Foreign Tourists, irasshai!
Have you noticed the growing number of foreign tourists in Fukuoka? In 2007, eight million foreign tourists visited Japan, of which 719,000 cleared customs either at Fukuoka Airport or Hakata International Terminal. Over half of these were from Korea; visitors from Taiwan and China also came in increasing numbers. Europeans and North Americans, among others, are not included in these figures as they normally clear customs elsewhere. The biggest boost to tourism in Fukuoka has been the growth of cruise lines from China carrying one to two thousand passengers per voyage. Tourism in Fukuoka was also in the spotlight in a recent issue of UK-based Monocle magazine. Fukuoka was ranked 17th in Monocle’s list of most livable cities, and dubbed the world’s top “Retail City”. Gateway to scenic Kyushu Island, Fukuoka also offers all the attractions and conveniences of a world-class city. This makes it an attractive, friendly alternative destination, ideal for visitors looking a taste of urban Japan without the hassles and crowds of Tokyo and Osaka. With the growth of Fukuoka as a center of Japanese tourism demand for information for visitors in English, Chinese, and Korean has rapidly outpaced supply. In response, Fukuoka Now will soon release a FREE trilingual city map. Stay tuned for details, as our map will be just as useful for foreign residents as for tourists. Making it even easier for foreigners to spend their cash, Daimaru department store recently opened a seven-day-a-week foreign exchange counter. Details below.
Favorite Foods of Foreigners
Overseas visitors to Fukuoka come here hungry. Fortunately, Fukuoka is famous for fantastic food at reasonable prices. Let’s see where visitors to the city feast.
Everyone who comes to Japan is bound to try this fragrant noodle soup at least once! From its Chinese roots, ramen has evolved into a uniquely Japanese food. With its hearty pork bone broth and thin noodles, Hakata ramen has always been considered a maverick among noodle connoisseurs. However, recent years have seen creative innovations in both the broth and the noodles, making modern-day Hakata ramen more delicious than ever. Genei epitomizes this new-school ramen. All-natural ingredients, shellfish seasoned broth and original noodles combine to form a slurp-worthy treat you’ll never forget. For cutting edge ramen, why not visit Genei?
2-16-3 Yakuin, Chuo-ku, Fukuoka
11:30 ~ 14:30 / 18:00 ~ 24:30 (Sat., Sun. & Nat. Hol. 11:30 ~ 22:00)
Even for Japanese, visiting a sushi bar is no trivial matter. The fancier the place, the less likely it is to have a menu—and with the master awaiting your order, you’d better have your sushi-speak straight. Enter the revolving sushi bar. Convenience makes these restaurants a hit among foreigners. In fact, Sushi Kin sees upwards of fifty parties of tourists per day. Foreigners are welcomed, but being loud, lingering for hours and pointing at the sushi with chopsticks are all considered bad manners; so please mind yours. Remember, sushi bars are Japan’s most chic places to eat. Eat, pay, leave. That’s the Way of the Sushi.
2-8-222 Tenjin, Chuo-ku, Fukuoka
11:00 ~ 22:00
“Enjoy your lettuce motsunabe!” A pot heaped high with fresh lettuce is served… with each portion containing an entire head of lettuce! The birthplace of motsunabe culture, Fukuoka has given rise to a brand new recipe. Motsunabe contains beef or pork shiromotsu (innards) and vegetables, typically cabbage and Chinese leek. It became popular throughout Japan in the 1990s. Rich in collagen, motsunabe is great for the skin, making it popular with the ladies. For that extra collagen boost, Abou lets you add a collagen enriched egg to your pot. Check out Abou for the most progressive motsunabe in Fukuoka.
2-1-18 Daimyo, Chuo-ku, Fukuoka
18:00~24:00 (Fri. Sat. before Nat. Hol. ~01:00)
Japanese wagyu beef is world renowned for its remarkable quality. Many high-quality meats, like Kyushu’s famous Saga and Miyazaki beef, make their way to Fukuoka. Most of this meat is ranked “A5” by the Japan Meat Grading Association. The “A” signifies a higher than standard yield, while the “5” (in a 1-5 scale) indicates the finest quality as reflected in a high degree of marbling. Daitoen is popular for serving the choicest cuts of A5 class beef. The cattle that produce this beef are raised with great care under strict regulations. The exquisite pleasure of savoring Kyushu wagyu awaits you at Daitoen!
1-1-1 Kamikawabata-machi, Hakata-ku, Fukuoka
11:30 ~ 03:00 (OS 02:30)
Who’s Buying What & Where
Visitors from overseas are spending more and more money in our city’s shops. Where they are shopping and what they are buying might surprise you. Read on.
Everyone knows Japan is the home of the world’s leading electronics manufacturers, but are any of us prepared for the dazzling displays of high technology that surround us at superstores such as Best Denki, BIC Camera or the mother of all gadget shops, Yodobashi Camera? Foreigners buy their gadgets in Japan for three reasons: wider variety, newer models, and (sometimes!) cheaper prices.
Chinese and Korean tourists are buying digital cameras. Sony sells well, not because they are the best, but because their brand name is so strong overseas. Canon’s “Made in Japan” models are popular too. Pentax models with Chinese language support also enjoy an advantage. Digital camera cases, memory cards, and other accessories are also popular. The Chinese are also buying electronic dictionaries, especially Casio’s speaking dictionaries.
Surprisingly, it seems that Fukuoka’s drugstores are amongst the most popular places for visitors to drop some yen. High levels of quality and safety, wide variety and good prices are the reasons for their popularity. Japanese drugstores such as Matsumoto Kiyoshi and Drug Eleven are heavens-on-earth for foreign females looking for practical souvenirs and gifts from Japan.
Taiwanese visitors are buying the magnet-filled Rakuwa Necklaces. Sure they’re available in Taipei too, but here they are cheaper and “more powerful” to boot! Chinese from the mainland, on the other hand, are buying “Made in Japan” nail cutters by the handful! It seems Japan’s sword-smith technology has trickled down to toe level, resulting in the best clippers in the world. Popular brands include Green Bell and Kaijirushi. Popular cosmetic lines include DHC, Kose Sekkisei, and Shiseido. Hair coloring kits, facial masks, collagen, and other supplements are also strong sellers.
Foreigners are fascinated by Japan’s otaku (geek) culture, and for those that want to bring some of that home, there’s no better place than Mandarake. Imagine a multi-story department store filled with comics, figurines, cos-play outfits, and other bizarre collectors’ goods. Recommended even just for a browse. Everything for sale at Mandarake is pre-owned, and many items come in their original boxes or wrapping that’s as good as new.
Europeans, especially the French, are buying up special editions of comics from the 80′s. Hong Kongers are into the Jump! Comic series including Dragon Ball Z. North Americans are fond of Brick Bears; especially the collaboration models. There’s bears in every size, color, and price imaginable. Koreans go koo-koo for Gundam goods. While similar products are available in Korea, they are cheaper here, especially the second-hand ones at Mandarake. Not many foreigners buy cos-play outfits, but they enjoy looking at them!
5-7-7 Tenjin, Chuo-ku, Fukuoka
With that winning combination of variety, high quality, innovative products and reasonable prices, Japanese stationary shops truly rock! Lucky tourists will stumble into shops such as Incube (4F Solaria Stage), the boutique-styled Juliet’s Letters (1F ACROS Bldg.), or LOFT on Watanabe-dori.
Japanese ball point pens and sharp pencils are perennial favorites. There are just sooooo many to choose from! Greeting cards, postcards, and the elaborate ceremonial Japanese envelopes (normally for celebrations and weddings) make for practical and easy-to-pack souvenirs.
For traditional souvenirs of Japan, we recommend Beniya, a shop specializing in “wa-zakka”, Japanese general goods, fashion and accessories. Milli, a Japanese language student from Germany shows us her favorites.
Sensu, (folding fans) are compact and light, so they are easy to pack as souvenirs. (¥1,575~)
Milli chose this heavy cotton t-shirt with a sake brewery’s logo on it as a souvenir for her boyfriend.
Beniya has over 100 varieties of chopsticks on sale. Milli likes the two-piece portable kind. (¥1,365)
Furoshiki, (traditional textile wraps) come in a variety of patterns and include English language instructional DVDs (90 cm size, ¥1,890)
Colorful pre-owned kimono are on offer for as little as around ¥7,000 ~ . Milli goes for the bright orange one.
Japanese sandals are not for kimono. Milli says she wants to wear them with jeans. (All ¥3,990)
Old meets new in this funky bag, ideal for carrying home even more souvenirs. (¥19,950)
Beniya (Canal City)
B1F 1-2-22 Sumiyoshi, Hakata-ku
Open: 10:00 ~ 21:00
2F Marina Side 2-12-30 Odo, Nishi-ku
Open: 10:00 ~ 21:00