There’s so much to see and do in Japan. The popular sights in Tokyo and Kyoto are great, but there is so much more to Japan. “Off The Beaten Path” is a new series of posts where we will explore some of the lesser known yet amazing places to experience in Japan.
Nakasu at Night
Fukuoka in the Southern Island of Japan on Kyushu
First stop is Nakasu (中洲). Nakasu literally means “island in the middle” and is situated on a small island between the two rivers of Naka and Hakata in the city of Fukuoka. While Nakasu is the largest red light district in western Japan, it is also a foodie mecca and home to a number of amazing boutique restaurants and the famous “Yatai” (屋台) or outdoor night food stalls.
Back Alley of Nakasu Peppered with Small Restaurants/Bars
Food Stalls Along the River
There are currently over 150 yatai scattered throughout the area, with some of the best located on the southern end of the island along the river. The yatai serve many different types of Japanese bar food such as yakitori, ramen, gyoza, and oden (hot pot). It’s great to hop from yatai to yatai grabbing a few drinks and dishes at each one and trying all the different stands out.
Nakasu was developed in the 1600s to serve as an entertainment area for the samurai in the western Fukuoka and the merchants in the eastern Fukoka (Hakata). More recently, it has served a launch pad for important cultural movements, such as the rise of the modern theater, literature, and art.
View of Nakasu from Boat
Many people from different walks of life still gather in Nakasu, and the tiny island is populated with over 4,000 restaurant and bars. While Nakasu traditionally only came alive at night, recent developments of shopping malls, museums, and parks have made it lively daytime hotspot as well.
Food Stall Selling Yakitori and Oden
Food Vendor Making Tea and Yakitori
Check out other amazing off the beaten path travel spots in Japan:
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Nagano is not often spoken of as a primary tourist destination in Japan. But a couple of notable claims-to-fame make Nagano a very interesting place to visit indeed.