The oldest city in Japan

For a notably low-key city, Fukuoka has a fair few superlatives to its name. It is Japan’s closest city to Korea which means it can lay claim to being Japan’s oldest city. In other words, it was the first beachhead of civilization from the Asian mainland.

These days Fukuoka has some of the strongest business links with Asia. I was down there a few months ago to do a story on a Chinese company, then stayed an extra day to work on a travel story.

The main theme of my travel piece was Fukuoka “yatai” street stalls . . .


Fukuoka street stall

Fukuoka is pretty well known for its architecture. Canal city is a gaudy, futuristic, neon-lit shopping center.


Canal City in Fukuoka

Two more superlatives: Fukuoka has the oldest Shingon temple in Japan, containing the largest wooden Buddha in Japan:


giant buddha

It also has the oldest Zen temple:


Fukuoka, June 2009 – Images by Tony McNicol

2 Responses to “The oldest city in Japan”

  1. Duncan says:

    Great photos of a fun city!

    Quick question: I’m a Kyotoite and we have a temple here called Kenninji that the locals refer to as the oldest Zen temple in Japan, founded in 1202. I wonder which one is older, Shofukuji or Kenninji?

    To confuse matters still further, wikipedia (not always correct, but there you go) states:

    After his certification as a Zen teacher, Eisai returned to Japan in 1191, bringing with him Zen scriptures and tea seeds. He immediately founded the Hoonji Temple in remote Kyūshū, Japan’s first Zen temple.

    Maybe Hoonji is the old name for Shofukuji?

    • tony says:

      Well, I don’t know the answer to that one. I got my info from the temple itself. Fukuoka certainly isn’t remote Kyushu though, so Hoonji must be somewhere else.

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