Business and life in balance | Content | Monocle

Fukuoka City X Monocle

Business and life in balance



Business and life in balance

Fukuoka is an old city with a young outlook. The Japanese metropolis of 1.6 million offers great transport links around Asia and a welcoming environment for start-ups and corporations. Changes to building-height restrictions have spurred a rethink of the cbd – dubbed “the Tenjin Big Bang”. Old buildings are being replaced with new. Among them is Tenjin Business Centre, designed by Fukuoka-born Shohei Shigematsu of oma architects.

Open for Business

For the past three years, Fukuoka has been Japan’s top city for new business openings, ahead of Nagoya and Tokyo.

Based in a former school building in Tenjin, start-up hub Fukuoka Growth Next supports new businesses with workspaces, training and advice. The Ritz Carlton will open nextdoor in 2023.

easy access

A survey of 48 major global cities ranked Fukuoka at first place in terms of the city’s proximity to its main airport. It takes just five minutes by subway from Hakata Station or 10 minutes from Tenjin.

Fukuoka has the highest rate of population growth among Japan’s cities and came top in a ranking of cities that people in Japan want to live and work in.

Old Hakata

Fukuoka is a city with a rich cultural history. Today young talents are breathing new life into old crafts. In Gokusho-machi, Keisuke Obata is reviving Hakozaki Shima, a cotton textile historically made in the city. Having mastered hand-weaving techniques, the designer, who teaches fashion at Koran Women’s Junior College, is working with factories to produce modern pieces that play on tradition.

The Hakata ningyo (“Hakata doll”) is a 400-year-old regional craft. Fourth-generation doll-maker Hiromine Nakamura uses witty, contemporary motifs such as athletes and construction workers to broaden the appeal of the unglazed clay dolls. His works are exhibited in museums across the country and are attracting offers of collaboration. “I’m trying new things to preserve traditional culture,” says the 35-year-old Nakamura.


living history

Hakata Gion Yamakasa: Every July, men from seven districts carry floats across the city bearing decorative dolls for the Hakata Gion Yamakasa, one of Japan’s largest festivals. The tradition has been kept alive for some 780 years.

Maison Hakoshima:Mai Hayashi’s small shop and café in historic Gokusho-machi sells textiles and clothes designed by Keisuke Obata, using traditional Hakozaki Shima fabrics.

Temple town:The green, tranquil Gokusho-machi neighbourhood is home to historic temples including Shofukuji, Japan’s first Zen temple, founded in 1195, and Jotenji, where udon and soba are said to have originated.


With easy access to beaches, mountains and plenty of green space, Fukuoka offers city dwellers a slower pace of life. Daisuke Noda, who owns touring-bike shop Platform, takes full advantage. “Fukuoka is a compact city,” he says. He loves to cycle around the city but goes further afield too. “Fukuoka is also a great base for exploring Kyushu on a bike,” he says. “I take my bike on a ferry to Shikanoshima Island and tour around.”

Ohori Park, in the city centre, is popular with runners. Among them is Daigo Shimizu, who leads local running club Athletic Far East. “In a 10km run we can take in urban scenery, mountains and the sea,” he says. “We often find interesting spots such as new buildings and shrines.” For Shimizu, jogging is like taking the pulse of his home city. “You can live and work at your own pace in Fukuoka.”


body and soul

Cycle Train:Railway company Nishitetsu recently launched the Cycle Train service, which allows passengers to take bicycles onto carriages without the need to fold them away. The line runs from Tenjin to Omuta.

Yoga & Good Life Fukuoka:Relax your mind and body with Yoga & Good Life Fukuoka, which organises yoga events across the city at locations including Ohori Park, the Kunio Maekawa-designed Fukuoka Art Museum, temples and the beach.

Seaside Momochi beach: Momochihama beach is a 15-minute bike ride from Ohori Park. Come here for beach volleyball, stand-up paddleboarding and windsurfing.


Fukuoka’s residents are spoilt for choice when it comes to shopping, eating and drinking. Round Counter is one of the newest independent additions to the coffee scene. Owner Kotaro Kubo, a former pattern-cutter in the fashion industry, and his staff serve delicious coffee and light meals. In a sewing workshop at the back of the café, Kubo makes bags, coasters and aprons that are for sale.

In a quiet alley in the bustling Imaizumi area is Como Es, a music bar and café run by Fukuoka native DJ Yosuke Nishida. Regulars come to enjoy food and drink with a vinyl soundtrack (from a selection of 4,000 albums), as well as art exhibitions, film screenings and live music performances. “I’ve lived in Tokyo and travelled around the world,” says Nishida. “Those experiences made me realise the charm and potential of Fukuoka.”


scene stealers

Hightide Store: The popular stationery and homeware shop Hightide Store has two branches in the city, including one at the airport, as well as outlets in Tokyo, Los Angeles and Brooklyn.

Directors:Go Fujito founded menswear label Fujito in 2002 and has since taken his collections to global markets including London, Paris and New York. The label’s shop, Directors, in the Sakurazaka area is well worth a visit.

Art Fair Asia Fukuoka: Fukuoka has a maturing art scene and the city is supporting this growing annual event, which invites galleries from Japan and Asia to showcase artworks across the city.


sign in to monocle

new to monocle?

Subscriptions start from £120.

Subscribe now





Monocle Radio

00:00 01:00