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Fukuoka, Fukuoka

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Masanobu Fukuoka, author of 'The One Straw Revolution', is the pioneer of 'No Till' grain growing (see also permaculture)


Fukuoka is also the name of two towns in Japan, Fukuoka, Toyama (in Toyama Prefecture) and Fukuoka, Gifu (in Gifu Prefecture)


Template:Japanese city

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View of downtown Fukuoka as seen from an observation deck in Minami-ku, facing north.

Fukuoka (福岡市; -shi) is the capital city of Fukuoka Prefecture and is situated on the northern shore of the island of Kyushu in Japan, across the Korea Strait from South Korea's Busan. It is the most populous city in Kyushu, followed by Kitakyushu, together with which it forms the Fukuoka-Kitakyushu metropolitan area. The city was designated on April 1, 1972 by government ordinance and has been Kyushu's economic and cultural center since the 1930s.

Fukuoka is served by Fukuoka Airport, the Sanyo Shinkansen high speed rail line at Hakata Station and by ferry. JR Kyushu operates a hydrofoil between Hakata and Busan, South Korea. The subway opened a new line, the Nanakuma line, in February 2, 2005.

Sometimes known as The Liverpool of Japan, Fukuoka has produced a higher number of successful music artists than any other city in Japan. Big names in J-Pop include Ayumi Hamasaki (allegedly Japan's richest woman), Shina Ringo and Spitz. During the 1970s, local musicians prided themselves on their origins and dubbed their sound, Mentai Rock. In recent years, the music scene has been rejuvenated by the willingness of local players to perform with foreign musicians located in the area. These hybrid bands include the likes of Fever, Cut Flowers, Dr. Funkinstein, F8 & The Routes.

Contents

History

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Stone barrier in Fukuoka

Mongol invasions (1274-1281)

Fukuoka's Hakata bay is Japan's gateway to Korea and China. Gateways, of course, attract interest; after having conquered and terrorised the continent, the great Mongol Kublai Khan of the Mongol Empire turned his attention to Japan starting in 1268, exerting a new external pressure on Japan with which it had no experience. Kublai Khan first sent an envoy to Japan to make the Shogunate acknowledge Khan's suzerainty. The Kamakura Shogunate refused. Mongolia repeatedly sent envoys thereafter, each time urging the Shogunate accept their proposal, but to no avail.

In 1274 Kublai Khan mounted an invasion of the northern part of Kyushu with a fleet of 900 ships 33,000 troops, which included troops from Goryeo (currently the Korean peninsula). This first invasion was compromised by a combination of incompetence and storms.

After the first invasion of 1274, the Japanese samurai built a stone barrier 20 kilometers in length bordering the coast of Hakata Bay in what is now Fukuoka city. The wall, between 2-3 metres in height and having a base width of 3 metres, was constructed between 1276 and 1277 and was excavated again in the 1930s.

Kublai sent another envoy to Japan in 1279. At that time, Hojo Tokimune of the Hojo clan (1251-1284) was the Eighth Regent. Not only did he decline the offer, but he beheaded the five Mongolian emissaries after summoning them to Kamakura. Infuriated, Kublai made another attack on Fukuoka Prefecture in 1281, reinforcing the troops to 140,000 soldiers and 4,000 ships. The Japanese warriors, numbering around 40,000, were no match for Mongolians and the Kublai invasion force made it as far as Dazaifu, 15 kilometers south of the city of Fukuoka. By sheer luck, the Japanese were aided by another typhoon which struck a crushing blow to the Mongolian troops, however, and the invasian was thwarted.

It was this typhoon that was original called the Kamikaze (Divine Wind).

Formation of the modern city (1889)

Fukuoka was formerly the residence of the powerful daimyo of Chikuzen, and played a conspicuous part in the medieval history of Japan; the renowned temple of Ieyasu in the district was destroyed by fire during the Boshin war of 1868. (adapted from 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica)

The modern city was formed on April 1, 1889 with the merger of the former cities of Hakata and Fukuoka. Historically, Hakata was the port and merchant district, and as such was more associated with the area's culture: it remains the main commercial area. On the other hand, the Fukuoka area was home to many samurai, and its name has been used since Kuroda Nagamasa, the first daimyo of Chikuzen, named it after his birthplace in Okayama Prefecture. Today, the old Fukuoka is the main shopping area called Tenjin.

When Hakata and Fukuoka decided to merge, a meeting was held to decide the name for the new city. Hakata was initially chosen, but a group of samurai crashed the meeting and forced those present to choose Fukuoka as the name for the merged cities. However, Hakata is still used to refer to the Hakata area of the city, and most famously to refer to the city's train station, Hakata Station, and its dialect, Hakata-ben.

Fukuoka in the 20th century

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ACROS International Hall, Fukuoka.
  • 1903: Fukuoka Medical College, a campus associated with Kyoto Imperial University, is founded. In 1911 the college is renamed to Kyushu Imperial University and established as a separate entity.
  • 1910: Fukuoka streetcar service begins.
  • 1929: Flights commence along the Fukuoka-Osaka-Tokyo route.
  • 1945: Saturation bombing of Japanese cities commences on Honshu with Fukuoka one of the targets. Vivisections of American POWs are performed at Kyushu Imperial University Hospital.
  • 1947: First Fukuoka Marathon.
  • 1951: Fukuoka airport opens.
  • 1953: Fukuoka Zoo opens.
  • 1976: Subway commences service.
  • 1988: Osaka's pro baseball team, the Nankai Hawks, are moved to Fukuoka and renamed the Fukuoka Daiei Hawks.
  • 1995: ACROS (Asian Crossroads Over the Sea), a multipurpose convention and cultural center, is founded to encourage increased relations with other Asian countries. It is located downtown in Tenjin, and features a large park, terraced gardens, a library and other facilities for encouraging peaceful relations with other Asian cultures.

Geography

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Fukuoka as viewed from space.
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The view downstream along Nanokawa (Na River) from Canal City in Hakata-ku. Nishi-Nakasu and Tenjin are situated to the left of the river, and Nakasu is on the right.

Fukuoka is bordered on three sides by mountains and opens, on the north, to the Sea of Genkai. Much of the city is now built on reclaimed land, with ongoing developments in Higashi-ku building more artificial islands.

Located 1100 km from Tokyo, 540 km from Seoul and 870 km from Shanghai, Fukuoka's proximity to Korea and China has led it to seek closer ties with those countries while acting as a hub for Asian cultural and economic exchange.

Climate

Along with much of the prefecture, Fukuoka City has a moderate climate with an annual average temperature of 16.3°C, average humidity of 70%, 1811 annual daylight hours and 205 cm of precipitation. Roughly 40% of the year is cloudy.

Winter temperatures rarely drop below 0°C and it is generally rainy with occasional, brief snowfalls. Spring is warm and more sunny, with Cherry blossoms appearing in late March or early April. The rainy season (tsuyu) lasts for approximately six weeks through June and July, during which time the humidity is very high and temperatures hover between 25°C and 30°C. Summers are humid and hot, with temperatures peaking around 37°C. Fall, often considered to be Fukuoka's best season, is mild and dry, though the typhoon season runs between August and September.

Earthquakes

Main article: 2005 Fukuoka earthquake

Fukuoka is not as seismically active as many other parts of Japan, but does experience occasional earthquakes. The most powerful recent earthquake registered a lower 6 on the Japanese intensity scale and hit at 10:53 am local time on March 20th, 2005, killing one person and injuring more than 400. The epicentre of the earthquake was in the Sea of Genkia, along a yet-undiscovered extension of the Kego fault that runs through the centre of Fukuoka. Genkai-jima (Genkai island), a part of Nishi-ku, was the most severely damaged by the earthquake and almost all island residents were forced to evacuate. Aftershocks continued intermittently throughout the following weeks as construction crews worked to rebuild damaged buildings throughout the city. Traditional Japanese houses, particularly in the areas of Daimyo and Imaizumi, were the most heavily damaged and many were marked for demolition, along with several apartment buildings. Insurance payments for damages were estimated at approximately 15.8 billion yen.

Fukuoka's most famous major fault, the Kego fault, was runs northwest to southeast, roughly parallel to Nishitetsu's Omuta train line, and was previously thought to be 22 km long. It is estimated to be produce earthquakes as strong as magnitude 7 at the epicenter approximately once every 15,000 years. If the epicenter were located at a depth of 10km, this would translate to an earthquake of a lower-6 magnitude (similar to the March 20, 2005 earthquake) in downtown Fukuoka. The probability of an earthquake along the known length of the Kego fault occurring within 30 years was estimated at 0.4% prior to the March 20, 2005 earthquake, but this probability has been revised upwards since. Including the new extension out into the Sea of Genkai, Kego fault is now thought to be 40 km long.

Following reports that the city has only prepared for earthquakes up to a magnitude of 6.5, several strong aftershock renewed fears that the quakes might cause the portion of the Kego faultline that lies under the city to become active again, leading to a an earthquake as big as, or bigger than, the March 20th quake.

Wards

Fukuoka has 7 wards (ku):

  Ward Population  Land Area Pop. Density
(as of 2004) (km²) (/km²)
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Higashi-ku 275 652 66.68 4134
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Hakata-ku 190 178 31.47 6043
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Chuo-ku 163 975 15.16 10816
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Minami-ku 247 913 30.98 8002
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Jonan-ku 127 952 16.02 7987
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Sawara-ku 207 851 95.88 2168
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Nishi-ku 177 625 83.81 2119

Demographics

As of March 2005, the city had an estimated population of 1,391,146 and a density of 4,084.40 persons per km². The total area is 340.60 km². With an average age of 38.6 years, Fukuoka is Japan's second youngest major city and with a growth rate of 4.4%, is also Japan's second-fastest growing city (based on 2000 census data).

Popular attractions

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Fukuoka Tower

Sky Dream Fukuoka, located in Fukuoka City's western ward, is one of the world's largest ferris wheels at a height of 120 metres(about 400 feet). Fukuoka Castle located adjacent to Ohori Koen (Park) features the remaining stone walls and ramparts left after a devastating fire during the upheaval of the Meiji Restoration. It has now been preserved along with some reconstructed prefabricate concrete towers constructed during the 1950s and 1960s, when there was a trend across Japan to rebuild damaged castles as tourist attractions.

Festivals

Fukuoka is home to several festivals that are held throughout the year. Of these, the most famous are Hakata Dontaku and Hakata Gion Yamagasa.

Yamakasa

Yamakasa, held for two weeks each July, is Fukuoka's oldest festival with a history of over 700 years. Teams of men (no women, except small girls, are allowed), representing different districts in the city, race against the clock around a set course carrying on their shoulders floats weighing several thousand pounds. Participants all wear "shimekomi" (called "fundoshi" in other parts of Japan), which are the G-string-llike loin cloths worn by Sumo wrestlers. Each day of the two-week festival period is marked by special events and practice runs, culminating in the official race that takes place the last morning before dawn. Tens of thousands line the streets to cheer on the teams. During the festival period, men can be seen walking around many parts Fukuoka in long "happi" coats bearing the distinctive mark of their team affiliation and traditional "geta" sandles. The costumes are worn with pride and are considered appropriate wear for even formal occasions, such as weddings and cocktail parties, during the festival period.

Hakata Dontaku

Hakata Dontaku (博多どんたく) is held in Fukuoka city on May 3rd and 4th. Boasting over 800 years of history, Dontaku is attended by more than 2 million people, making it the Japanese festival with the highest attendance during Japan's Golden Week holidays. During the festival, stages are erected throughout downtown for traditional performances and a parade of floats is held. It's full proper name is Hakata Dontaku Minato Matsuri (博多どんたく港まつり).

The festival was stopped for 7 years during the Meiji era, and since it was restarted in the 12th year of the Meiji era it has been known as Hakata Dontaku.

Universities

Sports

Fukuoka is the home of the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks, one of Japan's top professional baseball teams. Threatened with bankruptcy and forced by its creditors to restructure, in 2004 former owner Daiei sold the Hawks to Masayoshi Son of Softbank Capital. The team name was changed to Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks from the 2005 season.

Fukuoka is also home to a professional soccer team, Avispa Fukuoka, which is currently playing in Japan's second-tier league J2.

Sports facilities

Sister Cities

Fukuoka has several sister cities:

External links

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Template:Fukuokaar:فوكوأوكا ca:Fukuoka da:Fukuoka de:Fukuoka es:Fukuoka fr:Fukuokaja:福岡市 id:Fukuoka la:Beatoclivium lt:Fukuoka nl:Fukuoka pl:Fukuoka pt:Fukuoka

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