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Kurume-shi

Kurume Area

At a glance

A bustling city including Mizuma-machi, Tanushimaru-machi, Jojima-machi, Kitano-machi, and Kurume-shi, Kurume is the hub of the Chikugo Area. Formerly a castle town, it is now known as the hometown of Bridgestone tires, the birthplace of tonkotsu ramen, and host to the largest summer hanabi festival in western Japan.

Festivals

Tamataregu Shrine’s Oniyo Fire Matsuri – January 7th

Sakagura Matsuri – February 11th

Setsubun Matsuri – Early February

Chikugo River Rapé Blossom Matsuri – Last Sunday of March

Kurume Tsutsuji Matsuri – April 5th-May 5th

Suitengu Grand Spring Matsuri – May 5th-7th

Kurume Water Matsuri – August 3rd-5th

Suitengu Grand Summer Matsuri – August 5th-7th

Chikugo River Hanabi Matsuri – Early August

Yakitori Matsuri – September 4th

Kusano Furuyu Matsuri – Second Weekend of September

Getting There

By train: Take the Nishitetsu Tenjin Omuta line to Kurume or Hanabatake stations, the JR Kagoshima line 2, or the JR Kyudai line to Kurume or Minami-Kurume stations

By car: Use the N-S Highway (Kurume exit), Routes 3, 210, 209, and 322

Points of Interest

Bairinji Temple Visit the largest zen training temple in Kyushu. In the outer garden, 500 plum trees bloom from late February to early March. From JR Kurume Station, turn left from the central exit and go straight across the Bairinji Pedestrian Bridge. 209 Kyo-machi • 0942-32-2565

Fukuoka Science Museum focuses on the cosmos but also has displays about computers and the environment. There is a planetarium, and on sunny Saturdays you can use the telescope to see sunspots and Venus.

getting there…
Take Nishitetsu Bus #23 or any bus bound for Youme Town and get off at Seishonenkagakukan-mae. 1713 Higashikushihara-machi. Open 9:30am-4:30pm Tue-Fri, 9:30am-5pm on Sun, holidays and 2nd & 4th Sat of the month; closed Mon & last Tues of the month • 0942-37-5566 • http://www.science.pref.fukuoka.jp

Ishibashi Cultural Center, established by Bridgestone money (ishi means stone and hashi means bridge), is comprised of the Ishibashi Art Museum, the Kurume Central Library, and the Ishibashi Cultural Hall. A park at the rear of the complex winds between the three buildings, where you can make your way to the lovely fountain and flower garden for a rest.

getting there…
Nishitetsu buses #1, 7, 9, 20, 25, 40 and 45 stop at Bunkasenta-mae, right in front of the cultural center. 1015 Nonaka-machi. 0942-39-1131 • http://www.ishibashi-bunka.jp/

Ishibashi Art Museum beautifully reveals the Western influence on Japanese art. The permanent collection holds paintings by the leading Japanese artists Shigeru Aoki and Hanjiro Sakamoto, Chinese and Japanese calligraphy, lacquer-ware, ceramics, and glass. Seasonally rotating exhibits frequently feature local artists. 10am-5pm (last entry 4:30); closed Mon, holidays, & one week between special exhibitions • 0942-39-1131 • http://www.ishibashi-museum.gr.jp/e/index.html

Kurume Central Library flanks the Ishibashi Art Museum’s to the east and has a good selection of international literature and a few English language magazines. The library screens classic English and other foreign language films (subtitled in Japanese) every first and second Sunday of the month at 2pm. 10am-6pm, until 8pm every Thursday (except for the fourth Thursday of the month); closed Mon. 0942-38-7116 • http://www.library-city.kurume.fukuoka.jp/

Ishibashi Cultural Hall primarily hosts regional musical festivals, traditional dance performances and competitions between schools in the region, but also presents professional-level fare from orchestras on the Japan-leg of their world tours. 0942-33-2271 • http://www.ishibashi-bunka.jp/

Korasan Mountain shines when 62,000 azaleas bloom from April to May in the Azalea Forest Park. From the ridge, there is a full view of the Chikugo Plains. There are also man-made mountain trails and camping sites dotted along the mountain. Kora Taisha Shrine, dedicated to the God of longevity, is on the west peak and is the highest-ranking shrine in the Chikugo region.

getting there…
By car, take Route 332 towards Hita and veer onto Route 800. The entrance is on your left.

Kurume Castle Ruins are the remains of 16th century Sasayama castle. Examine the foundations, castle walls, stonewalls and the inner moat before heading to Sasayama Shrine and Arima Memorial Museum, also located on this site.

getting there…
About a fifteen-minute walk from JR Kurume Station, or catch Nishitetsu bus #6, 8, or 52 to Daigaku-byoinmae and cross the street.

Kurume City Hall, or the shiyakusho, is the high-rise, futuristic white edifice that improves the city’s boxy and utilitarian skyline. You can see how it earned its nickname—“The Star Trek Building”. After making a withdrawal at the Fukuoka Bank branch in the basement, visit the cafe at the top floor and take in an eagle-eye view of the entire city in comfort. It has free Internet stations available upstairs on the mezzanine level.

getting there…
To get there, walk straight down Showa-dori from JR Kurume Station and turn left at the City Hall East intersection, or take any bus bound for Kurume-shiyakushomae.

Kurume Civic Hall sits north of City Hall and is the city’s other main cultural venue along with the Ishibashi Cultural Center. Programs range from lectures and concerts to full-dress traditional Japanese theater. While the building is architecturally frumpy next to its tall and lean neighbor, the hall’s interior and lobby is a model of modernity. You’ll find it one block north of the shiyakusho.

Kusano-machi quietly sits at the base of the Min? mountain range. Survivors of WWII bombing raids and intensive urban development, Kusano-machi houses Kurume’s oldest buildings, many of which are mapped on walking tour signs that pepper the neighborhood and are open for public tours in the fall. Hasshin Park, famous for its sakura orchard and 100-year old wild cherry tree, rests on the remains of Kusano Castle.

getting there…
By train, take the JR Kyudai line to Chikugo-Kusano Station.

Narita San Temple, towering above Kurume, is the white, 62 meter high Jibo Kannon (Goddess of Mercy) Statue. You can climb up the steps in the statue to catch a view of Kurume and even Mt. Unzen. Here, victims of illness or misfortune may pass their discomfort onto the deified Buddha and pray for her blessings. After descending from the statue, there is an art gallery with pieces from all over Asia and a not-to-be-missed animatronic exhibit of Buddhist hell. Be sure to check out the tire Godzilla at the nearby pre-school.

getting there…
By car it’s on the left heading towards Yame on Route 3. By bus, from Nishitetsu Kurume or Hanabatake Stations take bus #30 or 31 to Kamitsu-machi. 9am-5pm • 0942-21-7500 • http://www.kurume-naritasan.or.jp

Rokkakudo Square hosts various events such as ramen festivals, flea markets, hip-hop dance shows, and baseball game broadcasts. It also sponsors various international events to promote friendship between Japanese and foreigners. Next to Izutsuya Department Store, it has several restaurants on three floors and is located on the Nibangai in Mutsumon-machi.

Tera-machi Streets Once the defending streets of Kurume Castle, this area now contains 17 temples. Also here are the graves of prominent locals such as Hikokuro Takayama, a loyal patriot; Den Inoue, founder of the Kurume cotton textiles; and Harue Koga, an artist. Henshoin Temple in this area has a tea ceremony room in a garden.

getting there…
About a ten-minute walk from Nishitetsu Kurume Station, head north on Route 3 and turn left at Torimachi 10-chome.

Yanagisaka Sone Wax Tree Avenue is a prefectural natural asset of two hundred wax trees leading to Eishoji temple. Dedicated to the healing Buddha, Eishoji was established in 680 AD. At the end of November, the wax trees’ leaves turn deep red, but it’s a beautiful place to visit any time of year.

getting there…
By bus from Nishitetsu Kurume Station, take #25 to Yanagizaka or #20 or 23 to Tsuyukawa or by car head on Route 210 towards Hita. Yamamotomachi-Toyoda. 0942-47-4410

Tanushimaru JR Station offers a local history museum as well as free maps of events to see and walking tours that include visiting sake breweries and onsen. You can borrow bikes for free from the tourist association.

getting there…
By car, heading east on Route 210, take the third right at Higashi-machi after passing Route 33 on the left. The station will be in front of you. Hours vary • 0943-72-4956

Kyoho Winery in Tanushimaru has a tasting room with wines from the region and benitome, their famous shochu. Pick up a walking map at JR Tanushimaru Station to find the grounds, which feature a wine cellar and a lush park. Join in on the grape crushing during the New Wine Festival in the first week of September.

getting there…
By car, turn right at Tanushimaru Station. Turn left to cross the railroad tracks, pass the hospital, and head straight into the mountains. At the second stoplight, turn left, and in about five minutes, the winery will be on your right. 246-1 Masunoda. 9am-5pm • 0943-72-2483 • http://15.ocn.ne.jp/~kyoho/winery.html

Benitome Brewery, located near the Kyoho Winery, is a famous shochu brewery with dozens of shochu varieties to sample, most made from sesame seeds.

getting there…
Follow the directions for the Kyoho Winery. 732 Tanushimaru. 10am-5pm, closed Christmas and New Year’s • 0943-72-3939 • http://www.benitome.co.jp

Jojima Town Hall offers maps of the town’s sake factories. During Sakagura Matsuri, stop here first and then head to the factories for your sampling pleasure.

getting there…
Bus #15 from Nishitetsu Daizenji Station or JR Kurume Jojima Shin-machi Station stops at Jojimamachi-Yakubamae at the intersection of Routes 701 and 83. 743-2 Naratsu. 0942-62-2111

Holzmarkt in Jojima-machi is dedicated to all things wood-related. Divided into different sections including a store dedicated to woodcrafts, toys, and furniture, it also offers woodworking and whittling classes. At the end of April and November, Holtzmarkt holds a wood festival.

getting there…
From the back of Hasta La Vista Supermarket on Route 710, head towards the river. Turn right and then right again at the first slope. Look for the log cabins. 1113-7 Naratsu. 10am-6pm; weekends and holidays until 6:30pm; closed Wed • 0942-62-3355 • http://www.holtzmarkt.co.jp

Aoki no Yu is a relaxing natural sulfur onsen located in the middle of the rice fields. Foul odor aside, the water is renowned for its healing properties and skin benefits.

getting there…
By car, from Jojima Town Hall go west on Route 701, then take a left on Route 702. Take a left at the Takatsu stoplight, just after the junior high, and another left at the next light onto Route 711. 366-1 Ueaoki. 10am-10pm; closed Wed • 0942-62-1426

Jojima Planetarium and Community Center allows visitors to explore the wonders of the night sky for free or take part in hula, tai chi, cooking, pottery, and other classes. Sky viewing is every Saturday from 7-8:30pm.

getting there…
From Jojima Town Hall, follow Route 133 to the north. Before the ramp that leads you to the river, veer right. Take a right at the stop sign. 293 Hama. 0942-62-6226

Eating and Drinking

cafes

Chez Sagara has more variety than the chain bakeries and uses local produce. Make sure you try the dried tomato and eggplant mini-pizzas, cranberry bread, and their grape and kiwi jam.

getting there…

From JR Tanushimaru Station, head towards the hospital and turn left. It is just past the hospital on your left-hand side. 873-12 Masunoda. 8am-6:30pm; closed Tues & 2nd Wed of the month • 0943-73-3680 • http://www.chez-sagara.com • Veg • ¥

Juran gives new meaning to the term “family owned.” The owner’s family made everything inside, from the woodcarvings to the fantastic jams and pies (apple, strawberry, blueberry, and kiwi, to name a few). It is a great place for teatime, especially in the fall.

getting there…

To get there, take a bus from JR Tanushimaru station to Kami Tanushimaru. Then head south and turn left at the T-intersection, and Juran will be on your left. Ishigaki. 8am-6pm; closed Tue • 0943-72-4528 • Veg • ¥¥

Grand Chef features the sugary creations of a European-trained patisserie owner who won the “TV Champion” crown on a popular Japanese TV trivia show. Give the shop’s tiramisu as a present to your supervisor and you’re sure to score big points.

getting there…

Find it just north of Nishitetsu Shikenjo-mae station, across from the McDonald’s by Saint Maria’s Hospital on Route 209. 1154-1 Uemitsu. 9am-9pm • 0942-32-3295 • Veg • ¥

La Paix has fresh baked croissants and fabulous chocolate mousse.

getting there…

To get there from Route 710 in Jojima, take a right at the Nakamichi light by the post office. La Paix is on your left-hand side in a yellow building. 28-2 Jojima. 9:30am-7:30pm • 0942-62-1321 • Veg • ¥

Oily’s Cafe has great coffee drinks and teas, hip music, free internet access, a pool table, a full bar and food menu, and the occasional “live show” in a modern, spacious atmosphere. Enjoy a film or watch a soccer match on their big screen and try the Rikkyu, a frozen green tea treat. The staff is more than happy to talk to foreigners.

getting there…
Right behind Nishitetsu Kurume Station, look for the sign with a rose and the large chalkboard out front. 34-1 Tenjin-machi 34-1. 11am-12am, LO 11pm • 0942-33-1469 • http://www.oilys-cafe.com• Eng • ¥

Tsuki no Niwa Cafe and Gallery is a converted Edo period home located in quiet Kusano-machi that is a welcoming respite from modern life. Visit in the spring to enjoy its view of pastoral Japan and their tea and cakes. 471-1 Kusano-machi. 10am-6pm • 0942-47-3355 • ¥¥

restaurants

Big Up! Kurume is a tiny sit-down takoyaki and yakitori place at the end of the Ichibangai. It’s run by the energetic Shinji, who loves to talk to foreigners and will sometimes give you a discount in exchange for an impromptu English lesson. Try the salty shio-aji takoyaki with a bottle of beer and you won’t be disappointed.

getting there…
Look for the large red lantern and the green sign just before the crosswalk to the Nibangai. 26-1 Hiyoshi-machi. 12pm-close • 0942-35-2777 • http://www.behappy-obu.cp.jp• Eng • ¥

Bishnu is a delicious Indian restaurant where the owner is happy to talk to foreigners. Their naan and curry lunch specials are wonderfully filling.

getting there…
On the second floor of Rokkakudo, 9-1 Mutsumon-machi. 11am-10pm • 0942-37-0369 • Eng • ¥¥

Brava offers some of the best Italian food this side of Naples. They have an authentic log-burning pizza oven and make their own fresh pesto. Be sure to leave room for dessert though—their tiramisu is deliciously alcoholic.

getting there…
Brava is across from a 7-11—look for a red door and an Italian flag. 152-4 Tenjin-machi Tomitaya Biru. 11:30am-3pm & 17:30-10pm (Fri & Sat 10:30pm) • 0942-34-3917 • ¥¥

Daruma This gem of an okonomiyaki joint near the Ikemachi-gawa is only suitable for small groups—there are just 5 tables in the whole shop. Try their Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki with mochi and cheese, severed by the teppan chefs at your table’s hotplate.

getting there…
Daruma is near The Joint supermarket, look for the red lanterns. 18-26 Mutsumon-machi. 11:30am-3pm & 6pm-10pm (Fri-Sat 11pm); closed Mon • 0942-34-6090 • ¥

El Barco  is a great Spanish restaurant. The chef studied in Spain for three years, which shows in his fabulous, authentic paella. Their excellent sangria has fresh oranges and perfectly accompanies the tapas and other Spanish dishes. 126-8 Kushihara-machi. Tues-Fri 5:30-10:30pm, Sat-Sun 12-2:30pm & 5-10:30pm; closed Mon • 0942-31-2032 • ¥¥¥

El Sol has researched its Mexican heritage. Adobe walls and the obligatory jalapeño fairy lights give this place an “authentic” air. It holds a Ladies’ Night twice a week with complementary desserts and coffee. Their Sinchronizada is worth trying and their Tortilla Soup is highly recommended. 17-1 Mutsumon-machi. 6pm-12am Mon-Sat • 0942-35-6838 • Eng • ¥¥¥

Gett (Umikijin) Covered wall-to-wall with decorations and carvings from Indonesia and India, this izakaya has a cool atmosphere and friendly staff. It specializes in South-east Asian cuisine—try the ayamu goren, a Balinese fried chicken dish—but also serves fried bananas and variations on izakaya fair. The original cocktails are great—try the Helicopter. Look for the tiled entryway. 14-46 Hiyoshi-machi. 6pm-3am • 0942-31-3393 • ¥¥

Nakamura, located next to Holtzmarkt in Jojima, serves Western-style food and has the distinction of being one of the few completely non-smoking restaurants in Japan. It has a varied selection of curries and desserts. 1113-7 Naratsu. 11:30am-2:30pm & 5-10pm; closed Sun • 0942-42-4555 • ¥¥

Neima is a small bakery and slow-foods restaurant whose specialty is organic pasta made with local ingredients. Reservations are recommended for larger parties. 5-9 Hotarugawa-machii. 11am-11pm; closed Wed & 2nd Tues of the month • 0942-39-6224 • http://www.neima.jp/• ¥¥

Oden is a trendy little place tucked away down a street off Meiji-dori. The decor is eclectic, with school desks for tables. As the name suggests, the house specialty is oden—great in the winter months. It also has a range of original salads and other dishes including the unlikely (but amazing) natto tempura. 5-15 Higashi-machi. 12pm-12am; closed Sun • 0942-38-3013 • http://www.figarobuilding.com• Veg • ¥¥

Quatre Saisons in Mizuma-machi is a restaurant dedicated to Japanese seasonal cooking using organic ingredients. Some dishes have interesting twists, like a vegetable curry with purple sweet potatoes.

getting there…
To get there, take Route 23 south towards Yanagawa. Just after the Tagawanishi stoplight, look for the building with purple signs. 2837-5 Daiji-Tamamitsu. 11am-3pm & 5-10pm, LO 9:30pm • 0942-65-1846 • ¥¥

Sanmon Gardens is an excellent Korean restaurant with a beautiful interior. The lunch set for ¥1000 features kimchi and traditional Korean hot pot. Dinner is much pricier, but the wonderful food and atmosphere makes it a great place for a date.

getting there…
From Jojima Town Hall, go left. Turn left at the Naratsu stoplight at Route 702 and you’ll see it on your left. 11:30am-3pm & 5:30-9:30pm; closed Tues • 0942-62-6456 • ¥¥

Taihou Ramen Showatei is a great place to try the famous Kurume ramen, as witness to the constant line out the door.

getting there…
On the Kamitsu Bypass near Uniqlo. 1-5-25 Motoyama. 11am-12am; closed Mon • 0942-22-6886 • ¥

Stamina Taro offers a yakiniku nomi-tabehoudai for 90 minutes for around ¥1900.

getting there…
Located on the Kamitsu bypass by Van Electronics. 1-10-10 Motoyama. 11:30am-11:30pm, LO 10pm • 0942-21-2948 • ¥¥

Twilight serves Kurume’s young and hip. The food is original and excellent, the interior oozes retro-cool and the staff are very welcoming. Drinks are pricey but meals are reasonable. The takomeshi, rice with octopus and shiso, and their spicy fries are highly recommended. Look for the rainbow sign and yellow-tinted windows. 337-2 Higashi-machi. 6pm-3am; closed Mon • 0942-37-3761 • Veg • ¥¥

Yatai , or street stalls offering yakitori and Kurume’s famous tonkotsu ramen, light up Kurume’s Meiji-dori after 5pm. ¥

There are also dozens of restaurants lining Meiji-dori (Kurume’s main drag) and along Ikemachi-gawa, a romantic canal that runs parallel to the Ichibangai and lights up at night.

bars and clubs

Buzz  has live shows, DJs, and friendly staff accompanying the intimate atmosphere. The venue is small, but presents a great variety of music and often hosts well-known performers. Drinks are cheap but no food is served. 3-11 Mutsumon-machi 3-11. Hours vary • 0942-30-8270 • ¥¥

K’s Pub, right behind Joint Market on Ikemachi-gawa, draws the local hipster crowd with dim lights and House and Techno DJs on the weekends. 30-1 Higashi-machi. 6pm-1am;LO 12:30am • 0942-39-2233 • Eng • ¥¥

Flamingo Cafe is a small restaurant and bar that serves Spicy Tacos, Locomoco, and more. It’s usually empty, but can be reserved for parties and includes karaoke.

getting there…
Right across from Nishitetsu Kurume Station, look for the neon lights above a beauty salon. 68-4-5F Tenjin-machi. 6pm-2am • 0942-34-0439 • ¥¥

Nixon channels 1960s London with a mod decor and The Beatles on the stereo. They have an inexhaustible cocktail menu and offer great “tacos” on flatbread. Warm and cozy, you can stay here for hours, especially during the winter months. 33-10 Higashi-machi. 12-2:30pm & 6pm-close • 0942-37-1232 • ¥¥

Ye Olde Little Monkey is a “British-style” pub that serves Guinness on tap. It’s great fun if you go in a group or even alone to check out the collection of antique liquor posters that line the walls. It’s easy to miss—look carefully for the painted hanging sign with two monkeys next to a car rental shop. 33-2 Tenjin-machi. 6:30pm-12:30am • 0942-35-0108 • ¥¥

Living There

shopping centers

Don Quixote, a discount store popular with the younger set, is filled to the brim with novelties, sundries, clothing, house wares and groceries, including a selection of non-Japanese Asian food imports and lots of liquor. It’s less than 10 minutes by bike from Youme Town next to Rakuichi Rakuza entertainment center.

getting there…
Off Route 210, look for the bowling pin and a penguin wearing a crown. 2-2-1 Higashi-Aikawa. 10am-3am; weekends 10am-5am • 0942-41-1911

Ichibangai and Nibangai This two-part shopping arcade runs parallel to Meiji-dori, starting in front of Nishitetsu Kurume station and ending near Rokkakudo Square. While strolling through these shopping arcades you’ll find a bit of everything: pachinko parlors, cafes, western and Japanese clothing boutiques, import stores and the high-end department store Izutsuya, which sells a small stock of import foods on the first floor.

Kurume Jibasan  Spotlighting the city’s local specialties and industry, the Jibasan is great for finding gifts to send back home. It usually houses industrial and trade shows, but on the 11th of every month you can pick up regional products such as Kurume-kasuri textiles, sake, basketry, and pottery as well as Moonstar sneakers.

getting there…
To get there, take Nishitetsu Bus #21 or 22 to Jibasansenta-mae or head south on Route 210. 5-8-3 Higashi-Aikawa. 0942-44-3700 • http://www.kttnet.co.jp/jibasan

Joint Market, just south of the Ichibangai and Ikemachi-gawa, has a large array of hard-to-find produce and the best Muzak in town. 27-15 Higashi-machi. 8am-12pm • 0942-35-3839

Nishitetsu Kurume Station boasts a dozen restaurants, Muji, a bookstore, a stationary store, a small music outlet, and Emax, a collection of boutiques including The Body Shop on the upper floors. Across from the bus terminal on the first floor you’ll find a bakery, Mister Donut, Häagen-Daz, several small food vendors and a large grocery store. To the south are more boutiques in Rivi-l and the swanky Iwataya department store, whose basement holds a market with a wide selection of import foods and an expansive Daiso 100 yen store.

Youme Town Kurume is the locals’ shopping favorite. Like the other Youme Towns scattered across the prefecture, you can find basically anything. The anchor stores are Toys R Us, Sports Authority, and Nitori, a home furnishings store that makes deliveries, as well as a Starbucks and a Kinokuniya bookstore with a large English language section. Other gems are a Tower Records and Village Vanguard, which stocks many import snacks, books and toys.

getting there…
Catch the reduced-fare shuttle bus at Nishitetsu Kurume Station or drive on Route 210 east of the Nishitetsu Tenjin-Omuta train line. 1-2-1 Shin-Aikawa. 9am-10:30pm • 0942-45-7100 • http://www.izumi.co.jp/youmetown/kurume

leisure Dance Dreamer, run by a former takarazuka performer, features mainly jazz dance classes but also ballet classes, tap, and a Jazz dance and vocals package. Children and teens generally populate the group classes but private lessons are available. The studio is on the 3rd floor next to the Green Hotel on Meiji-dori. 18-48 Hiyoshimachi 18-48 • 0942-37-2121

Esta has an indoor pool and tennis facilities and offers a variety of drop-in exercise classes. It’s located in the far side of the Sunny shopping plaza on Route 3. Memberships start at ¥7000. 1830 Suwano-machi • 0120-37-2542

Hang-gliding is a popular activity in Tanushimaru. On weekends, people take to the air to sail over the Chikugo River. Visit the Tourist Center in JR Tanushimaru Station for more information.

Kurume Aikido Dojo splits its practice workout between Suwa J.H.S (Tue, Wed) and Jonan J.H.S. (Thu, Sat). It’s ¥3000/month for unlimited attendance to the classes. 0942-43-5264

Nova Sports Center is a gym conveniently located behind Kurume Nishitetsu station and features an indoor pool, weight machines, and several types of workout classes. Memberships start at ¥6000. 154 Tenjin-machi. 0942-35-8282

Oriental Dance Fantasy can make all of your dancing dreams come true. Dalia-sensei’s specialties are Salsa and Flamenco, but she also offers belly dancing classes and happily welcomes foreigners. Classes are held regularly during the week. Ask about French and Spanish language lessons, too! 108-16-3F Torimachi. 0942-34-6224 • http://www.orientalfantasy.net

Tenjin Dance School focuses on competition and social dance, but also offers hip-hop, modern and Latin dance classes. The intense atmosphere will definitely keep you dancing. To find the studio, exit Kurume Nishitetsu Station at the rear and turn right. Follow the Nishitetsu line west one block past the 7-11 and it’s on your left. 639-1 Higashi-machi. 0942-36-0797

Cinema 10 T-Joy, near Youme Town Kurume, is a new entertainment complex that houses a video arcade, a stone spa, a Dotour coffee bar, and a beauty salon along with a 10-screen theater. Movies usually cost ¥1800, but they are ¥1000 for ladies on Wednesdays and for everyone on the first of the month. The stone spa is ¥1800 for 90 minutes.

getting there…
Take the Youme Town shuttle bus from Nishitetsu Kurume Station and get off at the last stop. 2-9-10 Shin-Aikawa. 0942-41-8250 • http://www.t-joy.net/site/kurume

Gailbar and America Head to either of these places to get your karaoke fix. Gailbar gives you a loaf of French bread on Saturday nights and America never closes.

getting there…
Gailbar is across the street from the McDonald’s on the Kamitsu bypass. Kamitsu 1-14-5. 0942-51-8127. For America, look for the Melon Dome and the pink neon sign on the Kamitsu Bypass. 1-6-8 Motoyama. 0942-51-0233

Magic World Karaoke If you don’t mind the freaky-faced entrance or high prices (up to ¥1500 an hour depending on the time you go), you can enjoy the excellent atmosphere and goofy staff off of the Ichibangai. 32-37 Higashi-machi. 0942-31-2525 Raku Ichi Raku Za For ¥3000, you can bowl, karaoke, and eat to your heart’s content.

getting there…
It’s next to Don Quixote off Route 210. Look for the big red neon sign in kanji. 2-7-10 Shin-Aikawa. 10am-12am • 0942-41-1450 • http://www.wideleisure.co.jp

Sports Garden has a pool, video games, table tennis, table hockey, ice-skating, ten-pin bowling and batting cages.

getting there…
It’s across the street from the Ishibashi Cultural Center. 2125 Aikawa-machi. 10am-2am Sun-Thu; 10am-4am Fri-Sat • 0942-37-2541

health

Dr. Honma runs a small, by-appointment internal medicine clinic across the street from City Hall and speaks English well.

getting there…
To get there, take any Nishitetsu Bus to Shiyakusho-mae and you’ll find it on the street to the west of City Hall next to a large hair salon. 14-3 Jonan-machi. 9am-12:30pm & 2-6pm (9am-1pm Thurs & Sat); closed Sun • 0942-33-3421

Jyogo Dental Clinic has English-speaking staff.

getting there…
Exit from Nishitetsu Daizenji Station and walk out along the main road. After four blocks it will be on your right. 1-4-37 Daizenji-minami. 9am-12:30pm & 2-7pm; closed Sun • 0942-26-1555

Kurume University Hospital is the biggest hospital in the region. All departments have at least one English speaker, usually trained overseas, including gynecologists. If you need certain types of birth control, they can refer you to a clinic. Some of the front desk staff also speak English. Consultation hours vary, but usually start at 9am.

getting there…
Buses #6, 8, and 52 from Nishitetsu Kurume Station’s last stop is there at Daigakubyoin. 67 Asahi-cho. 0942-31-7610 • http://www.hosp.kurume-u.ac.jp/

Saint Maria’s Hospital, sometimes called “Saint Mary’s” in English, is where ALTs are often taken to be treated for ailments as it’s near Kurume’s Municipal Board of Education. English is somewhat available.

getting there…
On Route 209 by the NTT Building, two blocks north of Nishitetsu Shikenjo-mae station. 422 Tsubukuhonmachi. 0942-35-3322 • http://www.st-mary-med.or.jp/

Yano Clinic in Tanushimaru has at least one English-speaking doctor.

getting there…
Driving on Route 210 towards Hita, turn left at the Takatori intersection, go straight for one block, and turn left at the first stoplight. It will be on your left. 533 Takatori. Mon-Fri, 8:30am-12pm & 2-5pm, Sat 9am-12pm. 0943-72-2464 • http://yano-clinic.myhp-net.com/

other

Planet 24-hour Internet café has two locations in Kurume: one off the Kamitsu Bypass near the Motoyama  intersection and the other in the basement of Rivi-l next to Nishitetsu Kurume Station. There are different spaces you can rent, including one with two couches that can accommodate up to six people. You can choose between just using a computer or spaces that have televisions and DVD players, and there is also an all-you-can-drink cappuccino/espresso machine. For Internet only, one hour is ¥400. Kamitsu location: 1-10-10 Motoyama, 0942-51-2266. Kurume Station location: 8 Tenjin-machi, 0942-38-6600

Kurume Bicycle Impound Lot lies under the Mametsu Bridge next to Bairinji temple. It’s a good place to start if your bicycle was stolen or was swept up in an illegal bicycle-parking raid. You should expect to pay about ¥1500 for bike bail.

Kurume H.I.S. Travel manager Miyagi-san speaks English clearly, as does another staff member who specializes in domestic travel.

getting there…
Walk west along Meiji-dori towards the central post office from Nishitetsu Kurume Station and the office is to your left. 38-44 Higashi-machi. 10am-6:30pm, weekends 11am-4:30pm • 0942-39-5585

Kurume Tourism and International Exchange Association is hard to find on the first floor and under the stairs of Kurume Civic Hall. The association facilitates Japanese language classes, home-stays, and student exchanges and maintains the Kurume International Information Salon, which is useful as a clearinghouse for pamphlets and a small English library made up of donations from former JETs. The Salon also hosts consultations for foreigners by administrative lawyers covering immigration, international marriage, naturalization, family registration, alien registration, permanent residence, tax, and social insurance on the 3rd Saturday of each month from 10am-3pm with a lunch break (12-1pm). English, Chinese, and Korean interpreters are on hand, and confidentiality is guaranteed. Appointments are not necessary. The association’s website is available in four languages and provides a good summary of the city’s services and cultural sites. 16-1 Jonan-machi. 0942-31-1717 •http://www.kiea-azalea.jp

L-Pia houses a variety of Kurume’s cultural and social organizations, such as The Lifelong Education Center and The Equality Rights for Men & Women Promotion Center, in an architecturally open and graceful building with a stunning vaulting atrium. L-Pia has a library, a free Internet terminal, and occasionally presents chamber music offerings and some English movie screenings. This is also the venue for the Kurume International Exchange Association’s volunteer Japanese classes.

getting there…
Head south on Route 3 towards Yame and turn right at the L-Pia Kurume intersection. 1830-6 Suwano-machi. 0942-30-7900 •http://www.elpia.kurume.fukuoka.jp/

YWCA of Fukuoka offers language courses in Kurume that specifically train for the Japanese Proficiency Language Tests. Call the Tenjin office at 092-741-9251 or visit http://www.ymcajapan.org/fukuoka/japanese/en/index.html for more information.