In the old days it was divided into two sections by the Nakagawa River: the east area called "Hakata" was a town inhabited by Hakata merchants while the west, "Fukuoka," served as a castle town for the feudal Kuroda family. In 1889, the areas were merged and Fukuoka City was born. The name Hakata still remains however, as the name of Fukuoka's main train station.
The city fans out from Hakata station in a westward direction and Nakasu, between the Nakagawa and Hakatagawa Rivers, becomes a neon illuminated entertainment district at night. The business district on the opposite side of the Nakagawa River, the area also called Fukuoka, is lined with office buildings and restaurants and slightly further west lie the ruins of Fukuoka Castle. The moat of the castle has long since been redeveloped into a park named Ohori Park.
In the past, the port city of Hakata served as one of the nation's few gateways for foreign culture because of its proximity to China and the Korean Peninsula. Further into the past, Yayoi period inhabitants flourished in and around the area - a fact evidenced by numerous historical remains and cultural relics being discovered. Today though Fukuoka is the home of skyscrapers, a "Seaside Area" facing Hakata Bay represents the city's most modern of districts with its artificial beach stretching along the coastline as contemporary office complexes that have appeared along the Hakatagawa River will transform the city's landscape in their own right for at least the next decade.
- Beppu City, Oita Prefecture
- March 1 (Sat)-April 6 (Sun), 2014
The festival takes place in Kannawa Onsen and Takegawara Onsen in the area called Beppu Hatto, which means Beppu's eight hot springs, for one month. The steam rising from the Kannawa Onsen and Takegawara Onsen is beautifully illuminated with magical colors. You can thoroughly enjoy the mesmerizing atmosphere in these areas covered with steam, and, of course, enjoy relaxing in the different hot springs with their variations of water qualities, temperature, etc.
- Aso-gun, Kumamoto Prefecture
- February-May, 2014
This festival is held to celebrate the arrival of spring for people in the Aso area. It shows you why Kumamoto is called "country of fire." In the area around the Aso mountain range, various fire-related events, such as noyaki (burning of the fields to clear the land) and hifuri shinji (fire ritual) at Aso Shrine, are held as well as traditional performances and a local product fair. You can try some newly brewed local sake. In the Himojiyaki Festival, the kanji character for "hi" (fire) is created by fire, which is as large as 350 meters wide, on the slope of the mountains.
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