I have been living in Fukuoka city now for about a year and I’m slowly learning more about this great city.
One point that many people don’t realise when we talk about population history is how few people used to live in cities. Cities we all know today a mega cities with millions of people but back in the past cities were not as big as they are today.
Firstly, Fukuoka castle used to be the stronghold for the Kuroda lords of Chikuzen province and Hakata was the ancient sea port and merchant town. Modern Fukuoka city was born out of a merger between Fukuoka and Hakata in 1889. The population statistics stated here are for Hakata otherwise stated.
The earliest recorded date I could find was 1150. The population was 9,000.
At this time it was the Heian Period in Japan and the age of the nobles. Hakata port was one of the busiest port towns in Japan.
Very early map of Hakata. Date unknown.
Before I move on, I want to note the significance of the next two dates. 1274 and 1281! Kamakura Period. At this time the Mongols tried to invade Japan twice and failed. The most attacking forces landed in Hakata Bay and along the coastline to the east. The second Mongol army numbered 140,000. Defending samurai only numbered about 40,000. The population of Hakata at that time would have been no more than 20,000. Samurai had to come from the surrounding regions to help repel the attackers. Luckily for the samurai, kamikaze was born!
Map of the Mongol invasion sites in Hakata Bay.
The next date is 1471 and the population climbs to about 50,000. This is during the Muromachi Period and the early stages of the Sengoku Period.
Hakata’s population declines from 1500. 30,000 to just 17,000 in 1570 possibly due to the civil war.
By the end of the Sengoku period Hakata has a population of 50,000. This is the time that Fukuoka castle is built and becomes a castle town. However, the two towns (Fukuoka and Hakata) are still separated and continue to grow independently.
The peaceful Edo period was very prosperous for Chikuzen province and the total population grows to 302,160 for the whole region by 1721. It is thought that Fukuoka had 20,410 and Hakata had 25,677 people living there.
Map of Chikuzen province from 1820.
In 1834 there were 15 registered villages in Chikuzen with a total population of 445,278 residents.
Today, Fukuoka is the 6th most populated city in Japan with 1.5 million residents.
I hope you enjoyed this post.