April 2015

Fukuoka’s Regional Produce Shungiku, Amaou Strawberries, and More

If you are living in or visiting Fukuoka be sure to savor the many delicious seasonal produce and learn what traditional Fukuoka dishes feature them.

Fukuoka’s Most Famous Fruit: The Amaou Strawberry

Amaou Strawberries, Amaou being an acronym for amai (sweet), marui (round), okii (big) and umai (delicious), is without a doubt the most popular fruit coming out of Fukuoka. The fruit has become a national sensation and has even begun its exportation overseas. It has been made into Amaou liquor, Amaou jam, and even Amaou KitKats. The popular strawberry is known for its size and sweetness, which also makes it a costly habit averaging a little over $1.00 USD per strawberry (in some cases $9.00 per strawberry).

Since its inception in 2002, Amaou Strawberries have been cultivated in temperature controlled vinyl tents creating high quality strawberries packed with extraordinary nutrition, especially vitamin C. These miracle strawberries contain more vitamin C than oranges and it is said that approximately 7 pieces provide enough vitamin C to satisfy the body’s daily requirement. It is also rich in calcium, potassium, and dietary fiber making the Amaou Strawberry great for your health and beauty.

Fukuoka’s Local Vegetables: Shungiku, Hakata Bannonegi, and Katsuona

Fukuoka is known for its hotpots, especially its local favorites motsunabe and mizutaki. Motsunabe is a low calorie and high nutrition hotpot that consists of beef or pork offal, chili pepper, and vegetables, with a soy sauce or miso base. Mizutaki is a hotpot that uses boned chicken and vegetables to create a thick chicken broth. An essential ingredient for most hotpot dishes, including the renowned motsunabe and mizutaki, is the chrysanthemum green called shungiku. Shungiku is primarily eaten as a leaf vegetable; however, it is also eaten raw in salads, chopped up in soups and sauces, or blanched lightly with a dressing. The Hakata shungiku is arguably one of the tastier chrysanthemum greens.

Spring onions have been an important part of the Japanese food culture for many years. The Hakata bannonegi is a popular spring onion that is cultivated in Fukuoka and exported throughout Japan. It is used as a condiment and garnish, and as an ingredient for hotpots. The bannonegi literally means “all-purpose negi,” meaning everything from the green to the white is used. This makes it unique from the other negi grown and sold throughout Japan, which usually only use one or the other.

Katsuona, also called “New Year’s leaf” because it is eaten on New Year’s Day with pieces of yellowtail and used as an essential ingredient for the traditional New Year’s Day soup called Zouni, is a mustard green with large-sized leaves. The great thing about this particular mustard green is that it has excellent nutritional value without the pungency of your typical mustard greens. Katsuona is unique to Fukuoka and is not grown in any other prefecture throughout Japan.

Restaurants featuring Fukuoka’s Seasonal Produce

Natural Food Store Farm is a two for one special. You can visit this store to purchase locally grown produce on the first floor and eat lunch made from the same produce on the second floor. The store’s architecture makes it a difficult one to miss.

The A-shaped construction of Natural Food Store Farm makes it stick out like a green thumb amongst the more typical Japanese real estate. The “Farm” is known for its health-conscious approach providing additive-free ingredients and organic vegetables from not only Fukuoka, but neighboring prefectures like Saga and Kumamoto as well. There is also an English menu for those that have not mastered the Japanese language yet. Located in Chuo Ward a few blocks from Maizuru Park makes this store/restaurant a convenient and healthy place to shop and eat.

Another restaurant that incorporates not only Fukuoka’s produce and specialty dishes, but also those of the neighboring prefectures is Kyushunoshun Hakataro. In contrast to Natural Food Store Farm, this restaurant is more of your typical mid-scale take your significant other out for dinner type of places – this also reflects clearly in the prices. At Kyushunoshun Hakataro you get to taste a little bit of all of Kyushu. The menu has a variety of items such as the popular Hakata Offal Hotpot, Hakata Mentai Omelet, Oita Specialty Chicken Tempura, and Live Squid Sashimi. Yes, live squid means just that – live squid. Kyushunoshun Hakataro is only a 5-minute walk from Tenjin Subway Station located on the 5th floor of the South Side Terrace Building.


If you are interested in eating local foods while looking over the city lights of Fukuoka then the Hilton Fukuoka Sea Hawk Hotel might be the destination for you. Many of the restaurants on the 34th and 35th floor of the Hilton Fukuoka Sea Hawk Hotel use locally grown produce and offer seasonal dishes from Fukuoka. Two restaurants in particular that boasts of using locally grown ingredients are Clouds Sky Lounge and Bar and Seala Brasserie and Lounge. Clouds Sky Lounge and Bar has a limited menu with selected dishes incorporating locally sourced ingredients. There is also a large selection of sake, wine, shochu, and cocktail menus to compliment your meal. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on how you look at it, after 6:00 pm the restaurant is off limits to anyone under 20 years of age.

Seala Brasserie and Lounge provides a wide-open and spacious dining experience with a fresh buffet or al-la-carte menu. Whether you go for the buffet or choose from their menu, Seala Brasserie showcases international and local cuisine, while using only the freshest ingredients from Fukuoka and other prefectures of Japan. Unlike Clouds Sky Lounge and Bar that is located on 35th floor of the hotel, Seala Brasserie is located on the ground level. However, do not let that discourage you from taking advantage of the fantastic view of Hakata Bay and Momochi Seaside Park under the 40-meter high glass ceiling. It also has a lounge bar with a wide variety of international wines and tapas. Seala Brasserie and Lounge offers breakfast, lunch and dinner, with a variety of Japanese and international cuisines including Korean, European, and more.

Comparing the Cost of Living in Japan’s Top 5 Cities to Study

The Cost of Living in Japan vs. The World

As it is with the rest of the world, all things remaining equal, the cost of living drastically increases as you move closer to the center of the city. It is also safe to say it is possible to live in an expensive city so long as you are willing to sacrifice a comfortable living and lavish lifestyle. This is a trend that we can safely say exists not only in Japan, but also in the United States, United Kingdom, France, China, and so on. According to Numbeo, a website that crowdsources the prices of consumer goods across the globe, Japan ranked as the 19th most expensive country in the world for the year 2014. Japan ranked less expensive than countries like United Kingdom, Australia, France, Singapore, and Norway, but was more expensive than countries like United States, Canada, Hong Kong, South Korea, and Spain. Continue reading