Students tend to favour big or well known cities, but there is something to be said in favour of less prominent destinations. Take the example of Japan. Everyone knows the futuristic, bustling hub of technology and innovation that is Tokyo, but few people are aware of idyllic Fukuoka, although it is a wonderful place to learn Japanese.
Located on the North-Western tip of the Southern-most island of Japan, Kyushu, Fukuoka is Japan’s 6th largest city, just under two hours away from Tokyo by plane. It was voted the 12th most liveable city in the world this year, but what exactly makes Fukuoka so special?
Simply put, it’s a city with character. While Tokyo does impress with its bright neon lights and overwhelming availability of everything from gadgets to anime, it’s easy to get lost in this vast city.
Fukuoka is smaller, the people are friendlier, and quite simply, it feels like you are part of a large, extended family. Walk into any store, and the attendants all but fight each other for the opportunity to help you. It’s not uncommon for people to come up to you on the street if you look a little lost, and ask if they can help you with directions. While this is by no means uncommon in other parts of Japan, the frequency of these occurrences in Fukuoka does seem a bit above average!
Of course, Fukuoka has many other charm points: Public transportation within the city is very convenient – the airport is only about 12 minutes away by subway! Kyushu also boasts one of the best climates in the whole of Japan – it rarely snows in winter, and is not too hot in summer. Even on the hottest summer days, there are beautiful beaches to cool off at!
If you’re a foodie, you can’t go wrong with Fukuoka. The city is famous for its ramen, something you will find in abundance alongside street stalls selling everything from motsu-nabe to mentaiko.
Fukuoka is also mostly safe from natural disasters, having been sheltered from the earthquake/tsunami of 2011, as well as various typhoons that ripped through the Kantou region earlier this year.
So, if you’re wondering why you should visit Fukuoka, a better question might be: why not? We’d love to have you!
Elizabeth Kruger was an exchange student at Genki Japanese and Culture School in 2008 and again in 2010. She now lives in Fukuoka and holds a Marketing position at the school.