Are you planning to visit Fukuoka anytime soon? There are many exciting things you can do in Fukuoka. However, if you are a first time visitor, deciding what to do in Fukuoka for a short time may be difficult. So, it’s very important to plan your trip carefully in advance and choose where you want to go or what you want to do, in order to make the most of your trip.
Where does one even start exploring? We recommend starting with this checklist, where we have compiled the best attractions to see, foods to eat, and things to do in Fukuoka. The list includes classic tourist destinations, historical landmarks, and the latest trendy spots so you can experience both traditional and modern cultures of Japan!
Due to current Covid-19 restrictions, these establishments may have different operating hours. Please check the official websites prior to visiting.
This article is a part of our extensive series on learning about Japanese Culture through online Japanese lessons at Japan Switch.
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What is Fukuoka famous for?
Fukuoka, one of the largest cities in Japan, is a tourism hot spot that's home to numerous historical monuments, fine museums, as well as great places to dine. Throughout the year, the city hosts various events and festivals which draw a great number of visitors. The most popular one is the famous Hakata Gion Yamakasa, 700-year-old celebration held each Summer, which features Kakiyama (festival float). The float stands around 5 to 10 meters tall and is carried around the city as an act of float-racing.
Another popularly attended festival in Fukuoka is the Hakata Dontaku Festival, which has been held every year since 1962 during the Golden Week holiday. Every year, around 2.1 million people come to watch this festival, which features a parade with extravagantly costumed dancers, marching bands, and flower cars.
The city is also known for having lots of unique and delicious food. Tonkotsu ramen, one of the most popular and hearty ramens in the world, originated in Fukuoka and can be found at numerous restaurants and food stalls throughout the city. For those who live to eat, Fukuoka is the perfect place for you to visit!
How to get to Fukuoka
The best way to get to Fukuoka is by plane. Fukuoka Airport is Japan's most conveniently accessible airport, located only a five-minute subway ride from Hakata Station, the city's main railway station.
If you are flying from Tokyo, the flight time is approximately 2 hours. Most flights use Tokyo's Haneda Airport, which is convenient and allows you to customize your plan as you want. However, a few of low-cost airlines use Narita Airport, making it an excellent choice for anyone looking to save money.
The Shinkansen is another comfortable option to travel from Tokyo to Fukuoka. It does, however, take longer and costs more money than flying.
Other options would be to ride the night bus from Tokyo to Fukuoka. The tickets start at roughly 7,500 yen. The journey takes 14 hours, as the night buses between Tokyo and Fukuoka have the longest travel time during the night among the Japanese bus lines. This would be the next best alternative when all flights and Shinkansen tickets are sold out.
Getting around the city
You can easily explore major areas in the city such as Hakata and Tenjin by bus. Simply pay the fare with prepaid IC cards, which can be purchased at the train stations. Various convenient and money-saving travel passes can be bought at the Fukuoka Airport, subway stations, and bus terminals. A 1-day pass that allows unlimited rides on Fukuoka city buses is sold for just ¥900.
The subway line connects Hakata Station, Tenjin Station, and Fukuoka Airport. You can easily go to many Fukuoka city's tourist attractions such as Kushida Shrine and Ohori Park by using the subway. For people who want to use the subway to get around, there is a 2-day pass for travelers, which allows unlimited subway rides on all lines for only ¥740.
8 best things to do in Fukuoka
1) Kushida Jinja: Visit Fukuoka’s oldest Shinto shrine
Kushida Jinja is located in the center of Fukuoka. Locals regard Kushida Jinja to be the city's guardian shrine. Despite its tiny size, it has a surprisingly large number of visitors.
If you wish to live a long life, do not miss out on taking a sip from the well in Kushida Shrine. Legend has it that the water from this well bestows longevity and eternal youth. The well is located just next to the shrine building, framed by three cranes.
In the shrine yard, you can spot the 1000-year old gingko tree with two monumental tablets on its foot believed to have been salvaged from the aftermath of the Mongol invasion back in the 13th century.
Visiting Kushida Shrine is probably one of the most popular things to do in Fukuoka in the summer. The famous Hakata Gion Yamakasa festival is dedicated to this shrine. The shrine is also the starting point of the final day’s float race. On the festival day, hundreds of men gather and get ready to march through Fukuoka’s central streets carrying one-ton high floats on their backs. Of all the things to do in Fukuoka, visiting Kushida Shrine should absolutely be on your list.
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2) See the Reclining Buddha statue at Nanzoin Temple
The Nanzoin Temple is located 15 kilometers east of Fukuoka. It is one of the prefecture's most visited Buddhist shrines, attracting over a million pilgrims and visitors each year.
The primary attraction at Nanzoin Temple is the massive bronze statue of the Reclining Buddha (Nehanzo or Shaka Nehan), which was constructed in 1995. The reclining Buddha of Nanzoin Temple is considered the world's longest existing bronze Buddha statue. It is the same size as New York's Statue of Liberty at 11 meters in length and 41 meters in height. While there are lots of places to see and things to do in Fukuoka, you can’t go past this impressive sight of the Reclining Buddha at Nanzoin Temple.
3) Visit Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine
Another famous destination in Fukuoka is Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine, which is dedicated to Sugawara Michizane who is known as the god of learning. If you want to pray for your success in exams and academic achievement, you should definitely visit this shrine!
The shrine is busy all year around, many Japanese people go to the shrine to pray for good grades in their upcoming examinations. Charms may be purchased at the kiosks located to the side of the main shrine. During exam season, there are a lot of ema charms (Small wooden plaques used by Shinto and Buddhist worshippers in Japan to write their wishes and prayers) hanging throughout the shrine's grounds.
Around the beginning of February until the middle of March, the 6000 plum trees planted on the site will decorate the shrine beautifully. There are 200 different varieties of plum trees at the shrine, all of which were donated by shrines around the country.
Want to know more about shrines and temples in Japan? Also check out these articles:
Ultimate Guide to Shrines and Temples in Tokyo
Ultimate Guide to Visiting Shrines in Tokyo
4) Take an unforgettable trip through Japan’s history at Kyushu National Museum
The Kyushu National Museum is Japan's first new national museum in over a century. A lot of people consider Kyushu National Museum the "historical museum," which is different from the other national museums that mainly exhibits art.
This museum was built to show the evolution of Japanese culture from the Paleolithic period to the end of Tokugawa Era in the late 1860s. The museum houses an excellent collection of artifacts shown in fun and educational ways.
Additionally, several small theaters show short films in the museum. One of the theaters features a super high-resolution video system with the most up-to-date image processing and color management software. If you’re looking for things to do in Fukuoka that involve learning about Japanese history, definitely check out Kyushu National Museum.
5) Snap pictures at Tochoji Temple
Tochoji Temple was constructed in the early ninth century upon the return of the famed Buddhist priest Kukai (Kobo Daishi) from China. The largest wooden statue of Buddha seated on a pedestal in Japan, the Fukuoka Great Buddha, is located in this temple.
Another attraction of this temple is the Jigoku-Gokuraku meguri, or path from hell to heaven, which involves entering a dark tunnel under the base of Fukuoka Great Buddha statue. In the middle of the path, it will be pitch black, but you can see a picture of paradise as you go. There is also a ring in the center of the road. It is said that if you touch it, you can go to heaven. Of all the things to do in Fukuoka, walking down the path from hell to heaven in Tochoji Temple should absolutely be on your list. Additionally, the temple contains a five-story pagoda that holds a Buddhist relic, a bone from the historical Buddha Shakyamuni.
6) Stroll around Ohori Park
Ohori Park is a popular spot for residents of Fukuoka to go for recreation and relaxation. The pond at Ohori Park is designated as a Registered Monument of Japan. While you stroll the walking path that circles around the pond, you will see folks chatting with their friends, reading, jogging, cycling, and walking their dogs in the park. Ohori Park is great if you want to enjoy a little fresh air and just soak up the overall atmosphere and vibe.
The park contains a number of different attractions, such as boat rental, a museum, a Japanese garden, and a Noh theater (a type of theater that shows classical Japanese dance-drama). The park is not only beautiful during the day. The park's many pagodas and pavilions are lit up at night, which makes it even more fun to visit. PRO TIP: For the best view of the fireworks in August, try to plan your trip ahead around them.
7) Wander around Fukuoka Castle ruins in Maizuru Park
Maizuru Park was established in the vicinity of the ruins of Fukuoka Castle. The castle was the home of a powerful political leader Kuroda Nagasama until the Meiji Era. It was then taken over by the American army during World War II, making this a very important place in Japanese history. Fukuoka Castle is best known for its large stone walls.
The best time to visit the park is in the spring when more than a thousand cherry trees are blooming at the same time. One of the best things to do in Fukuoka in spring is you can go there for hanami (cherry blossom viewing) parties. Still, it's also an ideal place to go for a city walk all year long.
8) Walk along Momochi Seaside Park
The Momochi Seaside Park is tucked away in the suburbs and is a great place to get away from the hustle and bustle of Fukuoka city.
When it comes to beaches in Fukuoka, Momochihama Beach is a popular destination for visitors from all over the prefecture. One thing that makes it unique is that it's man-made, which looks remarkably clean and beautiful. It is 2.5 kilometers long and has great views of Hakata Bay.
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5 foodie things to do in Fukuoka
Fukuoka is home to some of the most delicious cuisine in Japan. Fukuoka has evolved a unique and interesting food culture that has been influenced by Korean and Chinese cuisine. Some Fukuoka specialties, such as Hakata Ramen and motsunabe, have taken Japan by storm and gained widespread popularity. Fukuoka's food alone is worth the trip to Kyushu, and here are a few must-try meals to get the most out of your visit.
9) Enjoy Yatai stalls at night
Yatai, small open-air food stalls, are probably Fukuoka's most well-known symbol, and you should not miss them when you visit the city. At around 6pm at night, there are about 100 food stalls all over the town, each selling a unique Japanese dish like yakitori and tempura. This is a scene that isn't so common anywhere else in Japan so definitely put it on your foodie list of things to do in Fukuoka!
Yatai usually seats seven or eight people and has a nice outdoor setting where people can eat simple and filling food. You can get your fill of grilled chicken skewers (yakitori), dumplings, hot pot (oden), tempura, or the world-famous Hakata Ramen. Yatai is a great place to mingle with the locals and get a feel for the atmosphere in Fukuoka.
10) Tonkotsu Ramen: Taste the soul food of Hakata
Tonkotsu ramen is one of Japan's most popular types of ramen, and it originated in Hakata. Ichiran Ramen, a well-known Japanese ramen chain restaurant specializing in tonkotsu ramen, was established in Fukuoka. Do you know that in Fukuoka, tonkotsu ramen is commonly referred to as Hakata ramen? Therefore, eating a bowl of Hakata ramen while in Fukuoka is a must!
The broth is the heart and soul of Hakata ramen. To make its trademark milky broth, pork bones, fatback, and a slew of other ingredients are simmered for about 8 to 12 hours. The broth has a rich and creamy flavor and is served with thin ramen noodles that can be cooked to your preferred amount of hardness. In addition to pork slices, this ramen bowl is typically served with seasoned soy eggs and green onion sprinkles.
11) Wait in line for Mentaiko (cod roe) dishes
One of the best-known foods in Fukuoka is mentaiko, which is marinated cod roe. Mentaiko made in Fukuoka is known for its high quality and incredible freshness. The type of mentaiko known as karashi mentaiko, which means spicy cod roe, is a favorite in Hakata.
It's a go-to ingredient for Japanese rice balls because of its spicy, nutty flavor that pairs nicely with the grain. It is also a good match for alcoholic beverages. In Fukuoka, many dishes such as Hakata ramen noodles, pasta, and potato salad offer mentaiko as its toppings.
Check out Ganso Hakata Mentaiju if you're in town. However, don’t be put off by the long lines at this restaurant specializing entirely in mentaiko dishes.
12) Motsunabe: Feast on local hot pot dish
Motsunabe is a popular local hot pot meal known for its rich flavor. Nabe, or Japanese hotpot, is a typical cold-weather crowd-pleaser, and Fukuoka elevates it with motsunabe. Motsu refers to cow and pig offal.
Together with vegetables like leeks, chives, and cabbage, tripe and intestines are slowly cooked in a savory broth laced with soy sauce, garlic, miso, and a strong punch of jalapeño peppers. Because it contains a lot of veggies, motsunabe is popular for its healthiness and low cost. At one point, this dish even sparked a food craze across Japan. Because it contains a lot of veggies, motsunabe is popular for its healthiness and low cost. At one point, this dish even sparked a food craze across Japan.
Do you want to know about various types of Japanese Nabe? Check check out this article:
Ultimate Guide to Japanese Nabe
13) Taste the freshest seafood at Nagahama Fish Market
The Nagahama Fish Market is only available to the public on the second Saturday of each month. It is prohibited for the average consumer to enter or purchase at the Nagashima Fish Market because it is a wholesale market.
Fukuoka's main commercial fish market, Nagahama Fish Market, is packed with fishermen selling their best catch of the day to local traders and restaurants. On its open-to-public day, the major event begins at 9:30 am with a tuna auction. In front of your eyes, a whole tuna is sliced and diced, and the best portions are auctioned off to the bidding crowd for reasonable prices. Along with the fish auction, there are demonstrations on how to filet a fish and pamphlets detailing the nutritional value of various species. The market even offers cooking classes on some days.
Visitors can learn about fish and fish culture in the central market hall, which features a wide range of educational opportunities and dining options. If you are looking for fresh and excellent seafood meals, you can always come to the restaurants located in the market hall.
14) Tour the Kirin Beer Factory
Check out how beer is made at this facility, and then get a taste of some of the products. During the park's free brewery tours, visitors can see first-hand the ingredients and materials needed to produce beer, as well as sample freshly brewed tap beer. Non-alcoholic beer and soft drinks are also available, in addition to freshly brewed beer.
As the tour is quite popular and the factory line is closed on the weekends and public holidays, we recommend reserving the tour online in advance to ensure a spot. You can also enjoy the garden in front of the beer factory that is filled with beautiful flowers each season has to offer, from cherry blossoms and poppies in spring, and cosmos in the fall. From mid-to-late May, around 10 million poppy flowers will be in bloom. The area will also be extremely packed during the flowering season.
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3 fun free things to do in Fukuoka
Navigating a fascinating town like Fukuoka, packed tightly with historical attractions, excellent shopping, and several dining options, could quickly drain your wallet in a single day. Here are the budget-friendly things you can do in Fukuoka.
15) Visit Fukuoka Tower for free on your birthday
They said the best things in life are free and it’s true in Fukuoka. Go to Fukuoka Tower during your birthday week (three days before or three days after) and not only will they let you ride up to the top of Fukuoka's highest lookout for free, but you'll also receive a special birthday card.
In addition, they also provide various discounts and service benefits for each tenant such as 20% discount for the Sky Lounge restaurant on the second floor, 10% discount for the souvenir shop, and many more!
16) Enjoy the view from ACROS Step Garden
In central Tenjin, the ACROS Building's rooftop is a spot from which you can overlook the city from above. A waterfall of greenery cascades down the tiered sides of the building from the rooftop garden.
There are 809 stairs leading up to the rooftop observatory, which is only accessible on weekends and holidays. It is not accessible from the inside of the building. A total of 50,000 plants are currently in the garden, which includes 120 different varieties.
Opening hours vary depending on the season, so please double-check ACROS facility guide before making your way to the park.
17) Learn the history of toilets at TOTO Museum
TOTO has the greatest market share of toilets in Japan. The TOTO Museum opened in 2015 to commemorate Toto's 100th anniversary and is dedicated to the history of toilets. It is a stylish and futuristic looking two-story facility, with a showroom on the first floor and the museum on the second floor.
The museum takes visitors on a journey through TOTO's history, beginning with the invention of the first ceramic flush toilet seat in 1914. The company's formal creation in 1917 as a pioneer in the ceramic sanitation business when the majority of Japan lacked a sewerage system.
The museum's free Wi-Fi provides access to exhibit descriptions in five languages (English, Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese, Korean, and Japanese). If you’re looking for things to do in Fukuoka that are one-of-a-kind, you should definitely check out TOTO Museum.
4 places to go shopping in Fukuoka
18) Kawabata Shopping Arcade: Hakata’s oldest shopping street
The Kawabata Shopping Arcade was the first business district in the Hakata district to thrive. Its history can be traced back more than 130 years, and it is still going strong today.
Over 125 shops and restaurants in this shopping arcade spread out over 400 meters of a main road. All kinds of things are for sale at this arcade, from Buddhist altars and traditional fabrics to hamburgers and noodles. There are more than 12,000 people who go through the arcade every day, making it a popular destination for tourists.
While the rest of Fukuoka City has evolved rapidly, the Kawabata shopping arcade has remained true to its original roots. It is a great location to visit for a dose of nostalgia.
19) Tenjin Chikagai: Largest underground shopping area in Kyushu
If department stores aren't high up on your list of things to do in Fukuoka, the Tenjin underground shopping mall offers a more comfortable shopping experience. There are roughly 150 shops in this 600 meter long underground shopping area with 12 streets that sell various products from fashion, cuisine, books, and other products.
The facility connects Tenjin and Tenjin Minami subway stations, and allows direct access to Mitsukoshi department stores from the underground. Now you can stop by and do some shopping on your route to the train station without worrying about the weather!
20) Daimyo: Hip and trendy shopping area
Daimyo is one of Fukuoka's coolest places to visit. It has everything from vintage clothes and record stores to Instagram-worthy food, While Daimyo does have some of the more well-known high-street brands such as Zara and Nike, if you're seeking for a vintage find, Daimyo is a best option. A google search will show a wide variety of choices.
If you want to go to a concept store, try Alice on Wednesday, which has an interior mostly based on the world of Through the Looking-Glass, a sequel to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.
Take your time walking around if you just want to go for a stroll. Make sure to look up, as some smaller shops are hidden on the upper floors. While there are lots of places to see and things to do in Fukuoka, you can’t go past Daimyo!
21) Canal City Hakata: City within the city
Canal City Hakata is a huge shopping and entertainment complex that claims to be a "city inside a city".
The complex features over 250 stores, cafes, and restaurants, as well as a theater, a game center, theaters, and two hotels. Canal City Hakata is a prominent tourist destination in Fukuoka, attracting a large number of international visitors.
Each night from 7:45 pm to 9 pm, you can see various light and fountain shows. The best spot to view the shows are from the bridge connecting the mall and the Grand Hyatt Fukuoka or the small plaza adjacent to the fountain.
How to make the most of your trip in Fukuoka
Fukuoka is a charming city with an extremely vibrant and distinctive culture brimming with festivals and events throughout the year. Any time of the year, there are moving sights to see. There are streets full of greenery, blooming flowers, festivals that keep old traditions alive, as well as new music festivals and sports events that have just been started.
Fukuoka provides a diverse range of activities and sights to see for each season. In winter, Fukuoka City is transformed into a glistening spectacle as businesses and public spaces cover the streets with magnificent Christmas decorations. During the spring cherry blossom viewing season, places such as Maizuru Park will be filled with people who are taking part in hanami (flower watching).
Whether you're visiting for the first time or returning for a second time, you'll want to take advantage of Fukuoka's broad sightseeing calendar. To learn more about the seasons and festivals in Japan, check out our Ultimate Guide to Seasons in Japan and our Ultimate Guide to Japanese Festivals.
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