Introduction by Nick Szasz / Publisher
I consider myself lucky. Thirty-two years ago, I interviewed for an IT job which I assumed would be in Tokyo. But when they called me back for a second interview and invited me to see their office in Fukuoka, I was confused. Fukuoka? Where on earth is that, I wondered. With some trepidation, I moved to this city in a far corner of southwestern Japan just for the job. Three decades later, however, I remain by choice–convinced that Fukuoka is one of the very best places in the world to not just pursue a career, but to thrive. And news of Fukuoka with its enviable work-life balance is starting to get out!
From ancient times, Fukuoka was one of Japan’s earliest gateway to the outside world. Fast forward to the 21st Century and Fukuoka finds itself on the cusp of an exciting new era. While the core of the city’s unique character remains very much the same as when I first arrived in 1990, the city has cast off limitations of the past and is about to grow a new skin.
Over these thirty-odd years ago, I watched the Dome and neighboring Momochihama area rise up from reclaimed land. Since then, I have witnessed Fukuoka’s remarkable growth–the elevation of the Nishitetsu train tracks and development of Tenjin, the extension of the urban expressway, the opening of the International Terminal at the airport, the addition of a third new subway line. But it wasn’t until 2010, when Mayor Shoichiro Takashima took office at the age of thirty-six, that the city truly graduated from being a cozy regional hub city to joining the ranks of Japan’s leading cities.
Under Mayor Takashima leadership the city has focused on attracting and fostering startups – appealing to youth, tech, and global businesses. While the unicorns have yet to appear, the city has become fertile ground for the young and the creative. His administration has also been ahead of the curve with DX to reduce bureaucracy, implementing progressive social programs, offering affordable healthcare, promoting inclusivity, launching greenery projects, and strategizing for citizens’ wellness.
It’s not surprising then that London-based world affairs and lifestyle Monocle Magazine has included Fukuoka in its annual rankings since 2008, and highlighted the city in a recent edition: “Fukuoka Business and Life Balance.”
In this series of posts, we will update you on key city policies and projects underway and on the horizon. We’ll speak with key players shaping the city’s next stage, including the Mayor himself, and we’ll also hear the thoughts and experiences directly from ex-pats. You, too, will come to understand that Fukuoka is a city that is going places, and those like me who have been fortunate to call the city home know it is the right place to be at just the right time.
• Fukuoka City – Right Time, Right Place (this page)
• Fukuoka: City of Growth and Dynamic Vision
• Choosing to live in Fukuoka means choosing well-being
• Living for what you love
• What’s Fukuoka City Really Like?
Fukuoka City x Fukuoka Now