Fukuoka (福岡市 Fukuoka-shi, Japanese: [ɸɯ̥kɯꜜoka]) is the capital city of Fukuoka Prefecture, situated on the northern shore of Japanese island Kyushu. It is the most populous city on the island, followed by Kitakyushu. It is the largest city and metropolitan area west of Keihanshin. The city was designated on April 1, 1972, by government ordinance. Greater Fukuoka, with a population of 2.5 million people (2005 census), is part of the heavily industrialized Fukuoka–Kitakyushu zone as well as Northern Kyushu.
As of 2015, Fukuoka is Japan’s sixth largest city, having passed the population of Kobe. As of July 2011, Fukuoka passed the population of Kyoto. Since the founding of Kyoto in 794, this marks the first time that a city west of the Kinki region has a larger population than Kyoto. In ancient times, however, the area near Fukuoka, the Chikushi region, was thought by some historians to have possibly been even more influential than the Yamato region.
Fukuoka was sometimes called the Port of Dazaifu (大宰府, 15 km (9 mi) southeast from Fukuoka). Dazaifu was an administrative capital in 663 A.D., but a historian proposed that a prehistoric capital was in the area. Ancient texts, such as the Kojiki, Kanyen (found in Dazaifu) and archaeology confirm this was a very critical place in the founding of Japan. Some scholars claim that it was the first place outsiders and the Imperial Family set foot, but like many early Japan origin theories, it remains contested. Fukuoka is sometimes still referred to as Hakata, the central ward of the city.
In 923, the Hakozaki-gū in Fukuoka was transferred from Daibu-gū in Daibu (大分, 16 km (10 mi) northeast from Dazaifu) the origin of Usa Shrine and established as a branch of the Usa Shrine at Fukuoka. In Ooho (大保, 15 km (9 mi) south from Dazaifu), there are remains of a big ward office with a temple, because in ancient East Asia, an emperor must have three great ministries (大宰, 大傳 and 大保). In fact, there is a record in Chinese literature that a king of Japan sent a letter in 478 to ask the Chinese emperor's approval for employing three ministries. In addition, remains of the Korokan (鴻臚館, Government Guest House) were found in Fukuoka underneath a part of the ruins of Fukuoka Castle.
Fukuoka has a humid subtropical climate (Köppen: Cfa) and it has hot humid summers and relatively mild winters. The city also sees on average about 1,600 mm (63 in) of precipitation per year, with a stretch of more intense precipitation between the months of June and September. Along with much of the prefecture, Fukuoka City has a moderate climate with an annual average temperature of 16.3 °C (61 °F), average humidity of 70% and 1,811 annual daylight hours. Roughly 40% of the year is cloudy.
Winter temperatures rarely drop below 0 °C (32 °F) and it rarely snows, though light rain does fall on most days if not as consistently as on the Sea of Japan side of Honshu. Spring is warm and sunnier, with cherry blossoms appearing in late March or early April. The rainy season (tsuyu) lasts for approximately six weeks through June and July, during which time the humidity is very high and temperatures hover between 25 °C (77 °F) and 30 °C (86 °F). Summers are humid and hot, with temperatures peaking around 37 °C (99 °F). Autumn, often considered to be Fukuoka's best season, is mild and dry, though the typhoon season runs between August and September.
Sky Dream Fukuoka, located in Fukuoka City's western ward, was one of the world's largest Ferris wheels at a height of 120 meters. It was closed on September 2009. Fukuoka Castle located adjacent to Ohori Park in Maizuru Park features the remaining stone walls and ramparts left after a devastating fire during the upheaval of the Meiji Restoration. It has now been preserved along with some reconstructed prefabricate concrete towers constructed during the 1950s and 1960s, when there was a trend across Japan to rebuild damaged castles as tourist attractions. Ōhori Park is also the location of one of Fukuoka City's major art galleries. There is a newly opened Kyushu National Museum in nearby Dazaifu.
The Marine Park Uminonakamichi is located on a narrow cape on the northern side of the Bay of Hakata. The park has an amusement park, petting zoo, gardens, beaches, a hotel, and a large marine aquarium which opened in 1989. For tourists from other parts of Japan, local foods such as mentaiko, Hakata ramen and motsunabe are associated with Fukuoka. Yatai (street stalls) serving ramen can be found in Tenjin and Nakasu most evenings. Fukuoka Tower is near the beach in Momochi.
Itoshima, which can be found to the west of Fukuoka city, has recently become a very popular tourist destination. There are many beaches along the coast, notably Futamigaura beach, where there is a famous Shinto shrine in the ocean, and Keya beach, which hosts the annual Sunset Live festival every September. Inland, there is the Shingon Buddhist temple called Raizan Sennyoji, where there are many Buddhist statues and stunning autumn foliage.
Fukuoka Prefecture faces the sea on three sides, bordering Saga, Ōita, and Kumamoto prefectures and facing Yamaguchi Prefecture across the Kanmon Straits.
As of 1 April 2012, 18% of the land area of the prefecture was designated as natural parks: Setonaikai National Park, Genkai, Kitakyūshū, and Yaba-Hita-Hikosan quasi-national parks, and Chikugogawa, Chikuhō, Dazaifu, Sefuri Raizan, and Yabegawa Prefectural Natural Parks.
Fukuoka includes the two largest cities on Kyūshū, Fukuoka and Kitakyushu, and much of Kyūshū's industry. It also includes a number of small islands near the north coast of Kyūshū.