Japanese Cities Morioka and Fukuoka Listed Among 52 Places to Go in 2023

The 2023 list of 52 Places to Go, released by The New York Times, included two cities in Japan, which are Morioka, the capital city of Iwate Prefecture, and Fukuoka, the capital city of Fukuoka Prefecture. 

Morioka, described as a “a walkable gem without the crowds,” is renowned for its early 20th century architecture that combines Western and traditional Japanese aesthetics, built during the Taisho era (1912-1926). One of the main attractions of Morioka is the Morioka Castle Ruins Park, which is built upon the ruins of an ancient castle and was chosen as Top 100 City Parks in Japan in 1989. 

Accessible from Tokyo by shinkansen (high speed train), Morioka came in second place in the list of 52 places, just below London, which took top spot. The New York Times highlighted the Iwate Prefecture specialty food, wanko soba, which are buckwheat noodles served in small portions which are continuously served up until diners have had their fill. 

Meanwhile, taking up the nineteenth spot in the list is Fukuoka, the largest city in Kyushu, Japan. This port city is located on the southwestern island of Kyushu and is noted as one of the few remaining cities to retain the yatai culture, which are open-air street-food stalls which serve a variety of food, ranging from ramen and yakitori (chicken skewers) to coffee and wine. Nakasu Island in central Fukuoka is where many yatai can be found. 

Internationally recognized for its food culture, Fukuoka is also the birthplace of mentaiko (cured pollock roe) and tonkotsu ramen. From Malaysia, Fukuoka is accessible by domestic flight via Haneda or Kansai (Osaka) international airports. 

The Japanese Ambassador to Malaysia, His Excellency Takahashi Katsuhiko, whose hometown Morioka was listed, showed his delight, saying, “I am pleased that my hometown was selected in the list along with Fukuoka. Morioka abounds with hidden gems besides what the New York Times describes. I sincerely hope that many tourists will visit and enjoy the city.”

Executive Director of Japan National Tourism Organization Kuala Lumpur, Fumi Matsumoto, shared that, “Since Japan’s relaxation of border control measures, many foreign tourists are flocking to places such as Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and Hokkaido, however, vibrant cities like Morioka and Fukuoka still retain plenty of charm for Malaysians to discover.”

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