A Walk in Kyushu


Whatever your mood, Fukuoka is full of interesting places to walk around

Coming out of Nishitetsu Fukuoka (Tenjin) Station, I felt the urge to walk around the streets. It reminded me of the slightly restless feeling I get when surfacing from Ginza subway station in Tokyo. I guess Tenjin must be the Ginza of Fukuoka. Sure enough, the street outside was lined with upmarket department stores, and crowds of stylish women gathered in front of fashion boutiques. Tenjin looked like the perfect place for a foreign businessman on the look out for a traditional Kyushu souvenir.

After souvenir shopping, I was in the mood for something a little more cerebral. “That’s right,” I thought. “Fukuoka is home to Dazaifu Tenman-gū, a shrine dedicated to Sugawara no Michizane, revered as the god of learning and scholarship.” I decided to head there next. I headed back to Nishitetsu Fukuoka (Tenjin) Station and spent the journey to Dazaifu Station watching the streets roll by. Leaving the station, I turned right to find the street leading to Tenman-gū. The street was lined on either side with souvenir shops and tea houses, and I could see many of the passersby stuffing their faces with plum-filled “umegaemochi.

I was peering into one of the tea houses when the road suddenly filled with people. First, a group of about 10 people appeared, their leader carrying a placard with characters I didn’t recognize. I then watched as more such groups followed in their turn. Straining my ear, I realized everyone in the crowd was speaking Chinese. It was a large group of Chinese tourists coming to pay homage to the god of scholarship. I told myself that perhaps, god-willing, the world might just be about see a sudden increase in the number of Chinese Nobel laureates in the near future.