Nakasu is Kyushu’s number one entertainment district. The area developed around the Nakashima bridge, which was built by Fukuoka’s first feudal lord, Nagamasa Kuroda, in 1600 to connect the Fukuoka and Hakata areas. In the latter Edo period, this strategic location was put to good use as the area developed into an entertainment district popular with both the samurai of Fukuoka and the merchants of Hakata. The merchants and samurai may have long since disappeared, but the number of nightspots in Nakasu has only grown. It has also long-served as a launch pad for new cultural movements, from the theatre popular in the Meiji period to the literature boom of the late 1890s and the appearance of cinemas in the 1910s. This month we take a closer look at the many delights of Nakasu.
Around 3,500 establishments of varying types are crammed into this long, narrow delta between the Naka and Hakata rivers. More than 30,000 people are said to work at the many bars, cabaret clubs, massage parlors and brothels, and still more come to enjoy themselves. Smooth-talking, gaudily dressed men and women act as self-appointed guides in this tantalizing neon jungle as they compete to entice potential customers into their particular establishment.
Nakasu has traditionally only really come alive at night, but recent developments such as the Gate’s and Riverain shopping and entertainment complexes and The Fukuoka Asian Art Museum are transforming it into an area that can be enjoyed during the daytime too. Many events are also put on throughout the year, such as the popular Nakasu Jazz music festival held every August. Whichever side of Nakasu you seek, there’s only one way to truly appreciate its intoxicating appeal, and that’s to go there yourself.
A spacious and popular Philippine restaurant with a Filipino chef who offers affordable and tasty South East Asian dishes. Popular with foreigners working in the area and open until 6am!
Cafe & Bar Dining Eternity
A “historic” former strip tease theater was converted into a bar with a food menu boasting 30 ~ 40 varieties including pizza and pasta and NO cover charge. Check web for live music schedule.
Yakatabune are dinner boats that offer views of Nakasu’s neon lights while passengers enjoy diner and drinks. 2-hours cruises are the norm or by charter. Reservations required.
Cotton Fields a favorite of foreigners with 300 varities of beer and no cover charge.
Fukuya honten samples the many varieties of Fukuoka’s most famous gourmet condiment mentaiko (spicy cod roe) Fukuya main shop.
Kappo Kaji specializes in fresh fugu (blowfish) but they have other fresh seafood too.
Nakasu 1923 serves highballs made of whiskey chilled below 2°C and strong soda.
Fuku Haku Minato Deai-bune
The Naka River Boat Tour takes passengers on a 20 minute ride up and down the Naka River for ¥500 (adults) and ¥250 (children).
Nakasu was once famous for its movie theaters. Nakasu Taiyo is an old cinema running since 1946.
Guide maps like this are directories to bars and the “adult orientated” establishments. They can be found on most corners in the area.
Cheap Dress Shops
Sexy tight fitting dresses are on display and for sale at many shops in the area. Target customers are the “kyaba-jyo” (hostesses). Most are priced under ¥10,000
After the sun sets, Fukuoka’s iconic yatai, mobile food stalls are setup along the riverside of Naka-gawa. A favorite for tourists to try, but be sure to confirm prices before sitting down.
While Nakasu is best known for its bars, the back streets and alleys are home to some more quiet and respectable small restaurants.
View Fukuoka Now Around Town “Nakasu” in a larger map
Originally published in Fukuoka Now magazine (fn156, Dec. 2011)