Comfort Hotel Hakata
Phone: (81) 92 431-1211
Fax: (81) 92 431-8015
Although founded in 806 by the scholar-priest Taishi Kobo, giving it the longest history of any temple in Fukuoka, the Tochoji Temple is housed in mostly modern buildings and gives the impression of being a place of active worship. Inside the main hall, you will find an 11-meter, 30-ton daibutsu (Buddha statue). Other noteworthy objects include the tombstones of the lords of the Kuroda clan, examples of calligraphy by the artist-priest Sendai, a thousand-handed statue of the goddess of mercy (designated an important cultural asset), and the calligraphy of the temple's founder, Taishi Kobo.
If the spirit of old Hakata resides anywhere, its must surely be within the walls of this famous landmark. Founded in 757 and long associated with the traders and merchants of the Hakata area, the shrine hosts important local festivals throughout the year, including Hakata Setsubun, Hakata Dontaku, Gion Yamakasa, and Hakata Okunchi. There is also a small museum inside the shrine's main precinct that details the history and culture of the Hakata area. English-language information is available from the shrine office.
This center is a branch of the Ministry of Education, and is intended to support both foreign and Japanese students in the Fukuoka area. Their duties include the following: helping students find accommodation they can afford, providing interest-free loans up to 100,000 yen, locating part-time work, and acting as a guarantor for apartments. The center also rents room within the building, including family rooms, for a couple of hundred thousand yen a month. Any student who is short on money should definitely pay a visit.
This district in the Hakata ward is Fukuoka's most famous and historic attraction. In pre-modern times, when Fukuoka was divided into two cities—the aristocratic Fukuoka to the west and the peasant and merchant populated Hakata to the east - Nakasu was the center of trade and economic activity. The district is located somewhat in the middle of Naka River; the river splits and converges again a couple of kilometers down, but you hardly have the feeling of being on an island. One notable feature, is that many of the establishments here are devoted to entertainment, primarily adult entertainment. Hence, Nakasu is sometimes referred to as Fukuoka's red-light district. Beyond that, though, there are numerous tasteful establishments and hotels in the region.
Visitors to this park will first ask why anyone would recommend it. There is a 6,000 square meter field and apparently little more. During the day, people eat portable lunches or modest meals sold by a nearby snack restaurant, kick soccer balls, feed pigeons, or even sleep. At night, it is basically deserted except for some freestyle bikers. Around the perimeter, homeless tend to set up their shelters. The attraction is actually the building that overlooks it, called ACROS. Its step garden provides excellent views of the city at the top, and its design and architecture have won numerous awards. In the spring, the cherry trees to one side are an added attraction.
Kego Park is a small park sandwiched between the NTT Building and Solaria Plaza in Tenjin. Although hardly an inner-city oasis of peace and quiet, this park does offer some of the best opportunities in Fukuoka for people watching. Day and night, weekdays and weekends, Kego is a sure bet if you want to experience Tenjin's youth culture. It is a favourite hang-out for young Fukuokans to parade the latest fashions, soak up the sun, and practice those all-important "Nampa" routines.
This building, both on the inside and the outside, is an architectural masterpiece. On the outside, facing Chuo Park, you have a step garden—yes, a garden planted on the entire side of a building. The lobby area inside almost creates an illusion; you have open space from the uppermost floors down to the two basement floors, making it seem to some as if there is more space inside the building than the structure would suggest from the outside. Windows and skylights give an added feel of airiness. Within ACROS, you will find restaurants, shops, Fukuoka Symphony Hall, other exhibition halls, lecture rooms, and several government establishments.
There are information pamphlets in this lounge for every place or town you could possibly want (or need) to visit in the entire prefecture. Other prefectures also send their information here, so if you plan to "light out for the territory," and are merely using Fukuoka City as a transfer point, then it may be well worth your time to drop by. Although information in Japanese is limited, volunteer staff members speak very good English and can offer you much assistance. Touch-panel multi-media computers, books, and other resources store a wealth of more detailed cultural information about Fukuoka, too.
Rainbow is a convenient information plaza operated by the city. Dozens of pamphlets are available in several languages for free, while other books, magazines, and literature is lined along shelves for your perusal. A bulletin board posts a variety of messages, from those looking for jobs or offering jobs, to individuals or groups looking for friends and members. The friendly staff of Rainbow has a wealth of information about almost everything related to the city, so do not hesitate to ask if you need some sort of assistance. Their free monthly publication is also a great source of handy information. The centre is closed every third Tuesday and on New Year's.
Those wishing to see the youth of Japan as they meander into their unknown future need go no further than this strip of a few blocks. Rare is the visitor over 30 years of age. Bars and clubs of almost every type-hip hop, transvestite, you name it-can be found here. There are a number of good restaurants as well, which redeem this area during the daylight hours as they cater to people on their lunch breaks. But the primary emphasis of this entertainment area is to satiate every decadent nocturnal desire. Recently, tacky yellow "private-video rooms" and less expensive host and hostess clubs have opened along Oyafuko-dori, giving the Nakasu district some "unhealthy" competition.
Just west of Chuo Park, along Naka River and just before the Fukuhaku Deai Bridge, there is an attractive building that is certain to catch your eye and pique your curiosity. As the building was constructed in 1910, the architecture reminds many of the very late Victorian age. Following construction, the general public used the building as a prefectural civil hall. After the second World War, it became the Fukuoka High Court, until the Fukuoka Prefectural Board of education moved in in 1956. Since 1981 it has been basically empty, except for tables, chairs, curtains, chandeliers, and other relics of an age gone by. Visitors may enter the building for a few hundred yen, but only those with an interest in older interior design and architecture would find it worthwhile.
Apart from the Fukuoka Dome, this "international center" is the largest venue in the city. The number of people the building can accommodate depends largely on the type of event and arrangement of seating, but it is literally several thousand. Notable sports events held here are the Kyushu Basho (sumo tournament) and international Judo competitions. Be aware that the place is so big, if you do not have seats near the floor, you will not be able to see much. The same goes for concerts, which are also held here regularly.