Pubbing and Clubbing in Fukuoka
The Clubber’s Guide
The evenings are still hot and there’s party vibes buzzing all over the place, so whether you are a seasoned clubber or a newbie, longtime resident or fresh-off-the-boat, use our clubbing guide to plan your night, find a cool new hangout and party from dusk till dawn.
Written by: Tokunbo Oyebode
Fukuoka has many great areas for eating, drinking and clubbing. This month, we introduce one well-known party spot, and one slightly less frequented (by foreigners at least) that we know you’ll enjoy.
The first is Oyafuko-dori (loosely translated as “street of misbehaving kids”); a legendary very-late-night area. Many a new person in town will find themselves in Oyafuko, with the most friendly gaijin bars, best drinks deals, and strong foreign presence. The second is Imaizumi, which has an altogether different rhythm, with a proliferation of small, cool bars, and less foreigners! If you’re in Fukuoka for any length of time, both areas are worth a visit. Given their close proximity, the genki amongst you might choose to make it a large one and take on both in one night!
Imaizumi is south of Tenjin Station. During the day it’s a quiet maze of winding streets, but looks are deceiving; as night falls, it transforms into a chilled-out night spot, resplendent with DJ bars and cafes. A wander around the area will always lead to somewhere new and enticing. Whether it’s via a glimpse of the mouth-watering food and drinks boards lining the pavement, or the sight of people chilling out in rooftop cafe´s such as Loft and Corduroy, or the tunes and lights spilling from an open door, somewhere’s sure to tickle your fancy. The early evening vibe is a chilled-out one. It’s a place people to go relax after work, or to meet friends before a night out. Many of the most popular spots, such as epi:cafe´, mix dining with music from live DJs, perfect to get you in the mood for clubbing. This being Japan, each bar pays attention to detail; the interiors are often lush, and even some of the smallest bars pack a crystal clear sound-system and wicked visuals.
The other option for starting your night is Oyafuko-dori. The street is absolutely stuffed full of places to drink and dance, some buildings housing up to three clubs, and many more bars, across their floors. It’s generally crowded with a good mix of Japanese and foreigners. The vibe here is more one of partying and yes, a touch of hedonism. With all-you-can-drink deals all over the place, the phrase “I’m just popping out for a quiet one” is rarely uttered on Oyafuko-dori (except as famous last words.)
Wherever you start your night, you can’t go wrong if you end up on Oyafuko; it’s home to most of the big dance clubs in Fukuoka. Music of all genres is on offer, and to go with it dedicated followers of fashion from every scene. B-boys in oversized hoodies and hats hang around the hip-hop spots, androgynous techno robots search out the serious dance parties and day-glo donned trance ravers head off for psychedelic experiences. The atmosphere, while hectic, is generally safe and friendly, with everybody out for a good time.
Many clubs offer pass-outs, allowing you to duck out of the club for a breather and maybe grab some gum at the combini or a change of scene. With public transport stopping around midnight, and taxis being extortionately expensive, most people stay out until the first train home around 6am. If you’re not up for dancing straight through, there’s always the option of getting some late-night munchies at one of the many snack spots. For those from further afield, or who’ve had one too many, you can put your feet up at an internet cafe´ like Cybac or Popeye Cafe´ and wait for the trains to start running again.
Whether it’s laid-back Imaizumi or full-speed-ahead Oyafuko, you’ll find the music, company and food and drink you want here in Fukuoka.
A Typical Night Out…
If you’re new to Japan, you might be a little surprised by some of the “going out” customs. Turning up at a bar at 9pm on a Friday night with a thirst on only to be confronted by an empty room can be quite a shock. Never fear! Just set your watch to be two hours late and you’ll soon catch on…
Back home you might start a night out at a pub or bar, but in Japan, an izakaya is a good option. They are good places to relax and get some food in you before a big night out. Many offer a tabenomihodai option, which means all you eat and drink for a set fee.
With your stomach safely lined and the drinks deals exploited, it’s time to get serious and head to the club. Clubs get busy and main DJs often appear between 01:30 and 02:00, so duck in now and warm up your dancing shoes before it really kicks off!
When you’ve danced till you can’t dance no more, it’s food time again! While it’s still dark, explore the city’s street food and late night eatery options – maybe ramen at a yattai, or some takoyaki from a local stall. No trains running? Buy a booth at the net cafe and get your beauty sleep there.
Kids these days…
What do they listen to? What do they wear?
Thumping bass-lines and synthetic beats power this dance-driven genre, so essential items are comfortable sneakers for cutting the rug, and a towel for keeping yourself sweat-free.
The hippy-inspired, psychadelic electronic sound requires suitably out-there accessories… Bring your glowsticks and face paints and reach for the lasers!
Hip Hop / Rock / Indie
Clubbing in Japan is an eclectic affair, with hip hop, indie and rock nights all over the place. The cool kids turn up on skateboards, rockers never go anywhere without their trucker hats, and buy clothes three times too big and scowl a lot if you’re heading for a hip hop joint.
Viva la Vinyl!
Like what you hear at the clubs? Head for these music shops and stock up on the same ammo as the city’s best DJs.
Wall to wall dance labels from across the globe, neatly categorized. Great place to pick up fliers about the clubs.
Tel: Hip hop side: 092-720-4160 / Dance side: 092-731-6451 Area: Tenjin
Good range of 12″s and mix CDs from all dance genres. Specializing in imports, it’s a good place to look for hard-to-find tracks.
Area : Imaizumi
Plenty of the latest dance and hip-hop vinyl for DJs and discounted event tickets for the punters.
Phone : 092-725-5424 Area: Daimyo
A treasure trove of vinyl and CDs. An excellent back-catalogue of funk and soul makes it perfect of picking up those must-have classics.
Phone: 781-4369 Area: Tenjin
Solid independent chain, stocking the usual suspects on CD alongside a choice selection of vinyl. A good spot for indie releases.
Phone : 092-734-4198 Area: Daimyo
Rather than vinyl, Beams stocks a small but perfectly formed range of chill-out mix CDs. Plenty of listening posts so you can try before you buy.
Phone: 092-731-2537 Area: Daimyo
Eating a kebab after a night out on the town (in the UK at least) is mandatory. Even for vegetarians. But what about here in Japan? Fried tentacles is often the nosh of choice…
What is it?
An immensely popular dish overseas, the most widespread variety of which was developed by Turkish immigrants living in Germany. Look out for the yellow Persia Kebab van on Nishi-dori most nights!
What is in it?
The most common form (doner kebab) is a pita bread stuffed with salad, including tomatoes and onions, meat, and then some kind of sauce – chilli or yoghurt. You’ll either get lamb, chicken, or beef, but it’s best not to ask too many questions.
Just the trick?
Nothing tastes better than a kebab at 4a.m… For about five minutes, and then you, your digestive tract, and possibly your flatmate, might regret the decision for anything up to two days afterwards. Still, go for it!
What is it?
Fried octopus dumplings are the late night snack of choice in Japan. While Kansai is generally considered the home of takoyaki, Fukuoka has its fair share, including “8-ball” round the corner from Kieth Flack.
What is in it?
A whole load of white hot batter, stuffed with variations of sliced ginger, pickles and onions, with a tentacle waiting as a treat in the middle. All cooked mesmerizingly before your very eyes.
Just the trick?
For a foreigner, takoyaki might be an acquired taste, but soon enough you’ll be craving tentacle-filled goodness after a night out. It’s probably healthier than kebab, but careful not to burn yourself – they’re hot straight from the pan!
Music Bar & Club Directory
Here is a selection of great music bars and clubs as recommended to us by a number of sources. Fukuoka has many, many more great places to drink and dance than we have here, so get out there and discover them for yourself!
Heaven for guitar rock lovers! Live shows and recorded music.
Cozy bar with funky tunes. (Undergoing renovations during August.)
The Dark Room
Urban Rock bar. Free pool on weekdays, rooftop garden.
Dozens of DJs share shifts in this cool music bar. Renewal open: 8/20.
Another intimate, cool bar with a patio for the summer.
Classy atmosphere. Full service restaurant and bar. Cool DJ events.
NYC, hometown-style: Open ’til late for eats, drinks and good times.
Owned by El Salvadorean Sonia: Latin dance parties every weekend!
Popular hangout for the reggae & ska crowd. Friendly staff.
Spacious restaurant cafe with DJ and huge but not overpowering sound system.
Spacious, bright and laid back with occasional live DJs.
Hector-san welcomes you to a laid-back atmosphere and reggae music.
Map number :
Relaxed, hip bar boasting a great music catalogue and classic vinyls.
The Voodoo Lounge
Thursday’s 100 yen beer night. Loads of live music and events.
Area : Oyafuko
Tel : 092-732-4381
Multi-floored, relaxed pre-club DJ venue.
Techno, trance, occasional reggae on a massive laser-lit dance floor.
Tel : 092-732-0060
Cozy club playing the deeper side of dance and drum ‘n’ bass.
Three-story club and event space for the hip crowd.
Due Deux Plus
Regular underground hip-hop and soul nights with local DJs.
Good mix of foreigners and Japanese. Many special offers, and a dance floor.
Big dance floor, huge sound system and skylight on the roof.
Legendary international singles party space.
An eclectic range of nights, spread across two floors.
Ever-so-slightly up market cafe / bar / club. DJ and regular pop-music dance parties
Area : Daimyo
Tel : 092-711-1705
Sam & Dave
Clubbing like back home with an international crowd and a large dance floor.
Ultra-cool restaurant by evening, opens its doors as an occasional club after midnight.
Te : 092-738-7770
Huge sound system pumping out reggae, dancehall and trance.
Large and popular club with hip-hop, r & b, reggae and dancehall.
Every type of trance imaginable and once monthly indie night.