Fukuoka City (Fukuoka-shi; 福岡市) is the capital city of Fukuoka Prefecture (Fukuoka-ken; 福岡県) and is situated on the northern shore of the island of Kyushu (Kyūshū; 九州) in Japan.
Ranked 12th of the world’s most livable cities in the magazine Monocle in 2013, Fukuoka was praised for its green spaces in a metropolitan setting. It was also selected as one of Newsweek’s 10 “Most Dynamic Cities” in 2006. Fukuoka is the most populous city in Kyushu, with 2.5 million people living in the Greater Fukuoka metropolitan area. It is Japan’s 6th largest city, and is easily accessible via its international airport and shinkansen (i.e., bullet train) lines. The Tokyo-Fukuoka air corridor is one of the busiest in the world, with hourly flights from several carriers.
Fukuoka hosts more than 2 million foreign visitors with the majority coming from neighboring South Korea and China. Nearly ten thousand international students attend universities in or near the Fukuoka prefecture each year. Nearly 200 international conferences are held each year in Fukuoka.
Fukuoka’s cuisine draws heavily from Chinese influences, with Hakata Ramen (博多ラーメン) its most famous dish. Hakata Ramen is based on a milky-white pork-bone (tonkotsu; 豚骨) broth and features thin, lightly-colored, non-curly noodles. Ramen shops catering to any taste and serving any style, however, are abundant throughout the city, even at Fukuoka’s signature yatai (food stalls; やたい), some of which are pictured above.
Perhaps equal in fame is Fukuoka’s spicy cod roe (mentaiko; 明太子). Cod roe sacks are pickled in spicy hot peppers and are served cold atop rice or lightly seared. Foreign guests who have a taste for caviar or other fish-egg delicacies would be remiss to pass up this fiery, yet delicate, local treat.
Yet another spicy Fukuoka delicacy is takana (高菜), chopped mustard greens pickled with ground hot peppers. Takana can be served as a palate-cleanser alongside fattier dishes, added to fried rice for a hot-sour kick, or served atop rice [a favorite of mine is mixed with fermented soybeans (natto; 納豆) —Ed.].
Last in this far-from-conclusive list of great Fukuoka cuisine is the local shōchū (a distilled liquor made of several possible ingredients; 焼酎), in its many varieties available in the area. Relaxing with a shōchū on the rocks, the ice tinkling against the sides of the short, delicate glass is a surefire way to unwind after a long day at the conference.
There is a sprawling shopping arcade in Hakata Station offering these and many more popular Fukuoka foods and drinks, ready-packed for long trips home!