The Fukuoka City Subway system is unique in that each station has its own symbol, a depiction showing something characteristic about the district or area that station is in. Although this slightly confusing system has now been augmented by letter-number combinations like other subway systems in Japan, the symbols are still an interesting part of moving around underground through Fukuoka City.
The following are some simple explanations of the symbols used on the Kuko Subway Line, starting from Meinohama in the west and ending with Fukuokakuko (Fukuoka Airport) in the east. I will tackle the Nanakuma and Hakozaki Lines in later posts. Descriptions are based on Japanese descriptions by the Fukuoka City Transportation Bureau, and romanizations of station names are the same as the official romanizations.
Meinohama Station is above-ground, and Fukuoka’s beloved Odo yacht harbor can be seen from the station. The symbol is designed to look like the yachts to which young people entrust the pursuit of their dreams.
This symbol depicts the pristine waters and fishing weirs used to catch icefishes (Salangidae) that are characteristic of the Muromi River. The river is symbolized by the depiction’s elegant, flowing lines.
This symbol provides a clear, visual depiction of the station name through the use of a Japanese wisteria flower (called fuji in Japanese, the same character as that used in “Fujisaki”), as well as the characteristic purple color of the flower.
The “N” initial, an active-looking figure representing the central district of western Fukuoka City, is complimented by a youthful “student” theme to represent the character of Nishijin.
In order to represent Tojimachi, a district known for its connections with mainland Asian culture, a stylized arabesque version of the “To” character from “Tojinmachi” is displayed in the center of a work of pottery.
The cherry blossom flower design is used for Ohorikoen Station. Not only is the cherry blossom beloved by Japanese people, but cherry blossoms can be found in Nishi Park, Ohori Park, the art museum, and the remains of Fukuoka Castle, all of which are served by Ohorikoen Station.
The “A” character (ア) from “Akasaka” is depicted here as an athlete moving swiftly at the nearby Heiwadai Track and Field Stadium.
Tenjin-sama, a Shinto deity of scholarship from folklore and the origin of the Tenjin District’s name, is shown here through a plum blossom (ume). The round flower petals symbolize Tenjin’s place as the central district of Fukuoka City.
The kanji characters “Naka” from “Nakasu” and “Kawa” from “Kawabata” are arranged to look like a crest on one of the long happi coats used in Fukuoka’s famous Hakata Gion Yamakasa festival.
This popular textile pattern (博多献上模様, hakata kenjo moyo), famous throughout all of Japan, is shown in easily recognizable form to symbolize Hakata Station as the entrance to the former merchant city of Hakata.
The “Hi” (ひ) character used in “Higashi-Hie” is arranged to make an image resembling one of the pieces of earthenware found at the Hie excavation site, and the two circles at the left and right (on the top part of the ひ character) represent neighboring Fukuokakuko and Hakata Stations. In addition, the symbol is designed to exude a humorous feel.
The straightforward depiction of an airplane soaring through the sky, styled to look like a badge you might put on your sleeve, is meant to help subway riders recognize that this station serves Fukuokakuko (Fukuoka Airport). The sky blue color is the same as that of the vast skies above.
* Note: Images are linked from the Fukuoka City Transportation Bureau’s website.