The shelves at this bar are lined with cylindrical flasks, lit from behind and glowing like stained glass in jewel tones. Bartender and owner Yoshimitsu Obara made every one of the liqueurs on-site himself, by hand. “Inspiration comes from everything I put in my mouth,” says Obara. His creations go beyond the usual fruit-infused liqueurs, to include the likes of wasabi gin, sweet potato bourbon and grilled-corn rum. “Baked- apple brandy is really popular right now,” he says, “but the one that I’m loving is bacon vodka.” With over 60 concoctions to choose from and new ones made all the time, you could drink here every day and never get bored.
Kurume-kasuri is a resist-dyed and woven fabric with a history of at least 200 years. Traditionally worn in rural life to perform farm work, this beautiful, distinctive folk craft is prized for its intricate patterns and durability. “Fabrics like Nishijin silk were made to be worn by nobility, but kurume-kasuri was worn by commoners,” says Kurumi Kiyokawa, the shop’s owner. It’s conventionally made using cotton fibres and dyed with indigo, with hemp threads tied together at intervals to vary the colouring. There are about 400 weavers left in the region. Kiyokawa’s family produced this cloth in Kurume, a city about 30 minutes from Fukuoka, but she noticed that there was no kurume-kasuri shop here. With K Kurume Kasuri, she mixes the traditional craft with modern clothing, offering Western-style shirts, dresses and pants. Each garment is unique and is meant to be worn for 10 or even 20 years.
3. Rec Coffee
From its humble beginnings as a java truck in 2008, Rec Coffee has been bringing Fukuoka along on coffee’s third wave for over a decade. Now with four locations around the city and one outpost in Tokyo, Rec is one of Japan’s major players in the scene, cemented by founder Yoshikazu Iwase’s wins at the Japan Barista Championship and his second-place finish at the World Barista Championship in Dublin in 2016. Rec’s flagship location in Fukuoka’s Yakuin area sees customers happily sipping lattes or espresso shots alongside sweets such as the pear mascarpone tart. Others linger around a tasting station, comparing beans from Ethiopia or Costa Rica, all roasted at Rec’s Kencho Higashi location. Rec’s Yakuin shop manager, Koichi Maruyama, loves exploring the many facets of coffee. “You can have the same bean, the same water temperature and the same prep method, but the flavour is always changing from cup to cup,” he reveals.
Handmade ceramics from Arita in Saga Prefecture, lotus honey from Fukuoka Prefecture and sea salt from Kagoshima Prefecture – these are just a few of the treasures you can find at Local Development Lab, a space dedicated to showcasing the best of the Kyushu region. “Fukuoka is Asia’s gateway to Kyushu,” says Miki Hase, who works in the shop. “I want to use this place to encourage people to visit the rest of Kyushu, not just Fukuoka.” You’ll find handpicked artisanal products – many organic – from small-scale makers around the island. In addition to top-flight souvenirs, the space also hosts events such as cooking lessons, tea-making sessions and chopstick-carving workshops.
This stylish restaurant is housed in a renovated machiya (traditional wooden townhouse) in Fukuoka’s Kego neighbourhood. Here, the chef serves up Italian food with an unusual twist: rather than getting everything from Italy, Kotobuki uses many homegrown Kyushu ingredients for interesting takes on classic dishes. For example, a beef roast might be served with a moromi sauce, the heady, savoury mash used in brewing nishonshu (as the Japanese refer to sake). The courses are accompanied by local sake and shochu (Japan’s distilled liquor). The above roast, for example, might be paired with a classic, rich offering, while something like greens dressed in olive oil would go with something light and modern. Another popular choice is Kotobuki’s original sangria, made with sake instead of wine.
This article was originally published in the March 2019 issue of SilverKris magazine