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Published on 04.27.2016
Christmas celebrations are rather new to Japan, but any festival involving bright lights and lots of food is readily welcomed. Hakata Station in Fukuoka is no exception. The station and surrounding area are lit with winter illuminations, annually put up during the Christmas season.
Hakata Station is the major station of the Hakata ward on the northern shore of Kyushu island. It's one of the oldest cities in Japan, dating back to the Middle Ages, as its location made it an ideal place for merchants to transport goods from Japan to China and Korea. Its importance in trade allowed a rich culture to grow that slightly differs from the rest of Japan, with many residents speak in the local Hakata-ben dialect.
Recommended illumination viewing locations
Hakata Canal City
A 10-minute walk away from JR Hakata Station is the largest shopping and entertainment complex in Fukuoka, Canal City Hakata. As the name suggests, this fanciful attraction filled with shops, restaurants, a cinema and hotels even has a canal running through the complex. The lights that surround this area, illuminating the many sculptures and fountains are a must-see location during the Christmas season.
Surrounding JR Hakata Station are European-style Christmas markets. Here you can find Christmas food and drinks, such as pints of beer and hotdogs. Stalls also selling locally made goods could make a great souvenir buying opportunity!
Other ways to celebrate the Winter season in Fukuoka
Fukuoka Tower is a 25-minute bus ride from Hakata Station. This 234-metre tower, maybe recognisable from the 1994 film Godzilla vs. Space Godzilla, boasts a huge illumination Christmas tree display on its side. Nicknamed the "Lover's Sanctuary" due to its popularity with couples, the heart shaped flower arch and romantic Christmas decorations as well as a scenic view of the sea, would make this a perfect location to visit with a partner. On December 31, you can also get a great view of the New Year countdown at Bayside Place Hakata, avoiding the immense crowds that gather on the floor. Hakata also gives you the opportunity to experience New Year celebrations in true Japanese fashion.
On the morning of January 1, many residents visit Kushida Shrine in the heart of Old Hakata to celebrate the coming of the new year. The shrine is only a short walk away from Hakata Station. January 2 then comes the official First Day of Trade, which many Japanese look forward to as the day of amazing shopping bargains. Canal City Hakata has the most shops in Hakata so is an ideal location to grab some deals- though be prepared for lots of fellow competing shoppers. Otherwise the Hankyu Department Store connected to Hakata Station is another option.
It can be accessed via JR Kyushu (Fukuhoku-Yutaka line, Kagoshima main line or Kyushu Shinkansen) and via JR West (Hakata-Minami Line or Sanyo Shinkansen). Alternatively it can be accessed via the Fukuoka City Subway on the Kuko Line.
Canal City Hakata
Address: 1-2, Sumiyoshi, Hakata-ku, Fukuoka-shi, Fukuoka Telephone: 092-282-2525
Opening times: 10:00 to 21:00 (shops); 11:00 to 23:00 (restaurants)
Address: 2 Chome-3-26 Momochihama, Sawara-ku, Fukuoka-shi, Fukuoka-ken
Telephone: (092) 823-0234
Admission fee: Adult 800yen, Junior High Student 500yen, Under 4s 200yen, Over 65 500yen
Access: Bus from Hakata Transportation Centre No.5 Platform at Hakata Station