Go west : Hakata in Fukuoka – General Info
Many native English speakers laughs when they see the name of the prefecture, Fukuoka.
(The common Japanese name “Takeshita” also makes them laugh.)
The name “Hakata”
“Hakata” is actually not the official name of the present city.
The city’s name is the same as the prefecture’s: “Fukuoka”.
However, the major JR (Japan railway) station is “Hakata” station, and probably many Japanese call the city “Hakata” rather than “Fukuoka”.
The name “Hakata” is shown in the book “Shoku-nihon-gi” (lit. “The sequel to the chronicles of Japan”) which was completed in 797.
On the other hand, “Fukuoka” has been used only from the Edo era.
Ieyasu Tokugawa, the first shogun of the Edo period, granted this area to the Kuroda family as a reward for their distinguished service in the Battle of Sekigahara.
The Kuroda family were from “Fukuoka” in Okayama (see my Osafune post), so when they built a castle there, which took seven years to finish, they started to call the area around the castle as “Fukuoka”.
So, “Fukuoka” was used for a samurai town, the west area of the “Naka” River.
And “Hakata” for a common people’s town, the east area.
In 1889 in the Meiji period, there was a fierce argument which name should be used for the city among the members of the city council from each area, “Fukuoka” or “Hakata”.
Although “Fukuoka” was chosen in the end, “Hakata” voices were still quite strong.
The name “Hakata” was used for the station, which was built in the same year, to lessen their frustration.
Members supporting “Hakata” were far from satisfied, though.
In the following year, one of them submitted a proposal to change the city name.
Again there was an acute discussion, and they decide to call for the vote.
There were 17 members from Hakata and 13 from Fukuoka.
Strangely enough, four of Hakata members were absent on vote (there was a rumour that they were locked up in a toilet).
13 votes each for each name, so the chairman from Fukuoka voted for his town name.
Well, I myself use “Hakata” for the city in my posts and “Fukuoka” for the prefecture, because “Hakata” is more familiar for me as the city’s name.
Also, just calling “Fukuoka” is confusing whether it means the city or the prefecture.
Hakata area is quite near to the foreign countries like Korea or China.
Thus, it’s been very important not only as an international trading area but also as a defending base since the old times.
I was expecting to see historical monuments because it’s such an old city, but I could find almost nothing in my travel guidebook.
Presumably, it’s because of a great US air raid on the city for about two hours in June 1945.
If you are not very keen on eating nor shopping, I don’t feel that there are many things to do or see in Hakata.
How to get there
The most common transportation is hi-speed train, shinkansen.
Take “Nozomi” from Tokyo.
It takes about five hours to get there.
Only some of “Nozomi” go to Hakata, which is a terminal station.
From Osaka, take “Nozomi”, “Sakura” or “Mizuho”.
Sakura and Mizuho go to other areas of Kyushu and they terminate at Kagoshima.
Takes about two hours and a half.
There are also express bus services to Hakata.
From Tokyo, it seems to take about 14 hours.
If you want to go there by air, it’s about two-hour flight.
Hakata Airport locates in the city centre: Only five-minute tube (metro) ride from Hakata JR station.
Tips for public transportations in Hakata
All the information is as of March 2015.
- “Otonari kippu” (Ticket to neighbour)
If your destination is just one-stop away, buy this ticket.
100 yen for adult.
- “Eco-chika kippu”
One day ticket on Saturdays, Sundays and Holidays only.
520 yen for adult, 100 yen cheaper than usual one day ticket.
Can be used solely for tube.
You also get a discount or service at the certain places with this ticket.
Fukuoka Tourist City Pass
Only available to foreign people.
You need to show your passport on your purchase.
Can be used for buses (served by two companies), JR (and Nishitetsu) trains, and the tube.
- Around Fukuoka City
820 yen for adult.
You can not get on Nishitetsu trains with this.
- Around Fukuoka City and Dazaifu
1340 yen for adult.
If you are going to Dazaifu, probably this is the best buy.
For more information, see here.
Next post: “Moomin Cafe”
#Dazaifu (1: General Info)
(2: Michizane – general)
(3: Michizane – legends)
(4: Michizane – vengeance)
(5: Michizane – Tenman-guu)
(6: Dazaifu – to the main shrine)
(7: Dazaifu – the main shrine and around)
(8: Dazaifu – Kyushu National Museum)
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