin, Chuo-ku, Fukuoka
Open: 19:00 ~ 2:00 / ~ 4:00 (Fri. & Sat.)
Gimmicks, games, drink deals, zany videos, and outgoing staff; for some it’s sensory overload, for others it’s just what the doctor ordered – a party! Look for special drink deals linked to their sister club in Daimyo.
<< The Dark Room >>
8F, 3-4-15 Tenjin, Chuo-ku, Fukuoka
Open: 20:30 ~ until late
Closed: January 1st
Formerly very rock-centric, their DJs now play a broader range of music, including dance and Hip Hop tracks. Free billiards Mon to Fri, a rooftop patio (Apr. to Oct.), and a good value short-order food menu are reasons beyond the tunes and dance ﾟoor to go. Particularly lively past midnight.
B1F, 3-6-8 Tenjin, Chuo-ku, Fukuoka
Open: 20:30 ~ 3:00 / ~5:00 (Fri. & Sat.)
With huge speakers and electric guitars mounted on walls it’s obvious Feri has built this bar for rock fans. Both counter or table seating and the foosball table is free. Sports (especially football) on cable TV and the venue is available for private parties & live events.
2F, 3-2-13, Tenjin, Chuo-ku, Fukuoka
Open: 19:30 ~ 2:00 (Sun. ~ Thu.) / ~ 4:00 (Fri. ~ Sat.)
Fukuoka’s “home town bar” might be just the spot if you’re pining for a big burger and cold beer. Now in its 11th year with the charismatic “Luis in the House” Off Broadway is an Oyafuko institution. Casual and laid-back on weekdays, it’s known to be very lively on weekends.
Urashima Bldg 4F, 3-1-13 Tenjin, Chuo-ku, Fukuoka
Open: 18:30 ~ 4:00 5Sun.
Fukuoka’s original “gaijin bar” – now in its 18th year! Their secret of success seems to be “little change and keep it simple”. A friendly place for recently arrived gaijin to get orientated. Besides drinks you can enjoy a bowl of Nepalese curry and even sing karaoke – now that’s international!
On Oyafuko – You can find anything!
Eat, drink, dance (and occasionally visit a temple) ﾐ for this is Oyafuko!
XXXXX Cluster of Clubs XXXXX
Dance, dance, dance the night away…
Spacious dance floor with a huge and hard-pumping sound system. Nothing fancy but a great place to dance. Techno, Trance, and more.
Dance club with a glass ceiling and view of the sky! Hip-hop to reggae, they play all genres. In fact Saturdays are “All Genre Night”.
Butterfly: Hip-Hop, House, Reggae, Trance, club events and even live events! Wed. no events, just a mellow bar.
Huge multi-floor club with dancing on the 3rd, a bar on the 4th, and live performances on the 5th.
Popular with the young Hip Hop crowd, regular Hip Hop event on Sundays, and big Reggae nights on 4th Sunday.
Due Due Plus
Despite its miniscule dance floor it’s been popular with foreigners from way back.
Now playing a wider variety (House, Electoronica, Rare groove, Jazz, and Rock). Tue. thru Fri. is no-charge DJ bar.
Famous for its awesome sound system. Top DJ’s from the rest of Japan and overseas play here.
Popular with the young, i.e. barely legal drinking age Japanese clubbers and foreigners who crowd the dance floor for an urban mix of hip-hop and reggae. Tel: 092-716-2030
1st and 3rd Sat. Trance, 2nd and 4th Sat. Hip-Hop, Reggae, weekdays 1,000yen/1 drink weekends 2,000 yen/2 drinks.
XXXXX More Music Please XXXXX
Small pub popular with musicians, occasionally live music. Friendly & no cover charge
One of Oyafuko’s longest-running jazz bars with music chosen from a collection of over 2,000 records. A great place to unwind and talk jazz.
Customers browse thousands of LPs and can even spin them at this unique music-lover’s bar run by a record shop owner.
Its high ceiling and haphazardly placed vintage furniture create a surprisingly funky interior. Enjoy Asian foods, a screening accompanied by music, and other surprise events.
Tucked up on the 2nd floor of a building near the entrance of Oyafuko this cafe & gallery has remained virtually unchanged since its opening in 1976. With modern art exhibits on always – it’s a classic!
XXXXX Loving it Live XXXXX
Early Believers (EB)
Cafe, live house and recording studio rolled up into one. A few outdoor tables too. Tel: 092-Tel: 092-738-7337
Dark moody jazz bar and cafe boasting 10,000 LP’s and CDs
Popular bar and live house. Their 100yen draft beers on Thu. draws foreigners in droves. Tel: 092-732-4662
XXXXX Other World Foods XXXXX
Full Latin restaurant menu, DJs and dance floor for your Latin dining and dancing pleasure. Tel: 092-739-1313
Open for lunch but basically a bar with occasional live music. Tacos and Tacos Rice are popular orders.
Jan Jan: Nepalese/Indian food with Caribbean interior, probably the best nan in town – strictly no smoking! 2762-8080 Map 22 / Pik’s: American ’50s-style diner: cheap, cheerful, breakfast served anytime – great place to refuel.
An Asian cafe, but they serve the best Fish’n’Chips in the city – really!
Wei Hai: Open kitchen worked by chefs from China; their juicy steamed gyoza is a must. Tel: 092-771-1961
XXXXX Five Fine Temples XXXXX
The largest Zen temple in Oyafuko, it’s dedicated to childbirth, but is also steeped in legends of a mysterious female ghost.
Lying inconspicuously between Oyafuko and Maizuru, it’s ideal for spending hours on personal reflection.
Named after a Chinese army general, Steven Segal attended its unveiling ceremony in 2002. It’s the centerpiece of Oyafuko’s Asia Town and will hopefully bring prosperity to all.
Along the street that passes through Oyafuko and Watanabe Street, you can see many tombstones and a statue of Shinran – a serene retreat from a busy neighborhood.
Hondo, Kannondo and Kaizando were originally built in 1604, so this temple has watched over the neighborhood for the past 400 years!
XXXXX Oyafuko Originals XXXXX
Super-popular transvestite show theatre. Elaborate costumes and sets. Hilarious, especially if you understand Japanese.
Full-on S&M show pub. Sit back and watch the show, other customers join in the fun. Foreigners welcome.
An Oyafukodori original. A special roadside sink for regurgitating in after too many drinks – keeps the street clean!