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On Kyushu Island, the most south-westerly of Japan’s four main islands lies the cosmopolitan Fukuoka City. The city is seen as a cradle of culture and its position facing Korea and China across the sea means that in both ancient times and more recently, the area has been more exposed to outside influence. Fukuoka City, also known as Hakata, has a 2,000-year history of trade, making it an incredibly friendly and welcoming city. It is also a great city for foodies!
Fukuoka is home to Japan’s first Zen Buddhist temple, Shofukuji, and also Rakusuien Garden, home to the famous Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine, dedicated to the god of academic achievement. Rakusuien is a garden that was originally built in 1906 for a Hakata merchant. In 1995, Fukuoka City overhauled the structure and reopened it as a traditional Japanese garden. Dazaifu Tenmagu shrines are dedicated to the spirit of the learned scholar Sugawara Michizane. Hundreds exists throughout Japan, but Fukuoka’s Dazaifu Tenmangu is considered one of the most important ones.
Nearby Yanagawa City is also a must see. The 4 km-long stretch of river that runs through the city has been designated a National Site of Scenic Beauty. Enjoy a relaxing time along the river, admiring cherry blossoms and irises in the spring, illuminated boats in the summer and colourful leaves in the autumn
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