Many wealthy merchants flourished in Hakata during the Sengoku period (approx. 1467–1568), but the fortunes they amassed made the area a military target and repeated attacks saw much of it burnt to the ground. However, in 1587 Toyotomi Hideyoshi allied with local merchants to revive the area as a major commercial hub. The main street of that time became a focus of further reconstruction work following World War II, when it was expanded to a width of 50m and renamed Taihaku-dori, which roughly translates to “Hakata’s Main Street”. It stretches 1.8 km from Hakata Station to Fukuoka Sun Palace and is a great starting point for any Hakata adventure.
Along the east side of Taihaku-dori is Gokushomachi. This historical area contains many shrines and temples, including Japan’s oldest Zen temple, Shofukuji, which was built in 1195. Nearby Tochoji temple is also worth checking out for its 10.8-meter-tall 30t Buddha statue and hexagonal hall. For a further “taste” of Japanese history, head across the river to the Katakusa area, where you’ll find the sake brewery Hakata Hyakunengura. Dating from the early Meiji period, the elegant building stands out from its urban surroundings.
From the Meiji Period until the early 1960s, Taihaku-dori was a booming business street, with trading companies and the Daimaru department store among those attracted to the area. In 1951, Café Brasileiro, beloved hangout of novelists such as Ashihei Hino and Kyusaku Yumeno, moved into the area and has been a favorite of local business men and women ever since.
From merchants to businessmen, Hakata’s economic movers and shakers have long been drawn to Taihaku-dori. The successful opening of the JR Hakata City building in March suggests it will continue to thrive into the future too.
This Japanese snack food emporium has been selling tasty traditional treats for 82 years. Over 70 products on sale and a café area serving fresh sweets (from ￥94), soft serve ice cream (from ￥200) and green tea (￥250).
A sake brewery built in the early Meiji era. You can sample and buy sake (720ml ￥1,000) and also learn all about the brewing process in their video room (reservation required, English available).
The oldest café in Fukuoka, established in 1934 and known as a hangout for local literati in the early Showa era. Six types of coffee, including classic blend (￥450), and a variety of lunch items such as hamburger steak (￥990).
This shop specializes in restoring vintage and collectable small motorcycles (49~125cc). The owner is a local.
Sells many hard to find Chinese foods and ingredients including frozen foods.
A manjyu (Japanese sweets) shop run by a former sumo wrestler. Sells soft ice cream too!
Pagoda in Tochoji
This 5-storey pagoda was completed in Spring 2011 and is the background for this month’s cover.
View Fukuoka Now Around Town “Taihaku-dori” in a larger map
Originally published in Fukuoka Now magazine (fn154, Oct. 2011)