Fukuoka prefecture is a convenient gateway to Kyushu as well as a delicious destination in its own right. The capital city Fukuoka, formerly a merchant town named Hakata, is renowned for its food culture and traditional food stalls, or “yatai,” which have become the city’s trademark. This strong connection to food extends to the beautiful Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine, dedicated to the deity of learning, culture, and the arts, where tasty Japanese sweets are sold along the path leading to the temple.
The Kawabata shopping arcade, with its slogan “a street where you can discover the spirit of Hakata,” has small shops selling many handicrafts that originated in the old merchant town. Hakata-ori is a woven silk fabric known for strength and durability; it has been popular as a kimono sash for men with its unique rustling sound known as “kinunari” when tightened. Another local handicraft is the Hakata doll, made from unglazed clay with soft colors, realistic expressions and vibrant colors that give the dolls a unique appearance.