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Fukuoka

Our sincere thanks to our friend, Denis Graham, (14th ASA, Army) for granting our use of the remnants of their old web page. These wonderful images and memories from Brady/Hakata were accumulated by many of the Army troops listed in the photo captions, and honor those who served there between 1958 and 1972.

Fukuoka

This bird's eye view of Fukuoka was provided by Roger Rowen. In the upper left hand corner you can barely make out the peninsula that led to Gannosu, Camp Hakata, Saitozaki, and on toward the island of Shikanoshima. The large lake in the foreground is part of Ohori Park.

Fukuoka was the big city for the guys stationed at Hakata. There was only two routes to Fukuoka from base or Saitozaki. One drove, took the bus, or rode the train along the peninsula road, where you turned right at this store pictured at right. Or, you took the ferry from Saitozaki across Hakata Bay. And in the early days of the base Fukuoka was all that was available to the GIs, since both Saitozaki and Gannosu were "Off Limits."

The Nikkatsu, pictured right, was a central location in Fukuoka, and was known to us as the Nikkatsu Area. In the area were various bars, movie theaters and restaurants. A bus stop was near by, as well as a taxi stand, and the train station wasn't far away. Several theaters played American and foreign movies, as well as there being several that showed Japanese movies.

The picture is a night view of a street in Fukuoka, and the Asahi hotel (left of street), which on it's roof had the Ashai Beer Garden. Many hotels and other buildings had roof-top beer gardens, restaurants, or other types of entertainment.

Fukuoka was a medium sized city when the base at Hakata was in existence. Today, it has a population of nearly 1,800,000 and is the eighth largest city in Japan. It is also a major tourist attraction, bringing in some 15,000,000 tourist annually.

Fukuoka in the 1950's and '60's was a mixture of old and modern. Like the women at right, people dressed in both western and traditional clothing. Increasingly, business men and younger people turned toward the western style of dress.

While the main streets were paved, many side and residential streets were not. Street vendors roamed the city, or set up their sidewalk business at certain locations, selling mostly prepared food much like the hotdog, tamale and popcorn stands once common in America.

Private transportation consisted of walking or bicycle, with public transportation consisting of taxi cabs, buses and trains as the normal mode of transportation for the masses.

Ohori Park, pictured first above and at right, was also a gathering place for many GIs. The American Consulate, pictured above, was near the park. The Japanese gardens were beautiful, and the annual fireworks displays were fantastic. One could also stroll around the park, take row boats on the lake, or visit nearby restaurants with park views. Also near Ohori Park are the ruins of Fukuoka Castle, the Fukuoka City Zoo, Nichi (West) Park, and Kinryuji Temple. Since then other attractions have opened in the area, including the Fukuoka City Art Museum, Kourokan archeological site, and others.

Ohori Park also wasn't far from the ferry landing in Fukuoka. The picture at left is that of the Shimin Kaikan, which was near the ferry landing.



 

If you have pictures of Fukuoka from the 1940's through 1972, we'd love to have some of them posted here. This is a picture of the Night in Hakata, a popular GI bar in the 1960's.


Below are a couple of typical Fukuoka street scenes of the 1960's. The pilgrim in the picture lower right is a Buddhist Monk. He's playing a shakuhachi, a bamboo wind instrument, in front of a tobacconist's shop in the Kashi district.



 

Fukuoka also had a very nice public beach area in the Nichi Ward. This is a picture of myself on that beach in 1966. Although it was a great place to see pretty Japanese girls, it was difficult to meet them, since Japanese families naturally were reluctant for their daughters to associate with Americans, especially GIs. I can't imagine why.


The picture left is on a street in Fukuoka in 1960. Pictured is my wife's mother, Kiyoko Abe.
At right is a picture of a Shinto ceremony taken in 1966.

Below are pictures of the Buddhist Monk, Nichiren, and a memorial stone inscribed with a poem he wrote.



Below left is the ruins of the stone fortress that was built along the cost of Hakata Bay in 1276 in preparation of another Mongolian invasion. Originally, the fortress was some sixteen miles in length. Below right is a picture of Fukuoka Castle, built between 1601 and 1608.




As with all Japanese cities, Fukuoka has many shrines and temples. Pictured above is Gokoku shrine.



Fukuoka is famous for its Hakata Dolls (examples above). Hakata dolls are said to date to the early seventeenth century, when a roof-tile maker, Soshichi Masaki, presented the feudal lord of the Kuroda Clan with unglazed dolls that he had made.

For more Hakata Doll information, click this Link.

Above is Yusentei, Kuroda Villa. The villa was established by the feudal lords of the Kuroda clan.

I'm sure for many of us who were stationed at Hakata, Fukuoka and the surrounding area was an exotic adventure. Sometimes perhaps scary, sometimes perhaps fascinating, it was an adventure that we will all long remember.

My first venture into Fukuoka was made alone, in February 1965. I caught the bus in Saitozaki, and holding out my hand filled with Japanese coins, I simply said, "Fukuoka." The conductor took some coins and I was on my way. I had no idea where to get off. When I got to a section of large buildings, I got off. It just happened to be the Nikkatsu area.

I just walked around the streets for some time, taking in the feel of this exotic city, and watching the people and traffic pass by. Being from Kansas City, I was used to crowd, but Kansas City was nothing like Fukuoka. The traffic was unbelievable and so disorganized. Taxi's, three-wheeled trucks, and even buses seemed to pay no attention to traffic lanes. They just zipped about in a seemingly haphazard fashion. Pedestrians and bicycle riders were narrowly missed by motor vehicles, but were never hit.

I had just come to Japan after having been trained at the Army Finance School at Fort Benjamin Harrison, near Indianapolis, Indiana. Indianapolis was the dirtiest city I had ever seen, that was until I saw Fukuoka. However, although Fukuoka was dirty, with many unpaved streets and walkways, it still had a charm to it that I liked, and I still hold Indianapolis as the dirtiest city I've ever visited. In Fukuoka, it seemed to fit in, making it part of its allure.

The people were dressed in a mixture of traditional Japanese attire and western dress. Many wore getas, a wooden sandal, that looked like a torture to wear. Street vendors sold strange looking food: eels,squid, fish, strange rice and noodle concoctions, and other things I couldn't even guess at the time. Some also pushed carts filled with pots and pans or items that they sold from door to door or from a street corner. I also found Japanese restaurants fascinating. In their windows were elaborate displays of the dishes they prepared. Some looked quite appetizing, but some down right disgusting.

Eventually I went into a restaurant and ordered cheese and crackers, and a coke, not knowing and a little afraid of trying anything else. Afterwards I found an American movie playing at a theater and went in to see it, not knowing if it would be in Japanese or have Japanese subtitles. I don't remember the movie, but it was in English with Japanese subtitles and I enjoyed it.

When it was time to go back to base, I again held out my money to the conductor on the bus and made my way back to the camp, very pleased with myself that I had made my first excursion into Fukuoka alone. From then on I went into Fukuoka often.

One of my strongest memories of Fukuoka, however, was on a later trip. It was the first time I went to the main train station. From a block or more away, you could smell the odor coming from its public restrooms. It was so strong that it almost knocked you over. I always hated having to go through the station after that and avoided it whenever I could.

History of Fukuoka

Fukuoka has two names: Fukuoka and Hakata. The name "Fukuoka" dates back to 1601 when Kuroda Nagamasa, the first feudal lord in the area built a castle. He used part of the name of the hometown of his ancestors, "Bezen-Fukuoka" located in Okayama prefecture, to name his new castle town. "Hakata" first appeared in the "Chronicles of Japan, Volume II" as "Hakata-Otsu." The city is still known by both names today.

Excavations in Fukuoka show that people lived in the area during the Stone Age more than 10,000 years ago, and also show the life-styles prevalent in the Jomon era (8,000 B.C. to 300 B.C.).

During the Yayoi era (300 B.C. to 300 A.D.), farming culture and rice cultivation began in Japan. This is shown in the ruins of Itazuke where rice paddies have been discovered. The Yayoi era also proves that Fukuoka had close connections with the Korean Peninsula.

The following Kofun (burial mound) era, lasting to 600, saw efforts being made to unite all of Japan.

From ancient times until around 1600, the area was the most internationalized area in Japan. In 1987, ruins of the Korokan, an ancient diplomatic facility and guest-house, were discovered, that date back to the 7th century A.D. In place of Korokan, Hakata, during the Heian era (794 to 1191), became a prominent city and was a major trading center.

After the Kamakura era (1193 to 1392) Zen priests played a key role in diplomacy. In 1195 Priest Eisai opened Shofukuji temple, which was followed by the construction of Jotenji temple, and made Hakata his home. Also during the Kamakura era, Hakata experienced two Mongolian invasions and became the frontline defence against foreign attackers. Stone walls were built for protection against the Mongols and were the first of their kind in Japan.

With the beginning of the muromachi era (1392 to 1573), trade with China was active, in which Hakata merchants played a leading role. But, with the end of the era, many war lords battled to take control of Hakata, thus devastating the area. Toyotomi Hideyoshi eventually rebuilt the burned city and the Hakata merchants thrived again under the policy of a "free trade city."

During the Edo era (1615 to 1868), the government closed its doors on trade with other nations. Because of this, Fukuoka developed as a warrior town, while Hakata developed as a merchant town, of which both were nicknamed the "twin cities."

In 1871, after clans were abolished and prefectures were established, Fukuoka city took a step toward modernization in becoming a municipal body, and the "twin cities" eventually merged.

During the second World War, Fukuoka was bombed heavily, but not as badly as some. The city was one of the possible cites chosen on which to drop the A-Bomb, but Nagasaki was chosen instead.

Moving into the 21st century, Fukuoka has become a modern and culturally renowned city, and the eighth largest in Japan.



Casks of Saki

The picture below is of Fukuoka as it looks today. It has grown into Japan's eighth largest city, and is a major tourist attraction. It now has modern freeways and a subway system. You can see its modern, domed stadium and Fukuoka Tower, Fukuoka's tallest building, in this picture, with closer views of them below.



The tower is also known as the "Mirror Sail" because of its height and reflective glass. The stadium is home for the Fukuoka Daiei Hawks baseball team.



Night descending over Hakata Bay

Fukuoka had and has many sights worth visiting. They include Hakozaki Shrine, Majima Mast Stones, Kareno Mound, the ruins of Tachibana Castle, Kashii Shrine, Historical Hall of the Mongolian Invasion, Hakata Historical Hall, the ruins of Itazuke, Kushida Shrine, Zendo-Ji Temple, Nishi (West) Park, Kinryuji Temple, the ruins of Fukuoka Castle, Ohori Park, Fortress against the Mongolian Invasion, Monjudo Temple, Kin-In Park, the ruins of Nokata, Kotokuji Temple, Imazu Doll Theater, and many others, numbering well over a hundred sites. On the following pages I'll go into these sites in more detail.

These are some pictures my wife took on her trip to Fukuoka in 1990.


Fukuoka is divided into seven wards:Higashi, Hakata, Chuo, Minami, Jonan, Sawara, and Nishi. Below and on the following pages are a brief description of the cultural sites and events found within these sections of the city.

Click Here to Open More Info about Fukuoka