|Old Meets New
Kyushu is a place where fine aspects of the past live quite happily in the present. The Japanese have a great love for festivals, and some of the most famous festivals in the country take place in Kyushu. Notable among them is the exuberant Hakata Dontaku, which dates back over 800 years and sees the whole of Fukuoka join in the street party fun of its parades; there is the Dai Himonjiyaki fire festival on volcanic Mt. Aso, in which part of a mountainside is set
ablaze in the form of a giant Chinese character; there is the spectacular 400-year-old Karatsu Kunchi Festival in Saga, where the gigantic festival floats are hauled along the beach to the festive sound of flutes and drums.
But there is of course far more to Kyushu than its older culture. Kyushu is also home to the thoroughly energetic city of Fukuoka – a place distinguished by its superb modern architecture, tremendous vitality and vibrant nightlife. Fukuoka is Japan’s seventh-largest metropolis and it is one of the country’s most cosmopolitan and internationalized urban areas. Having the rest of Asia on its doorstep, Fukuoka is very keen to encourage global exchange and use its position as the major cultural center and international gateway in southwest Japan.
This strikingly modern city has the atmosphere of Tokyo or Osaka though it achieves this with much more manageable proportions, and Fukuoka has an attractive foreign flavor. In recent years, Fukuoka has carved out a name for itself as a hub for contemporary world-class architecture. The city is now one of the best places in the world to view works by outstanding architects side by side. But as well, with its easy proximity to both the sea and the mountains, Fukuoka is a green, spacious and very safe city. In addition, Fukuoka and other parts of Kyushu have the advantage of not being as prone to the earthquakes that strike other parts of Japan.