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!
Travel time 20 minutes
Taxi Approx JPY ¥1,200-2,000
Train Take the Fukuoka City Subway (inside the Domestic Terminal 2 building) to Tenjin or Nakasu-Kawabata to connect to other lines. Fares from JPY ¥260.
Bus Highway buses to Kumamoto, Yufuin, Kurokawa Onsen and other popular tourist spots in Kyushu are available from bus stops at the International Terminal Building.There are highway buses available to Kumamoto, Yufuin, Kurokawa Onsen and other popular tourist spots in Kyushu.Taxi fare for the trip to town, which takes around 20 minutes depending on traffic, is JPY ¥1,200-2,000.Fukuoka Airport is located within the city limits, meaning you can be in the heart of Fukuoka in about five minutes for only JPY ¥260! Take the Fukuoka Subway Airport Line to Tenjin or Nakasu-Kawabata to connect to other lines. 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 subway provides access to most of the places you’ll want to go in Fukuoka. A one-day pass is available for JPY ¥620 from ticket machines as well as station windows. The Nishitetsu Line is useful if you’re heading out of town to Dazaifu.
Beyond that, there’s a JPY ¥100 bus that makes a loop between Hakata and Tenjin stations, which makes it convenient for getting around downtown. On the weekends, a tourist bus called the Green Loop connects Hakata Station with many of the major tourist attractions. It’s JPY ¥250 per ride or JPY ¥700 for a day pass. Download the Easy Guide to Fukuoka (PDF, 2.0MB)Back to top