FUKUOKA (Kyushu Island)
Boasting Japan’s heady cocktail of hot springs, gourmet food, abundant nature and spiritual history, Kyushu Island has all the advantages of the mainland, while enjoying its own identity. The island is the third largest of Japan’s five island provinces and prides itself on having everything you could expect from the Land of the Rising Sun.
The capital of the island, Fukuoka, is Japan in a bite sized morsel. As one of the country’s most strategic ports – it is closer to Seoul than Tokyo – the city has enjoyed a somewhat prestigious status over the years, including two unsuccessful Mongol invasion attempts in the 13th century. Some scholars suggest that the city is also the first place the Imperial Family set foot, although actual proof of this is scarce. What is certain however is that it was once the home of the samurai, with many samurai related spots found all over the city. A trip to the Kyushu National Museum will allow budding actors to try on traditional costumes and channel their inner feudal lord, while local shrines, tranquil Zen gardens and castle ruins all offer a chance to relive the city’s glory days.
The city itself is made up of two smaller towns (Fukuoka and Hakata), and despite unification in 1889, Hakata is still considered the centre. A 2018 survey ranked the city number 22 on “the world’s most liveable cities” list, due to its excellent shopping, outstanding food, excellent transport links, good museums, “feeling of openeness”, green spaces and friendly, safe, environment.