As of 2015, Fukuoka is Japan’s fifth largest city, having passed the population of Kobe. As of July 2011, Fukuoka passed the population of Kyoto. Since the founding of Kyoto in 794, this marks the first time that a city west of the Kinki region has a larger population than Kyoto. In ancient times, however, the area near Fukuoka, the Chikushi region, was thought by some historians to have possibly been even more influential than the Yamato region.
Exchanges from the continent and the Northern Kyushu area date as far back as Old Stone Age. It has been thought that waves of immigrants arrived in Northern Kyushu from mainland Asia. Several Kofun exist.
Fukuoka was sometimes called the Port of Dazaifu (大宰府, 15 km (9 mi) southeast from Fukuoka). Dazaifu was an administrative capital in 663 A.D., but a historian proposed that a prehistoric capital was in the area. Ancient texts, such as the Kojiki, Kanyen (found in Dazaifu) and archaeology confirm this was a very critical place in the founding of Japan. Some scholars claim that it was the first place outsiders and the Imperial Family set foot, but like many early Japan origin theories, it remains contested. Fukuoka is sometimes still referred to as Hakata, the central ward of the city.
In 923, the Hakozaki-gū in Fukuoka was transferred from Daibu-gū in Daibu (大分, 16 km (10 mi) northeast from Dazaifu) the origin of Usa Shrine and established as a branch of the Usa Shrine at Fukuoka. In Ooho (大保, 15 km (9 mi) south from Dazaifu), there are remains of a big ward office with a temple, because in ancient East Asia, an emperor must have three great ministries (大宰, 大傳 and 大保). In fact, there is a record in Chinese literature that a king of Japan sent a letter in 478 to ask the Chinese emperor's approval for employing three ministries. In addition, remains of the Korokan (鴻臚館, Government Guest House) were found in Fukuoka underneath a part of the ruins of Fukuoka Castle.
Kublai Khan of the Mongol Empire turned his attention towards 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 to 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 and 33,000 troops, including troops from Goryeo on the Korean Peninsula. This initial invasion was compromised by a combination of incompetence and severe storms. After the invasion attempt of 1274, Japanese samurai built a stone barrier 20 km (12 mi) in length bordering the coast of Hakata Bay in what is now the city of Fukuoka. The wall, 2–3 metres in height and having a base width of 3 metres, was constructed between 1276 and 1277, and was excavated in the 1930s.
Kublai sent another envoy to Japan in 1279. At that time, Hōjō Tokimune of the Hōjō 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 organized another attack on Fukuoka Prefecture in 1281, mobilizing 140,000 soldiers and 4,000 ships. The Japanese defenders, numbering around 40,000, were no match for the Mongols and the invasion force made it as far as Dazaifu, 15 km (9 mi) south of the city of Fukuoka. However, the Japanese were again aided by severe weather, this time by a typhoon that struck a crushing blow to the Mongolian troops, thwarting the invasion.
It was this typhoon that came to be called the Kamikaze (Divine Wind), and was the origin of the term Kamikaze used to indicate suicide attacks by military aviators of the Empire of Japan against Allied naval vessels during World War II.
Fukuoka was formerly the residence of the powerful daimyō of Chikuzen Province, and played an important part in the medieval history of Japan. The renowned temple of Tokugawa Ieyasu in the district was destroyed by fire during the Boshin War of 1868.
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 was more associated with the area's culture and remains the main commercial area today. On the other hand, the Fukuoka area was home to many samurai, and its name has been used since Kuroda Nagamasa, the first daimyō of Chikuzen Province, named it after his birthplace in Okayama Prefecture and the "old Fukuoka" is the main shopping area, now 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 city. 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 dialect, Hakata-ben.
Fukuoka is bordered on three sides by mountains and opens, on the north, to the Sea of Genkai.
It is located 1,100 km (684 mi) from Tokyo.
Fukuoka has a humid subtropical climate (Köppen: Cfa) and it has hot humid summers and relatively mild winters. The city also sees on average about 1,600 mm (63 in) of precipitation per year, with a stretch of more intense precipitation between the months of June and September. Along with much of the prefecture, Fukuoka City has a moderate climate with an annual average temperature of 16.3 °C (61 °F), average humidity of 70% and 1,811 annual daylight hours. Roughly 40% of the year is cloudy.
Winter temperatures rarely drop below 0 °C (32 °F) and it rarely snows, though light rain does fall on most days if not as consistently as on the Sea of Japan side of Honshu. Spring is warm and sunnier, 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 (77 °F) and 30 °C (86 °F). Summers are humid and hot, with temperatures peaking around 37 °C (99 °F). Autumn, often considered to be Fukuoka's best season, is mild and dry, though the typhoon season runs between August and September.
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 of maximum 7 of the Japanese intensity scale and hit at 10:53 am local time on March 20, 2005, killing one person and injuring more than 400. The epicentre of the earthquake was in the Sea of Genkai, along a yet-undiscovered extension of the Kego fault that runs through the centre of Fukuoka. 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.
A similar quake, with an intensity of 5+, also occurred one month later on April 20, 2005.
Fukuoka's major Kego fault runs northwest to southeast, roughly parallel to Nishitetsu's Ōmuta train line, and was previously thought to be 22 km (14 mi) long. It is estimated to produce earthquakes as strong as magnitude 7 at the focus approximately once every 15,000 years. If the focus were located at a depth of 10 km (6 mi), this would translate to an earthquake of a lower-6 magnitude (similar to the March 20, 2005 earthquake) in downtown Fukuoka if it were the epicenter. 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 Genkai Sea, the Kego fault is now thought to be 40 km (25 mi) long.
Following reports that the city has only prepared for earthquakes up to a magnitude of 6.5, several strong aftershocks renewed fears that the quakes might cause the portion of the Kego fault that lies under the city to become active again, leading to an earthquake as big as, or bigger than, the March 20 quake.
As of July 2016, the city had an estimated population of 1,550,627 and a population density of 4,515.64 persons per km². The total area is 340.60 square kilometres (131.51 sq mi). Fukuoka city is the Japan’s youngest major city and has Japan’s fastest growing population.
A government survey of 2013 found Fukuoka has 217 homeless.
Fukuoka is the economic center of the Kyushu region, with an economy largely focused on the service sector. Fukuoka city is also the largest startup city in Japan, and is the only economic zone for startup. They have various services for startups like startup visa, tax reduction and free business consultations for startups. Fukuoka city has the No.1 opening business rate in Japan. Large companies headquartered in the city include Iwataya and Kyushu Electric Power. Fukuoka is also the home of many small firms playing a supportive role in the logistics, IT and high-tech manufacturing sectors. Most of the region's heavy manufacturing takes place in the nearby city of Kitakyushu. The GDP in Greater Fukuoka, Fukuoka Metropolitan Employment Area, is US$101.6 billion in 2010.
Several regional broadcasters are based in the city, including Fukuoka Broadcasting Corporation, Kyushu Asahi Broadcasting, Love FM, RKB Mainichi Broadcasting and Television Nishinippon Corporation.
The port of Hakata and Fukuoka Airport also make the city a key regional transportation hub. Fukuoka houses the headquarters of Kyushu Railway Company (JR Kyushu) and Nishi-Nippon Railroad. Air Next, a subsidiary of All Nippon Airways, is headquartered in Hakata-ku; prior to its dissolution, Harlequin Air was also headquartered in Hakata-ku.
Fukuoka has its own stock exchange, founded in 1949. It is one of 6 in Japan.
Fukuoka was selected as one of Newsweek's 10 "Most Dynamic Cities" in its July 2006 issue. It was chosen for its central Asian location, increasing tourism and trade, and a large increase in volume at its sea and airport. Fukuoka has a diverse culture and a wide range of cultural attractions.
In its July/August 2008 issue, Monocle selected Fukuoka as number 17 of the "Top 25 liveable cities". It was chosen for excellent shopping, outstanding food, good transport links, good museums, "a feeling of openness in its sea air", green spaces and because it's friendly, safe, clean and close to the rest of East Asia.
Fukuoka hosts more than 2 million foreign visitors annually, with the majority coming from neighboring South Korea and China. From the early 2010s Hakata became the beneficiary of significant growth in cruise ship tourism; particularly with visitors from China. After expansion and redevelopment of the Hakata Port international passenger ship terminal, the number of cruise ship port calls in 2016 is expected to exceed 400.
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.
Sky Dream Fukuoka, located in Fukuoka City's western ward, was one of the world's largest Ferris wheels at a height of 120 meters. It was closed on September 2009. Fukuoka Castle located adjacent to Ohori Park in Maizuru 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. Ōhori Park is also the location of one of Fukuoka City's major art galleries. There is a newly opened Kyushu National Museum in nearby Dazaifu.
The Marine Park Uminonakamichi is located on a narrow cape on the northern side of the Bay of Hakata. The park has an amusement park, petting zoo, gardens, beaches, a hotel, and a large marine aquarium which opened in 1989. For tourists from other parts of Japan, local foods such as mentaiko, Hakata ramen and motsunabe are associated with Fukuoka. Yatai (street stalls) serving ramen can be found in Tenjin and Nakasu most evenings. Fukuoka Tower is near the beach in Momochi.
Itoshima, which can be found to the west of Fukuoka city, has recently become a very popular tourist destination. There are many beaches along the coast, notably Futamigaura beach, where there is a famous Shinto shrine in the ocean, and Keya beach, which hosts the annual Sunset Live festival every September. Inland, there is the Shingon Buddhist temple called Raizan Sennyoji, where there are many Buddhist statues and stunning autumn foliage.
The Fukuoka Asian Culture Prize was established to honor the outstanding work of individuals or organizations in Asia.
Fukuoka is home to many festivals (matsuri) that are held throughout the year. Of these, the most famous are Hakata Dontaku and Hakata Gion Yamakasa.
Yamakasa (山笠), held for two weeks each July, is Fukuoka's oldest festival with a history of over 700 years. The festival dates back to 1241 when a priest called Shioichu Kokushi saved Hakata from a terrible plague by being carried around the city on a movable shrine and throwing water. Teams of men (no women, except small girls, are allowed), representing different districts in the city, commemorate the priest's route by racing 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 traditional loincloths.
Each day of the two-week festival 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, men can be seen walking around many parts of Fukuoka in long happi coats bearing the distinctive mark of their team affiliation and traditional geta sandals. The costumes are worn with pride and are considered appropriate wear for even formal occasions, such as weddings and cocktail parties, during the festival.
Hakata Dontaku (博多どんたく) is held in Fukuoka City on May 3 and 4. Boasting over 800 years of history, Dontaku is attended by more than 2 million people, making it the 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. The full name is Hakata Dontaku Minato Matsuri.
The festival was stopped for seven years during the Meiji era. Since it was restarted in the 12th year of the Meiji era it has been known as Hakata Dontaku.
Notable musical names in J-pop include Ayumi Hamasaki (allegedly Japan's richest woman), singer-songwriter Ringo Shiina, hugely popular singer-songwriter duo Chage & Aska, singer-songwriter Eri Nobuchika, Misia and Yui. During the 1970s, local musicians prided themselves on their origins and dubbed their sound, Mentai Rock.
Morning Musume 6th generation member Reina Tanaka was also born here in 1989 along with 9th generation member Erina Ikuta in 1997.
Dominican songwriter and singer Juan Luis Guerra pays homage to the city in his bachata song Bachata en Fukuoka (2010).
HKT 48 have their own Theater at Nishitetsu Hall.
Fukuoka is served by Fukuoka Airport, the San'yō Shinkansen and the Kyushu Shinkansen high-speed rail line and other JR Kyushu trains at Hakata Station and by ferry. JR Kyushu and a Korean company operate hydrofoil ferries (named Beetle and Kobee) between Hakata and Busan, South Korea. The city has three subway lines, and the newest one, Subway Nanakuma Line, opened on February 2, 2005. A private railway line, run by Nishitetsu is also heavily used and connects the downtown area of Tenjin to the city of Ōmuta.
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, former owner Daiei sold the Hawks to Softbank Capital in 2004.
Fukuoka is home to a professional football team, Avispa Fukuoka.
Annual sporting events include:
Fukuoka has hosted the following sporting events:
Fukuoka City operates all public elementary and junior high schools, while the prefecture operates the high schools.