Fukuoka is the sixth-largest city, the second-largest port city in Japan after Yokohama, and the capital city of Fukuoka Prefecture, situated on the northern shore of the Japanese island of Kyushu. The city is built along the shores of Hakata Bay, and has been a center of international commerce since ancient times. The area has long been considered the gateway to the country, as it is the nearest point among Japan's main islands to the Asian mainland. Although humans occupied the area since the Jomon period, some of the earliest settlers of the Yayoi period arrived in the Fukuoka area. The city rose to prominence during the Yamato period. Because of the cross-cultural exposure, and the relatively great distance from the social and political centers of Kyoto, Osaka, and later, Edo, Fukuoka gained a distinctive local culture and dialect that has persisted to the present.
Fukuoka is the most populous city on the island, followed by Kitakyushu. It is the largest city and metropolitan area west of Keihanshin. The city was designated on April 1, 1972, by government ordinance.