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Kurume City Plaza has something for everyone
Price: 0 yen
A new city plaza recently opened in Kurume city, joining the new city hall building as one of our few modern buildings. The city plaza had a sort of open house before so I had the chance to walk through, but this time I went for one of the events.
I was invited to visit a craft sale as a couple acquaintances were selling there. It was a bigger event than I expected, with several rooms being used. The outdoor area is where all the food vendors gather so they can create delicious smelling smoke to attract customers. There are also big halls to be used for concerts and performances, as well as a Japanese room, rental spaces, a rooftop garden, etc. There’s a room for kids on the ground floor that I recommend – playfully designed by Tupera Tupera.
In addition to handmade accessories at the event, there were several hands on/DIY tables where artists guided visitors through decorating iced cookies, making a bamboo basket, or preparing miso, for example. There were vendors visiting from other prefectures to sell there which made me feel like the new city plaza is a big deal.
Bike parking is a covered area on the ground floor, free and very convenient, although spaces are a bit narrow. I have heard there’s a lack of car parking even though most people in Kurume drive. I think the planners were betting on most visitors using public transportation as the plaza is between Nishitetsu Kurume and JR Kurume stations, close to Mutsumon bus stop. There are also bike rentals (くるクル) available throughout the city center.
Behind the plaza there's 二番街 (nibangai), an old shopping street, or shotengai. It has been going through a revitalization but still isn’t the busy or popular place to go despite easy access from Nishitetsu Kurume station. As most people drive, I guess they prefer the Youme Town mall in the more suburban neighborhood of Shin-Aikawa. Anyway, some super fancy places have opened up near the plaza, contrasting with the aging shops in the area. It's already the new center of any city festivals.