Fukuoka (Hakata), Japan

Located on the northern tip of Japan’s Kyushu Island, Hakata harbor’s location close to the Asian mainland made it an important port from very ancient times, serving the early administrative center at Dazaifu near by. In the 13th century, the Mongol Kublai Khan tried twice to subdue the city, but his attacks were both foiled by typhoons, which earned the last one the name Kamikaze, meaning “Divine Wind.” In the late 19th century, Hakata and the nearby samurai city of Fukuoka were merged. Today Fukuoka is a large, modern and eminently livable city that still benefits from its proximity to Korea and other “Asian Tiger” economies. Attractions for visitors include a park surrounding the ruins of the samurai Fukuoka Castle; the Shokufuji Temple, Japan’s first Zen temple; and the Japanese Garden and Gokoku Shrine in Ohori Park. The Genko Historical Museum holds displays of Japanese and Mongol armor from the period of the Mongol invasions. Modern highlights include the shopping and entertainment complex of Canal City and the waterfront Momochi Seaside Park development. Near by, the old 7th Century city of Dazaifu offers the Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine with 6,000 flowering plum trees, the tranquil Komyozenji Temple with a lovely Zen garden, and the impressive, modern Kyushu National Museum.