Jan 1, 2016
Whether your travel agenda includes food, art, culture, or all of the above, you’ll find them all in Fukuoka.
Dedicated to collecting and showcasing modern and contemporary art in Asia, the museum possesses around 2,700 art works created between the end of the 18th century to the present, across 23 countries and regions in East, South and Southeast Asia. Stop by to appreciate the well-curated collection on display at any given time, and celebrate the rich, original and distinctive aesthetics of Asian art, via folk, ethnic and popular forms.
Located in the town of Dazaifu, this is the main Tenmangu shrine dedicated to the spirit of Michizane Sugawara (845-903 AD), the God of literature and learning. Thousands of plum trees, a favourite of Michizane’s, fill the shrine, and the main hall dates back to 1591. The shrine is a popular destination for students, especially during the entrance exam season; so be sure to pick up a good luck charm or two from the shops around the main hall – be it study or education-related ones, or those pertaining to health and other areas.
The road leading up to the shrine is also lined with stalls selling all manners of snacks, souvenirs and knick-knacks. There’s nothing like strolling down the picturesque street – even the Starbucks here is beautiful, designed by famed Japanese architect Kengo Kuma – while sinking your teeth into umegae-mochi, a grilled mochi cake stuffed with warm red bean paste.
With its vast network of canals, Yanagawa area is often called the Venice of Japan. As in Venice, one of the must-dos in “the city of water” is to go on a river cruise in a gondola, taking in the gorgeous surroundings while being serenaded by the boatman. The other must-do is to visit Ohana, the former residence of the feudal lord, Lord Tachibana’s family – the garden, Shoto-en, is a national designated site of scenic beauty that will take your breath away.
Built in 757 AD, this is the oldest shrine in Fukuoka city, and is affectionately called “Okushida-san”, protector of Hakata, by locals. Hakata Gion Yamakasa Festival, a renowned ritual dedicated to Kushida shrine with a history of over 770 years, takes place in July; but you can lay eyes on its gingko trees (a symbol of the shrine), the Hakata Historical Museum (displaying the shrine’s treasures) and the permanently exhibited Yamakasa float throughout the year.
Koishiwara-yaki is a style of traditional everyday pottery produced in the Koishiwara area, using the local clay. With the philosophy “beauty in utility”, its signatures are distinctive geometric designs – the most famous being “tobiganna”, where a metal blade is used to carve half-dry clay on a rotating wheel – and the warmth of its medium, translated onto practical earthenware. Dotted with around 50 kilns and ceramic workshops, you can admire the craftsmen’s work and pick up some artisanal wares at the same time.
Yame city is famous for its specialty goods like Yame tea – the city is one of the largest Japanese tea producers, and the most well-known plantations in Fukuoka are found here – and traditional crafts such as Yame handmade Japanese paper, paper lanterns, wax and Buddhist altars. View them all under one roof at Yame Traditional Craftwork Centre, which also houses the Yame Folk Museum and Hand-made Japanese Paper Museum on its premises.
Established in 1832, Yamaguchi Shuzojo produces sake under the label Niwa no Uguisu (“Bush Warbler in the Garden”, see page 46,47). Every spring, the brewery opens its doors for kurabiraki, a sake festival where customers can sample different sakes, view a rotating patchwork exhibition, and tuck into food specially prepared for the festival. You can also pop over next door to Uguisubar, the brewery’s pop-up sake bar, where you can slowly sip and savour your choice of sake.