Is Fukuoka worth visiting? Find out what it has to offer

Are you tired of your chaotic city life but cannot relinquish its perks? No worries—you can always visit Fukuoka to recharge!

Fukuoka has all the amenities and comforts of life the modern world offers.

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But is Fukuoka worth visiting? 

Of course! Let us check out why you should visit Fukuoka, what to do when you get there, and what sets it apart from other cities in Japan.

Twilight cityscape with illuminated buildings and a curved overpass.

Where is Fukuoka?

Before we get to the exciting part, where I enumerate what’s in store for you when you get to Fukuoka, let’s first orient ourselves on the map of Japan.

Fukuoka, nestled in the south of Japan, is a bustling city within the Fukuoka Prefecture, hugged by the scenic Hakata Bay. As Japan’s second-largest port city, following Yokohama, it ranks sixth in overall size.

Its prime location and proximity to the Asian mainland have transformed Fukuoka into a vital hub for international trade and a gateway to Japan. This fusion of cultures has given rise to a unique local vibe, complete with its distinct dialect.

Fukuoka is approximately 1,100 kilometers southwest of the capital for those wondering about the journey from Tokyo. 

If you’re considering the train, the high-speed Shinkansen takes around 5 to 6 hours and offers a scenic route through Japan’s diverse landscapes. 

What differentiates Fukuoka?

Unlike other cities like Tokyo, Fukuoka is unique because it is laid-back. Although it is a populous city and a popular tourist spot on the island of Kyushu, Fukuoka City can be enjoyed at a slower pace.

This bustling metropolitan is excellent for tourists looking to enjoy great spots and partake in the local culture without rushing to their next adventure. 

Moreover, even if it offers a traditional Japanese lifestyle, this vibrant city offers modern amenities like big malls, fine-dining restaurants, and incredible art museums.

Don’t forget the beautiful beaches, lively nightlife, and innovative culture that allows locals and tourists alike to use technology to make life easier.

Moreover, unlike other cities that have traded the environment for technological advancement, Fukuoka has focused on sustainable urbanism and built the city with conservation in mind. 

Fukuoka City has set an example for the living that leaves a minimal carbon footprint and is bent on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. 

It is also deeply involved with the innovation of microclimate control by incorporating greeneries into city structures. 

Furthermore, Fukuoka City advocates sustainable tourism, where tourism activities do not negatively impact the environment. The city also implements numerous waste management and water treatment initiatives to promote sustainability. 

Curved bridge leading to a lush green island in a calm lake.

Where to go when visiting Fukuoka

Fukuoka in Kyushu has many things to offer to different types of travelers. From parks to shrines, malls, and yakai or street food stalls, you will never run out of options and things to do that will take your breath away. 

Here are great places to visit on your trip to Fukuoka:

Maizuru Park

Let me share my delightful experience visiting Maizuru Park in Fukuoka!

This park is a hidden gem just a short walk from downtown Fukuoka. It’s built around the remnants of Fukuoka Castle, giving it a unique historical charm.

Constructed in the early 17th century by the esteemed lord Kuroda Nagamasa, the castle was once the largest fortress in Kyushu, commanding respect and admiration from all who saw it.

As I wandered around, I couldn’t help but imagine the castle’s grandeur in its heyday. Despite the centuries that have passed, the Fukuoka Castle ruins still stand tall, telling tales of a bygone era.

What I loved most was visiting during cherry blossom season. In spring, the park transforms into a dreamy pink wonderland. I went on a stroll along a mesmerizing tunnel of flowers. It was magical!

But it’s not just about history and nature here. The park has sports facilities, and Ohori Park and the Fukuoka City Art Museum are nearby. There’s no shortage of cultural experiences to be had. It has something for everyone to enjoy.

Ohori Park

If you want to stroll while enjoying the beauty of calming water scenery, Ohori Park is a great place to visit.

The park is in central Fukuoka and features a large pond in its center that used to be the outer moat of the Fukuoka Castle. It was designed after China’s classical garden, West Lake. 

Ohori Park is a registered monument in Japan and is home to pine trees that date back to its 1925 construction. 

Though the park is a fantastic spot to visit during summer and spring because of its beautiful flower beds filled with magnolias, tulips, and sunflowers, it is especially outstanding from November to March when hundreds of migratory winter birds from Siberia visit.

Locals and foreigners can freely access the park, which is excellent to include in your day trip itinerary.

Kushida Shrine

Founded in 757, the Kushida Shrine in Fukuoka, is an important Shinto shrine in Japan. It houses the guardian deity of Hakata.

The best time to visit the Kushida Shrine is during summer when the Hakata Gion Yamakasa and Hakata Okunchi festivals are held. 

When visiting, make sure to sip water from the well surrounded by three cranes, which is said to grant eternal youth. Note of caution: the water in this well contains natural salts, so you should not drink too much of it. 

You’ll see religious stationary festival floats you can pray to for protection and peace during the celebrations. 

Remember to check your luck this year with the Eto Eho Ban, which features the four cardinal directions and the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac. It is located by the entrance gate and is hard to miss. 

You can visit for free from 4 AM to 10 PM any day of the week. 

Dazaifu Tenmangu

Dazaifu Tenmangu is a beautiful place dedicated to Sugawara no Michizane, the learning and school success patron saint.

It is located just a short distance from downtown Fukuoka, making it relatively easy to reach. From the city center, you can take a train or bus to Dazaifu Station, and from there, it’s about a 10-minute walk to the shrine.

Depending on your mode of transportation, the journey from Fukuoka city center to Dazaifu takes around 30-40 minutes.

When I first arrived, I was struck by its serene atmosphere and beautiful surroundings. The architecture, with intricate wooden carvings and elegant rooflines, was awe-inspiring. As I explored further, I discovered many exciting things, from beautiful gardens to hidden shrines and statues.

One of the highlights of my visit was participating in some of the shrine’s rituals and ceremonies. Visitors can purchase small wooden plaques called ema and write their wishes on them, which are then hung up at the shrine. 

Special prayer services are also held throughout the day, during which you can offer prayers and offerings to the deity.

The best time to visit the Tenmangu shrine is during the spring and autumn months when the weather is mild, and the cherry blossoms or fall foliage are in full bloom. However, the shrine is open year-round and beautiful to visit anytime.

Fukuoka Tower

Considered the most popular tourist spot in Fukuoka and Japan’s tallest seaside tower, Fukuoka Tower is 234 meters (768 ft) tall and covered in 8,000 half-mirrors that reflect the sky. 

It boasts an observation deck that offers 360° views of the city and Hakata Bay. Enjoy 

Fukuoka Tower is open daily from 9:30 AM to 10 PM. 

Cityscape at night with illuminated buildings and a prominent tower.

Places to visit and things to do in Fukuoka

If you still have time during your stay, try visiting these places before leaving for Tokyo or Kyoto and Osaka base:

  • teamLab Forest
  • Chikuzen Sumiyoshi
  • Canal City Hakata
  • Tenjin Chikagai

Don’t forget to eat yakitori, hot pot, and Hakata ramen served at the iconic late-night yatai food stalls to complete your Fukuoka experience. 

Night market stalls with red lanterns and plastic sheeting.

My Ramen and Motsunabe Journey when visiting Fukuoka

Besides my wonderful experience visiting the shrines and other temples in Fukuoka, I loved the divine food scene most during my stay.

If you are a food like me, here are my personal recommendations for the best spots to relish the ramen and motsunabe:

Hakata Ramen

Ippudo

Trust me, you can’t go wrong with Ippudo. It is just a short distance from Hakata Station. 

It’s a Fukuoka-born chain, and their tonkatsu ramen is a flavor explosion. Ippudo’s tonkatsu ramen boasts a signature broth that is rich and creamy and has a depth of flavor that sets it apart.

What I love about Ippudo is the option to customize toppings. From extra chashu to spicy miso paste, you can tailor your bowl to your liking.

Ichiraku

Wander into Nakasu, and you’ll find Ichiraku, a gem that exudes local charm. The intimate setting and the chef’s attention to detail in every bowl make it a standout choice.

The thin noodles at Ichiraku are a game-changer. They have the ideal texture and hold onto the broth just right. Plus, the atmosphere adds that extra something to the ramen experience.

Shin Shin

For a more traditional vibe, Shin Shin is the spot. With an ambiance that transports you to the heart of traditional Hakata, it’s the place to savor ramen in an authentic setting.

They keep it simple, focusing on nailing the broth and noodles. It’s a classic Hakata ramen joint.

Motsunabe

Yamanaka

When I crave motsunabe, my go-to is Yamanaka. The mastery of preparing this dish is evident; various options allow me to explore the full spectrum of flavors.

They specialize in this dish, offering various options to suit your preferences. 

The emphasis on fresh, quality ingredients sets Yamanaka apart. It’s a place where each bite feels like a celebration of local produce.

Sakamotoya

In Nakasu, Sakamotoya is a cozy spot celebrated for its motsunabe. Its cozy atmosphere adds warmth to the hearty dishes. It’s a place to unwind and savor the meal at your own pace.

Fresh ingredients and a delightful broth make it a local favorite. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed.

Hakata Motsunabe Senmonten Yoshizuka

If you find yourself near Yoshizuka station, don’t miss this gem. 

They’re all about quality and variety, serving an authentic motsunabe experience. Whether you prefer spicy, with extra veggies, or a mix of different meats, they’ve got you covered.

To make it even better, I can attest their attention to quality. From the selection of meats to the balance of flavors in the broth, each element reflects a commitment to excellence.

Pro tip: Check the opening hours and consider snagging a reservation, especially during peak times. You don’t want to miss out on these culinary delights in Fukuoka.