The Port of Hakata is a new port at Fukuoka City on the southwestern coast of Japan on Kyushu Island about 54 kilometers southwest of the Port of Kita-Kyushu and 105 kilometers southwest of the Port of Nagasaki. In 2005, over 1.4 million people lived in the Port of Hakata.
The Port of Hakata is both an ancient and a modern port. In addition to handling cargo, the Port of Hakata is an active fishing port where halibut and flounder are the major catches. Because it is convenient to Hakata Station and Fukuoka Airport, many business people stay in the Port of Hakata. A subsidiary of All Nippon Airways, Air Next (Japanese) is headquartered in the Port of Hakata.
The Port of Hakata's natural harbor has long been a central point in trade with China. The Port of Hakata is closer to Seoul, Korea, than it is to Tokyo. It was the landing point for the Mongol invasion of Japan in the 12th Century. Today's Fukuoka City was formed in 1889 when the port city of Hakata and the castle town of Fukuoka were merged. Hakata is still the name of the city's central district.
The Port of Hakata is a ward in Fukuoka City. It was an independent city where many merchants lived. From the Heian period (late 8th Century to late 12th Century) until the Azuchi-Momoyama period (16th Century), the Port of Hakata's merchants had trade relationships with other overseas merchants in China, Korea, and other Asian countries. It is said that Heian general Taira no Kiyomori built the artificial harbor at the Port of Hakata. The ancient Port of Hakata was put to fire in many wars and by invading Mongols in the 13th Century.
In the Edo period from the early 17th Century to the middle 19th Century, samurai vassals of the Chikuzen Province's lord lived on the Naka River shore opposite the Port of Hakata. When the lord had the Fukuoka Castle built, the castle town of Fukuoka began to grow.
In 1889, during the Meiji period, the Port of Hakata merged with Fukuoka, and the combined city received the latter name, even though more people lived in the Port of Hakata than in Fukuoka. Hakata Station was built about this time to connect the cities by rail to other cities in Kyushu.
Fukuoka City was granted designation stations in 1972, and the old Port of Hakata area was named Hakata-ku.
The Port of Hakata was a long-time center for the fabrication of traditional Japanese dolls, called Hakata ningyo, which are popular everywhere in Japan. Hakata ori, a textile traditionally used for the sash for kimonos, is now used for dresses and bags as well.
The Port of Hakata is also home to Mentai Rock which created several Japanese pop idols during the 1980s. The name comes from a popular regional disk, mentaiko. Today, local musicians call their creations Neo-Mentai Rock.