A young, vibrant city that makes a great base to explore southern Japan
Bustling Fukuoka is the largest city in Kyushu and the sixth largest in Japan. Due to its proximity to the Asian mainland, it has long been an important port city and even today it remains a busy commercial hub. With much of the city having been rebuilt after World War II, Fukuoka is now a modern and very livable city with a young population that continues to expand steadily. Visitors come for the shopping and entertainment and to enjoy the rowdy food stalls by the waterfront. It’s also an excellent base for traveling in Kyushu and southern Honshu due to its convenient rail, road and ferry connections.
Things to do
Fukuoka's local speciality is a thick pork broth noodle dish called hakata ramen. Don't miss the chance to try a hot, hearty bowl while in town. Try Hakata Ramen Zen for a super-cheap but tasty bowl or Shin Shin for some of the best in town. They also have pitch-black sesame ramen if you’re up for the challenge!
Now and Zen
Shofukuji Temple was Japan’s first Zen temple and, unsurprisingly, it displays the architectural features that characterise temples in this branch of Buddhism. The buildings are mostly closed to the public, but they’re pretty to look at and the leafy grounds make for a nice stroll.
Founded in the late 600s, Dazaifu is a cute little town that was the centre of political life in Kyushu for about 500 years and the major point of interaction with the rest of Asia. You wouldn't guess its illustrious past from its unassuming ambience today, but you can visit Dazaifu on a day trip from Fukuoka. Brush up on its history at the National Museum opens in new window and the ruins of former government buildings.
Shopping and entertainment complex Canal City opens in new window bills itself as a city within a city, and really, with so much to do here, why go anywhere else? It’s home to about 250 shops and restaurants, a cinema, a game centre, a cinema, a couple of hotels and the eponymous canal where water shows are occasionally held.
Yatai, or food stalls, are a common sight in Japan and they usually pop up at festivals and events. At the south end of Nakasu Island in the river that splits the city into the Fukuoka and Hakata districts, however, they’re a permanent and much-loved fixture. Stroll through and pick your poison while hawkers try to lure you in. Grilled pigs’ feet are delicious, believe us!
Distance to city centre 5km
Taxi There are taxi stands at both the domestic and international terminals. The ride into central Fukuoka will take about 15 mintues and cost around JPY ¥2500.
Train The Fukuoka City Subway opens in new window (the station is inside the Domestic Terminal 2 building) goes to Tenjin or Nakasu-Kawabata in the centre of town, from where it connects to other lines. The trip to Tenjin takes about 10 minutes; the fare is JPY ¥260.
Bus Buses opens in new window take around 35 minutes to reach Tenjin, and there are highway buses to Kumamoto, Yufuin, Kurokawa Onsen and other popular tourist spots in Kyushu outside the International Terminal Building. There’s a free shuttle bus between terminals.Back to top
When to go
Fukuoka has a warm southern climate, with hot, humid summers and very mild winters. Summer temperatures can far exceed 30ºC, whereas in the winter the mercury rarely drops below freezing. June to September can see a lot of rain, but autumn is a very pleasant time to visit.
The Hakata Dontaku Festival opens in new window, which involves special costumes and dancing that incorporates wooden rice spoons, is a popular event in early May that attracts as many as two million participants. In July, you can catch the Hakata Gion Yamakasa Festival opens in new window, where men rush through the streets at full speed carrying one-tonne shrines called yamakasa. There are also displays of decorative yamakasa modelled after famous anime characters or figures from history and folklore.Back to top
The convenient subway opens in new window provides access to most of the places you’ll want to go in Fukuoka. A one-day pass is available from ticket machines and station windows. The Nishitetsu Line is useful if you’re heading out of town to Dazaifu.
Fukuoka is well served by Nishitetus buses opens in new window, including a special JPY ¥100 loop bus that travels between Hakata and Tenjin stations, convenient for getting around downtown.Back to top