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Fukuoka

Travel Guide

Places to visit in Fukuoka
with your Japan Rail Pass



city at night

As one of Japan’s largest and most progressive cities, Fukuoka has a lot to offer. Located in the north of Kyushu island, the city has the fantastic location right on the water. Thanks to that, several canals run through the city, creating a lovely atmosphere.

white castle river

FUKUOKA CASTLE

Fukuoka Castle, also known as Maizuru Castle and Seki Castle, is a castle that once spanned an area of ​​47,000 square meters. Today, only ruins and a small fraction of the original castle remain.

The part that remains is still impressive to see thanks to its location high on a rock bed overlooking the Naka River.

The best time to visit Fukuoka Castle is the first week of April when over 10,000 cherry blossoms bloom. It is also when the Fukuoka Castle Sakura Festival is held.

shrine pagoda lake

ŌHORI PARK

Ohori park is a very nice and popular public park with a big pond in the middle. Around the pond, there are cozy walking paths that are covered in beautiful cherry blossoms in the spring. You will also find small bridges that lead you over to picturesque islands. Walk around and enjoy the beautiful nature and the tranquility it brings.

“Ohori” is the Japanese name for moat and the park got its name because the pond used to be part of the moat that protected Fukuoka Castle which is right next door. Plan to visit Fukuoka Castle and Ohori Park while you’re in the same area.

red building tempel

SUMIYOSHI JINA SHRINE

Sumiyoshi-jina Shrine is a shrine located right on the Naka River and is believed to have been one of the most important sites in the past. Sumiyoshi-jina was built over 1,800 years ago to protect and bring good luck to seafarers. 

Among other things, the shrine has a counterpart in Osaka, so if you have visited it, you will recognize the building’s architecture as they follow the same traditional style called Sumiyoshi.

famous shrine street

KUSHIDA JINJA SHRINE

Kushida Shrine is Fukuoka’s most popular tourist attraction and is also considered the city’s most important shrine. Built in 757, this Shinto shrine is the city’s oldest temple and is considered the city’s patron saint by locals.

If you are here in July, it is a must to visit Kushida Jinja Shrine as this is where the city’s biggest festival “Hakata Gion Yamakasa” starts. Read more about the festival below.

parade festival

GION YAMAKASA FESTIVAL

The Hakata Gion Yamakasa Festival is Fukuoka’s largest festival and is held annually in early July. The festival lasts for 2 weeks and ends with a competition where seven neighborhoods in Fukuoka’s Hakata district compete against each other. The competition is a time trial and the contestants must push large and beautifully decorated floats along a 5km distance. Fastest wins!

There are two different sizes of the parade floats. The largest are 10 meters high and weigh several tons. These are exhibited in the city and have a decorative purpose. The smaller carts are 5 meters high and weigh about 1 ton, and these are the ones they compete with.

shark swiming

MARINE WORLD UMINONAKAMICHI

A perfect outing for the whole family. Visit Marine World Uminonakamichi and experience Fukuoka’s marine life up close. Among other things, the aquarium is home to over 100 sharks that swim around in a large water tank with panoramic glass.

In total, the aquarium has 70 different tanks, the largest of which is home to over 20,000 creatures. Be sure to visit their outdoor tanks where you can experience dolphins and sea lions while enjoying the view of Hakata Bay.

pink sakura trees

UMINONAKAMICHI SEASIDE PARK

Uminonakamichi seaside park is right next to Marine World and is therefore perfect to visit on the same day. Enjoy a lovely walk among thousands of beautiful flowers and plants such as tulips, sunflowers, hydrangeas and roses. 

Thanks to its 2,000 cherry trees, the park is also one of the most popular cherry blossom spots. In the park you will also find an amusement park, playgrounds and pleasant cycle paths. For those interested in cars, there is a museum with old Japanese cars and if you are there in the summer, there is a pool for the whole family to swim in.

tshirts for sale

SHOPPING

Canal City Hakata is a large shopping complex known as “a city within a city”. A canal runs through the shopping complex creating an airy atmosphere and in the middle of the canal there is a large fountain that has shows every 30 minutes. In addition to its unique design, Canal City is home to 250 shops, restaurants, a gaming center and two hotels. 

Tenjin Chikagai is Fukuoka’s largest underground shopping mall. It stretches for about 600 meters and has 150 different shops with, among other things, fashion, books and technology which are spread over 12 avenues. The floors have European design and the ceilings Arabic design, which together create a pleasant atmosphere.  

small market store

YANAGIBASHI MARKET

A great way to experience the local culture is to visit a food market. We recommend the food market Yanagibashi Market, although it is small in size, it is called Hataka’s kitchen. 

Yanagibashi is known for its fresh seafood, its many food vendors, and fresh local produce. This is where the locals and restaurant owners go to buy their ingredients. Stroll around among the stalls and treat yourself to something good to eat.

beach ocean

SEASIDE MOMOCHI

Seaside Momochi Park is a modern area right on the water and has a lot to offer. Here you will find, among other things, Momochihama Beach, which is an artificial beach and stretches 1km. Around the beach there are restaurants and shops as well as the possibility to rent jet skis, windsurfing and paddle boards.

In Seaside Momochi Park you will also find Marizon, which is located at the far end of a pier and is mainly used for weddings. However, there are some restaurants and shops here. 

Other famous buildings you can find here are Fukuoka Tower, Fukuoka City Museum and Fukuoka Paypay Dome.

ghigh building glass

FUKUOKA TOWER

Climb the Fukuoka Tower and enjoy the magnificent view of the city. The tower is the city’s tallest with its 234 meters above the ground. Visit one of the observation deck’s three floors and look out over the sea and the city, 123 meters above the ground. 

The tower is clad with 8,000 mirrors and is the city’s national symbol. We recommend a visit in the evening to see the sunset from the tower while you enjoy a good dinner in the restaurant located high up in the tower. In the evening, the entire tower is illuminated and is even more beautiful than during the day. You don’t want to miss this!

boat on river

NAKASU

Nakasu Island is a small island in the middle of Fukuoka where the Naka River flows on one side and the Hakata River on the other. It is recommended that you go here in the evening to take part in the happy atmosphere and to experience the neon lights reflected in the canal. Here you will of course also find lots of restaurants and street food stalls with all the local favourites. 

Good to know is that Nakasu is also a red-light district, which means that here you can come across strip clubs, brothels and other adult places. But don’t worry, it’s not something you’ll notice as you walk around unless you’re actively looking for it. 

ramen broth

EAT LOCAL FOOD

Street food (Yatai)  is a must try in Fukouka. You will find these food stalls, called Yatai, along the streets outdoors. Yatais are iconic to the city of Fukuoka and you can find them scattered all over the city but the best place to go is Nakasu Island. There are 20 stalls in a row along the canal. They all offer local favorites such as ramen and motsunabe.

Ramen Stadium  can be found inside Canal City Hakata and has eight ramen restaurants with ramen from all over Japan. If there’s one local dish you should try in Fukuoka, it’s ramen. Fukuoka is famous for its Hakata ramen or Tonkotsu ramen as it is also called. You can find it at most Yatais restaurants or at Ramen Stadium.

red shrine entrance

DAZAIFU TENMANGU

If you have time to spare and want to explore the area outside Fukuoka, we can recommend a visit to Dazaifu. Only 15 km, about 1 hour by bus or train, away from Fukuoka you will find Dazaifu, which is famous for its temple Dazaifu Tenman-gu, which is home to hundreds of plum trees. 

Dazaifu Tenman-gu is 250 meters from Dazaifu Station and the road to the temple from the station is filled with small cozy shops. Once at the temple, you are greeted by a Torii gate that leads you to a pond shaped after the Japanese sign for heart. 

Dazaifu Tenmangu is quite large in size and has two museums,  Dazaifu Tenmangu Museum and Kanko Historical Museum. The first museum is home to all the treasures of the temple and in the second museum you can learn about the history of the temple.

buddha fukuoka

NANZOIN TEMPLE

15 km east of Fukuoka you will find Nanzoin Temple, one of the prefecture’s most visited and also most important temples. It is visited annually by more than one million pilgrims.

What you definitely don’t want to miss and the reason why most tourists go here is the 41 meter long reclining Buddha statue. The massive bronze statue weighs 300 tons and is the largest bronze statue in the world. The statue is longer is the Statue of Liberty in New York.

Beyond the temple and statue, there is a nice walking loop to the picturesque village of Sasaguri. The walking loop is well-marked and along it you come across several smaller statues of Buddha, as well as charming streams, bridges and gardens.

Anything else to know before arrival?

Don’t worry, we got you covered with the most important information below.

Fukuoka Airport is called Fukuoka Airport  ( FUK ), formerly known as Itazuke Air Base. Flygplasten is only 5km from the center of Fukuoka and it takes about 15 minutes by car to get to the center. 

Bus, train and taxi are available at the airport and will take you quickly into town.

You don’t have to worry about holding tight to your valuables or walking around with larger sums of cash. Japanese are a very loyal and well-behaved people with very few thieves and the like. Watching younger children ride the subway by themselves home from school alone is not an uncommon sight to see in Japan. Of course, there are everywhere, but Japan has very few of them.

Order a JR pass if you plan to move to other cities. If you are only going to be in Osaka, you can do well to pay for your transport at a time. But most visitors take a week in Tokyo and then move on to Kyoto, Osaka and other popular cities. These train distances are quite expensive without JR passes, we therefeore recommend getting one before your departure to Japan. Getjrpass.com is an official ravel agent and seller of these Japan Rail Passes with no middle man.

The metro is well-functioning and cheap – a recommended means of transport. Tickets are very easily purchased by machine on site before entering or via pre-loaded Suica card. Most distances are combined with JR lines and Metro lines to reach your destination in the city.

Suica card – a fantastic IC card that can be preloaded with money to easily blip beverage machines, subway and other machines for a cashless and fast payment. Alternative to the card is Icoca Card & Pasmo Card.

Taxis are everywhere, but are quite expensive. The metro is so functional that Taxi is not needed.

The city has lots of beautiful parks. Enjoy good food and take it easy, enjoy your visit to Japan.

Japan uses Japanese Yen – JPY.

We recommend a smaller exchange before the trip at Forex or another currency exchanger to be able to pay for transport from the airport if you have decided to activate your Japan Rail Pass at a later date, for food and drink on site upon arrival and so on.

Safe ATMs for cash withdrawals can be found around the city. You don’t have to worry about walking around with larger amounts of cash as the country is very safe. Of course there are jerks in the country, but Japan has extremely few of them.

7-eleven usually has a very good exchange rate at their machines. When withdrawing larger sums such as thousands of euros, it can differ up to hundreds of euros against what you get at Forex if you exchange before the trip. We therefore recommend only bringing a smaller amount and withdrawing more cash on site.

Do not exchange at the airport. Visit a bank or 7-eleven in town.

Tips are not appreciated by the staff and can sometimes be considered disparaging.

If you want to tip, ask the staff beforehand if it is okay. Most likely, you will get a no, as tips are not part of their everyday life.

Looking for another city?

Visit out other travel guides and explore the fantastic country of Japan. We add new destinations weekly and please, feel free to suggest new destinations to the travel guide if you’ve been in Japan before. We appreciate all the suggestions!

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