Gateway to Kyushu, Fukuoka lies on the northern shore of the island and is a thriving port; an age-old legacy that has been carried forward to the present. It is Kyushu's largest city and one of Japan's most populous, yet Fukuoka welcomes visitors with the warmth of a small town. A merger between Hakata on the east bank of the Naka-gawa and the old castle town to its west, the modern-day city of Fukuoka came into being in 1889. Together, these two towns bear witness to over 2,000 years of history. Today, the city bridges the gap between the past and present, its contemporary quarter a glimmering vision of modernity, while historic sites like Shofukuji Temple, the Fukuoka Castle ruins and the Kushida Shrine still preserve Fukuoka's heritage. Other popular attractions include the Uminonakamichi Park, the City Museum and the Asian Art Museum, while the Tenjin Underground City and Canal City are the top choices for shopping. Its restaurants and food stalls have much to offer gourmets as well, serving seafood aplenty and the native-style of ramen. A city of pleasing contrasts, Fukuoka encapsulates the urban side of Kyushu.
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