Monday, August 11, 2014

Free Views of the City series: Acros Rooftop Step-Garden

For anyone who enjoys hiking more for the exercise and nice views than for getting away from the city, there's a spot for you right in the middle of urban Fukuoka.

The famous ACROS building, a 5-minute walk from Tenjin station, features staircases going up to the rooftop, as part of a step garden built into the south face of the building. The staircases are surrounded by greenery, making you feel as though you're in a mountainside park somewhere. There's even a waterfall going down one side, cascading down in front of the windows of one of the best-located cafes in town.

At just over 60 metres and 14 storeys tall, this is by no means a challenging hike, or even really a "hike" at all. But it is a nice little unadvertised, free place to visit, relax and unwind.

Note: the staircases are closed to the public in evenings and overnight; the roof level is normally closed except on weekends. Open and closing times current as of posting are shown below. More info about ACROS can be found here: (However, you might need to check the Japanese pages for really up-to-date info.)

The Step Garden is open to the public, accessible from two entrances on the park side. It cannot be accessed from inside the building. Opening hours vary according to the season so please check the times below.

Opening Times
・March to April 9:00〜18:00
・May to August 9:00〜18:30
・September to October 9:00〜18:00
・November to February 9:00〜17:00

・Rooftop Observation Deck open 10:00 to 16:00 on weekends and public holidays.
・Closed during inclement weather.
・Smoking prohibited in garden (including Observation Deck).
・Pets prohibited.

This isn't even from the roof level.

The sign reads: When it was built, there were 76 species of plant and 37,000 plants within the step-garden; since then, it's grown to be approximately 120 species and 40,000 plants. [...] There are 58 signs with information about different species throughout the garden. Please enjoy a few moments of down-time here on 'ACROS Mountain'.

Aburayama doesn't look so high from here...

One part of ACROS' gushing waterfall.
ACROS as seen from Tenjin Central Park in late Autumn

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Hidden Statue of the Earliest Pro Wrestler of Feudal Japan

This foreboding fellow is hidden away in Sumiyoshi Shrine, located south of Hakata station and Canal City. According to the inscription next to it, he was a sumo wrestler in the early 19th century. I guess sumo wrestlers used to be muscular, not fat? Either that, or the statue's artist was prone to flattery.

I'm not sure what the connection could be between a sumo wrestler and a religious shrine. Usually, you see statues of foxes, warriors or historical figures at places like this. As far as I know, this is the only place where a sumo wrestler is revered.

The statue's eyes seemed to be made of gold. They gave it an eerily life-like (yet demonic) look, as if it were one of those pantomimes who pretend to be a statue.

Friday, August 8, 2014

The Creepiest Sign In Japan?

Another of Fukuoka's #1s!

This is the sign for local sweets company Fugetsu. The sign is on the side of their building facing the Nishitetsu Tenjin-Omuta line between Ohashi and Hirao stations. Adorned with red eyes that light up at night, their mascot, Yuki-usagi ("Snow Bunny") glares menacingly at the trains' passengers.


 Here's a closer view:

Interesting marketing strategy: scare the f##k out of potential customers.

Of course, 'Yukiusagi' refers to the kind of Japanese confectionary the company makes. It's a kind of marshmallow filled with jelly. Or egg yolk. I'm not quite sure. In any case, they're shaped like rabbits and usually white. For comparison, this is what the actual confectionary looks like:
 (Source: user Muyo, Wikimedia Commons)

As you can see, the bunnies' eyes are indeed red, but they neither glow nor bleed, and are much smaller. Cute, not creepy. 

Why, then, is the sign like something out of a horror movie? We may never know.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Infographics - Fun Facts!

The City of Fukuoka's government has become reknowned for their progressive, foreigner-friendly policies. From making subway announcements in three foreign languages to anti-discrimination campaigns in the city's newspaper, they have been stepping up efforts to make Fukuoka an international city.

Their winning streak continues with this visually slick repository of fun facts about the city, presented in English infographics. Topics range from the number of Mexican restaurants in the city (apparently, a lot) to the length of coastline per capita vs. other major cities. Whether you're a proud ex-pat who wants to show off how awesome your new hometown is, or a proud local who wants to show off how awesome your hometown is, check these out! If you haven't yet been to Fukuoka, these fun facts might just convince you to go!

Fukuoka Facts

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Fukuoka Overlooked, Part 1: Nokonoshima's Hilltop Tower

Fukuoka Overlooked is a series on less-well-known places to visit, things to see, and businesses to patronize. Everyone knows about Fukuoka Tower, Yahoo! Dome, Hakata-za, and the yatai of Nakasu, but here we'll be showing the hidden gems and little things of interest that most tour brochures omit.

First up: Nokonoshima's lookout tower.

Nokonoshima, or Noko Island, is one of Fukuoka's most-visited tourist hotspots, as well as being a favorite with locals. Different species of flowers populate its fields nearly year-round, and sandy beaches with a view of the city await Summer's beachcombers. But most people only visit for the fee-for-entry park, and overlook the rest of the island.

The toll-park only occupies a small portion of the island's northern area. The rest is free to explore! So instead of taking a bus from the ferry terminal straight to the park, consider setting off on foot and winding your way around the island.

At the center of the island is a small hill which makes for a good 30 minute hike. It leads up roads lined with old houses, new schools and seemingly unused fields. At the top, there's a 20-metre or so lookout tower with an excellent, panoramic view of Fukuoka city and the entire harbour area.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Fukuoka Is Awesome Will Be Awesome

Welcome! This is a brand-new blog dedicated to the awesomeness of Fukuoka, Japan.

A bustling commercial center of over 1.5 million on the West coast of Japan, Fukuoka is an under-rated, overlooked city. This blog's goal is to promote the city across the English-speaking world.

Anyone interested in submitting content - articles, photos, links - can and should contact us!