Kyushu’s capital Fukuoka is known for its excellent, laid-back food culture, vibrant art scene and buzzy nightlife. The Haruyoshi area in particular exemplifies these charms. On streets lined with food stands, or yatai, passersby are encouraged to sample a local bowl of Hakata ramen or some mentaiko pollock roe with a frosty glass of Asahi in hand.

Haruyoshi is immensely walkable; just weave your way through its narrow alleyways and you can’t help but stumble upon some of Fukuoka’s most up-and-coming art spaces, with ample café options for any necessary pit stops. For accommodation, Fukuoka’s two Cross Life hotels — Cross Life Hakata Tenjin and Cross Life Hakata Yanagibashi — both provide comfortable and convenient bases for travelers looking to soak up all the city has to offer.

Day City, Night City

Haruyoshi lies in the heart of the city, consisting of a maze of crisscrossing narrow streets and alleyways. Set on the banks of the Naka River, just a 10-minute walk from the buzzing Tenjin Station, it’s always lively; even on a weeknight, the buzz from teeming izakaya and yatai hangs palpable in the air. Trendy café-cum-bar Dai-Tu invites guests to let their coffee orders turn to wine and spend an evening enjoying local food and music. Foodies will delight in the abundance of eateries, like Itookashi, which serves fresh, locally sourced seafood with flair.

The city’s art scene is also easily accessible. Espresso Stand and Gallery Tag Stå is a laid-back creative space where art can be enjoyed at one’s leisure over a slice of Basque cheesecake. Despite its unassuming entrance, the Ao-Hata Bookstore, specializing in art books and catalogs, brims with art history and ideas, with a considerable portion of the publications written in English. And after a day exploring the city, visitors can enjoy mojitos and martinis at bars like Upsetters to a soundtrack of local DJs.

Stay in Style

Opened in 2022, Fukuoka’s Cross Life hotels have prime locations in the Haruyoshi neighborhood: Cross Life Hakata Tenjin is six minutes from Tenjin-Minami Station on foot, and Cross Life Hakata Yanagibashi a similarly brief stroll from Watanabe Dori Station. Both hotels are bursting with local character, with design flourishes that pay homage to traditional Fukuoka craft and original artwork by local artists displayed all year round. They also offer a variety of accommodation arrangements, including adjoining rooms and loft rooms, for all types of travel styles.

One of the highlights at Cross Life Hakata Tenjin is its large public bath, along with a steam sauna for women and a dry sauna for men. The bath has its own custom digital art display with the theme of “natural healing”; guests can unwind in the soothing waters while enjoying video art of various natural phenomena — a forest, a skyscape, flowing water — slowly changing over time.

Hakata Yanagibashi’s connection with the community is evident in the building’s exterior, which is based on Hakata-ori fabric. On a more literal level, the hotel also has its own café, bar and workspace, the 360° Hub, which is open to travelers and locals alike. Whether you’re looking to do a moment of work, or simply retreat from the bustle of the city over a good book, the space is yours to use as you please. The hotel is also dedicated to showcasing the best of Fukuoka’s cuisine, with a daily breakfast buffet that invites guests to sample local dishes like goboten udon or warming ochazuke.

Fostering Connections

If you want to immerse yourself in the local art scene from the comfort of your hotel, both Cross Life locations in Haruyoshi have you covered. At Cross Life Tenjin Hakata, contemporary artwork by Kyushu natives is on display throughout the building. The walls in the lobby are dominated by a bright, eye-catching mural by Fukuoka-born street artist Ryohei Yamashita, inspired by the city’s famed Hakata Gion Festival, and the prints hanging in the guest rooms are the work of local photographers.

At the entrance of Cross Life Hakata Yanagibashi sits a striking, stately boat sculpture by Akiko Inaba, an artist living in Fukuoka. The hotel also has a special program dedicated to uncovering hidden talents in the region, who are selected to create art that will be displayed in the lobby. Even the floor number signs are works of art: Each one is a piece of custom Koishiwara ware, a traditional Fukuoka craft, hand-made by a different local kiln.

It’s this level of attention to detail that makes the Cross Life hotels a great entry point to the bustling city of Fukuoka, whether you’re visiting for a first time or a seasoned expert in the area. Relax, unwind and absorb some local flavor before heading out into Haruyoshi’s meandering streets to find something new and exciting — be it a new artist, an obscure DJ or your new favorite Japanese dish.

To reserve your stay at Cross Life Hakata Tenjin, click here. To reserve your stay at Cross Life Hakata Yanagibashi, click here

This article appeared in Kyushu Weekender 2024. To read the whole issue, click here