I have always loved the marche de noel or Christmas markets in Europe. During the yuletide season, you can find them in various cities -- festive booths sell crafts, pastries, and of course food and wine from different regions. They're delightful places where you can really feel the magic of a European Christmas. My favourite is the Strasbourg Christmas Market, widely acclaimed as the oldest and most popular of them all.
I did not know until I read about it that Hakata Station in Fukuoka has held a Christmas Market annually for the past four years. So of course it was our very first destination when we arrived in Fukuoka. The station was a fifteen minute walk from the apartment and we arrived just as the lights were being turned on.
The Japanese are known for their technical wizardry and this is evident in the illuminations that each city puts up during the holidays. Dazzling and sophisticated -- these are amazing displays that
draw thousands of crowds.
The brilliant blue and white illumination in Hakata Station turned the Christmas Market into a glorious winter forest. It was beautiful and so unique.
Perhaps because it was a Sunday evening, the market was so crowded. You could barely get past the people to go near the various booths -- selling European specialties like charcuterie, cheese, mulled wine and of course European beer.
Traditional European houses of different kinds, enough to build your own miniature village, were the bestsellers in the crafts section of the market.
Even if we wanted to sit down and have dinner at the Christmas Market, there was not a single empty table. A band was playing so people were sitting around, enjoying the music and the cool, mild winter weather.
We smelled before we saw this booth selling sausages -- there was a queue at this popular kiosk.
I had a mug of the hot wine -- infused with spices and harkening back memories of
the mulled wine from the marche de noel by the Notre Dame. That was in a plastic cup and this
came in a reusable ceramic mug. But both gave me that warm glow of Christmas.
Here's to a Joyeux Noel here in Fukuoka!