11 Must-Have Experiences in Fukuoka2019.01.31
The growing political, economic and cultural center of Kyushu, the city of Fukuoka (Hakata) is often considered the most dynamic city in Japan!
In addition to the city’s culinary offerings which continue to fascinate visitors from both throughout Japan and worldwide, its many opportunities to experience traditional culture, as well as its rich natural landscapes, the city was also named the number one shopping destination by UK magazine Monacle. There are truly a wealth of reasons why Fukuoka is worth paying a visit.
In addition, with main transportation hubs Fukuoka International Airport, Hakata Station, and Hakata Port International Terminal all within an area of 2.5 kilometers in diameter, it is one of the world’s most prominent compact cities. In Fukuoka, cuisine, tourism, and shopping are all easily within reach.
Now we would like to introduce the 11 experiences you simply cannot miss while in Fukuoka, whether it is your first time visiting or your second or third time or more!
Yatai are mobile food and drink stands.
As the sun sets for the evening, these yatai begin to pop up all over the city’s streets with their bright lights and shop curtains for a lively, dynamic sight you will only find in Fukuoka.
Concentrated primarily in the Tenjin, Nakasu, and Nagahama areas, you can find yatai offering a wide variety of cuisines and alcoholic beverages, such as Hakata’s famous tonkotsu (pork-bone broth) ramen, oden (variety of foods in hot broth often consumed in winter), gyoza (Chinese dumplings), tempura, as well as original dishes.
Yatai create the perfect atmosphere for socializing with shopkeepers, regular customers, and fellow travelers alike. Check out yatai to get to know the warm-hearted nature of the locals and feel like a local yourself!
Thanks to its coastal location, the city of Fukuoka is known for its delicious fish. At the Nagahama Fish Market you will find freshly-caught fish from the plentiful fishing waters of the Genkai Sea, the Sea of Japan and the East China Sea. This leading fish market draws customers from all over Kyushu and even Western Japan.
Among the variety of seafood that can be found there, the sushi made from the lean meat of fish caught in the rough waters of the Genkai Sea is exquisite. Be sure to compare the different flavors of the many kinds of fresh sushi available!
Mizutaki is a kind of hot pot (nabemono) made by simmering chunks of chicken meat and vegetables together in a thick chicken broth.
The umami flavors from the chicken meat and variety of vegetables are what really make this mouth-watering delicious hot pot dish.
Fukuoka is famous for a great many local specialties, but mizutaki is perhaps the most representative of the many dishes for which the city is known.
There are countless mizutaki restaurants throughout the city, ranging from the well-established to the newest popular spots. Discovering your favorite mizutaki restaurant is yet another part of enjoying this local favorite.
When preparing mizutaki at home, it is common to purchase the broth from shops specializing in mizutaki, and mizutaki sets from well-known shops make a popular gift. The broth can also be found at supermarkets throughout the city of Fukuoka. Hot pot dishes are typically enjoyed during the cold winter months, but in Fukuoka you can enjoy delicious mizutaki year-round.
Large bite-sized pieces of chicken meat are arranged on skewers and flame-grilled (spit-roasted) in yakitori (grilled chicken skewers), one of Fukuoka’s best-known specialties which has been loved by locals of all ages for generations.
At a typical yakitori restaurant in Fukuoka you will first be served a heaping plate of cabbage drizzled with tare sauce, usually before you even place your order.
Once your yakitori order is ready, the skewers of grilled chicken will be served atop this bed of cabbage. Serving customers cabbage free of charge in this way is a custom unique to Fukuoka.
Despite what is implied by the name yakitori (grilled chicken), this dish encompasses a wide variety of foods skewered and flame-grilled. In Fukuoka, there really isn’t any difference between yakitori and skewers in general, with yakitori varieties ranging from chicken, beef, pork, vegetables and seafood, all arranged and grilled on a skewer.
You can find a wide variety of yakitori restaurants throughout the city, from traditional establishments known and loved by local customers, as well as yatai (food stalls), restaurants popular among female customers, fine-dining yakitori establishments, restaurants serving chicken sashimi as well as those serving more uncommon cuts of meat.
<Fukuoka Open Top Bus>
Fukuoka is known for its bus culture, thanks to the never-ending flow of buses transporting the city’s residents to and from just about every corner of town. Fukuoka Open Top Bus is an open-air double-decker bus which will take you on a guided tour of the city’s main tourist attractions.
Take a tour around the city known as the gateway to Asia, including its major tourist spots as well as the Tenjin, Hakata and Seaside Momochi areas. With a great view of the city’s various landscapes from atop this 3.2 meter-tall bus both day and night, the bus ride is practically a tourist attraction in and of itself.
In addition, this tour bus is a great deal as guests can also use their Open Top Bus ticket to ride Nishitetsu buses within the “Central Fukuoka Free Area” free of charge.
The Fukuoka Open Top Bus is a great option for first-time visitors, allowing you to visit all the city’s major attractions and discover your own personal favorite spots.
FUKUOKA OPEN TOP BUS
<Hakata Old Town>
Within walking distance of bustling Hakata Station is Hakata Old Town, home to a number of temples and shrines as well as an urban landscape reminiscent of the days of yesteryear.
The Hakata Old Town area once flourished as the most prominent port city of Medieval Japan and boasts a wealth of history, traditions, and culture originating in the Middle Ages and preserved to this very day.
Hakata Sennen-no Mon
- Hakata Area
Hakata Sennen-no Mon is a welcome gate to lead tourists visiting Hakata to the temple town area where many historic cultural assets are still remained.Local residents, local businesses and the local government who wish the prosperity of Hakata have come and work all together to build up the gate, a…
- Nakasu-Kawabata Area
This grand tutelary shrine of Hakata is widely known and people warmly refer to it as “Okushida-san.” It is dedicated to the gods of Ohatanushi-no-mikoto, Amaterasu-omikami and Susanowo-no-mikoto. According to tradition, in 757, when Emperor Koken was in the reign and Tairano Kiyomori designated …
Enjoy a stroll around the calm atmosphere of the area’s streets lined with history-rich shrines and temples as well as the lively commercial streets of the Kawabata Shopping Arcade.
To experience the traditional culture, crafts and performing arts of Hakata, visit the Hakatamachiya Furusatokan, the Hakata Traditional Craft and Design Museum and the Hakata Traditional Performing Arts Centre.
You can also try your hand at traditional Hakata doll painting and wearing a traditional kimono. The Hakata Old Town area is just the place to gain a deeper perspective of the city of Fukuoka.
Hakata Machiya Folk Museum
- Nakasu-Kawabata Area
If you come to Hakata, why not learning about Hakata culture? This museum shows the old daily life and culture of Fukuoka city in Meiji and Taisho period, focusing especially on urban houses of that period. It is located across from the Kushida-shrine. The exhibition hall features the local traditi…
Experience the mysteries and the wealth of medieval history of the Hakata Old Town area for an experience that will remain in your heart and memories for years to come.
<Seaside Momochi Area>
The Seaside Momochi area is home to a number of the city’s famous landmarks such as the Fukuoka Tower, the Fukuoka City Museum, the Yahuoku Dome, as well as the MARK IS Fukuoka, a large-scale shopping mall which recently opened in November 2018.
Momochi Seaside Park
- Momochi , Sawara Area
This is a park with an artificial beach north of Fukuoka Tower. It is close to such landmarks as the public library, public museum and Yafuoku! Dome. In the middle of the beach is also a bridal shop and restaurants (Marizon area). The beach is suitable for beach sports such as beach volleyball, soc…
Fukuoka City Museum
- Momochi , Sawara Area
Located in the Seaside Momochi Area, this museum is one of the famous tourist spots of Fukuoka City such as Fukuoka Tower and Pay Pay Dome gathers. It introduces the history and the life of people in Fukuoka, which has developed as a hub of international exchanges in the Asian Region since ancient …
Conveniently located some 15-20 minutes from downtown via bus or subway, the Seaside Momochi area is a great place to take a break from your travels or just to take a relaxing stroll, and is even known as a popular date spot.
- Momochi , Sawara Area
This tower of 234 meters above sea level is the tallest beach tower in Japan. This symbolic building of Fukuoka's western subcenter, covered by as many as 8000 half-mirrors and boasting a sharp appearance with its triangular structure, is known by the name of Mirror Sail. The panoramic view of Fuku…
At 234 meters tall, Fukuoka Tower is the tallest seaside tower in Japan and has a 123-meter tall observation deck where you can take in a spectacular panoramic view of the city of Fukuoka.
The tower is also lit up at night in different colors which vary by season. Also in the area is the Yahuoku Dome, home stadium to the city’s local professional baseball team, the Fukuoka Soft Bank Hawks. In addition to baseball games, the stadium also holds concerts and a variety of other sporting events throughout the year attracting a great number of visitors every year.
Combining leisure, shopping, and cultural activities with the beauty of nature, the Seaside Momochi area has something for everyone, from families to couples.
*Fukuoka Open Top Bus also offers a tour of the Seaside Momochi area.
<Shikanoshima and Nokonoshima>
Near the Fukuoka city center are a number of destinations just filled with natural beauty which are perfect for a short day-trip. Two such spots are the outlying islands Nokonoshima, located just a 10-minute ferry ride away from the city, and Shikanoshima, a unique island accessible from Fukuoka via land
Located just a 10-minute ferry ride from Nishi Ward’s Meinohama Noko Tosenba passenger ferry terminal is Nokonoshima, an island which stretches out for 12 kilometers in the Hakata Bay. This island is a popular spot to go swimming during the summer months and is home to an abundance of spectacular natural scenery including beautiful beaches and seasonal trees and flowers.
The island is also rich in historical landmarks such as the Sota Kofun-gun tombs which are believed to have been built around the 7th century, the “Shishigaki”, a relic of the Edo period deer-hunting grounds, as well as other places of historical significance such as the sites where the ancient Sakimori were once stationed and historical sites referenced in the Manyoshu (Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves) anthology of poetry.
Nokonoshima Island Park is a famous spot for viewing the flowers of the season in bloom. Come see the different flowers in bloom during each of the four seasons, with rapeseed flowers in the spring, sunflowers in the summer, cosmos in the fall, and daffodils in the winter.
Escape the hustle and bustle of the city and heal your heart and soul on the island of Nokonoshima. Come and enjoy all the natural scenery and history-rich sites the island has to offer to the fullest.
Next up is Shikanoshima, an island located at the mouth of Hakata Bay. The island is famous for being the site where the golden seal “kin-in”, a national treasure of Japan, was discovered.
*The kin-in is on display in the Fukuoka City Museum’s permanent exhibition space.
Shikanoshima is accessible either by land via car, train or bus from Uminonakamichi (which connects Shikanoshima to the mainland via sandbar) or by sea from Hakata Wharf. No matter which way you choose, the island is easily accessible from the city of Fukuoka.
In addition to its picturesque natural scenery, the island likewise charms its visitors with a variety of restaurants and cafes offering fresh seafood and natural hot springs resorts which are available to both overnight guests and daytime visitors alike.
Kyukamura Shikanoshima Hotel
- East Area
Shikanoshima resides at the tip of Uminonakamichi that stretches through Hakata bay. It is a green small island surrounded all around by the white coast line. In front of the beach is Kyukamura, which boasts a fantastic sunset of the Genkai Sea. In 2006, it went under a renewal and all the rooms no…
We recommend that first-time visitors rent a bicycle to tour the island. Just 12 kilometers in circumference, the course around the outer edges of the island is quite flat and makes for a refreshing cycling route. At sunset you can enjoy watching the sky and sea as they gradually turn from blue to orange in color.
Feel the pleasant sea breeze while touring the island of Shikanoshima by car or bicycle for the perfect little getaway.
<Tenjin Chikagai Underground Shopping Mall>
Extending 590 meters North-South and 43 meters in width, with a surface area of 53,300 square meters is the Tenjin Chikagai, a surprisingly extensive underground shopping mall.
Its iron, brick and stone theme was inspired by the refined atmosphere of 19th century Europe. Known and loved by the locals as simply the “tenchika”, this shopping center is home to some 150 businesses including shops and restaurants.
With direct access to several subway stations, it is bustling with the coming and going of passengers every single day. Most of the major buildings of the Tenjin area can be accessed directly from the Chikagai as well.
The Tenjin Chikagai is popular among tourists not only for its impressive size, but also for its unique atmosphere.
Tenjin Chikagai （Tenjin Underground Shopping Mall）
- Tenjin/Yakuin Area
This is the largest underground shopping area in Kyushu, built underground of Tenjin, stretching for 590 meters from the north to south of the downtown area. There are 12 avenues with 150 various shops of fashion, gourmet, books and more. 19th century European style flagstone floors and arabesque d…
<Kawabata Shopping Arcade>
Located in the Hakata Old Town area, the Kawabata Shopping Arcade with its more than 130 years of history is the oldest shopping arcade in the city of Fukuoka/Hakata.
Extending for 400 meters in length and housing more than 130 businesses, from age-old establishments to newly opened shops selling everything from traditional handicrafts to souvenirs to clothing, its wide variety of dining establishments and specialty shops are thriving and open for business daily.
In the heart of the downtown business district and surrounded by office buildings, take just one step into this shopping arcade and you will be transported to the Japan of times past that attracts foreign tourists with its nostalgic traditional atmosphere.
Its shopping streets are covered as well, so you can have a pleasant time enjoying shopping even on rainy days.
Kawabata Shopping Arcade
- Nakasu-Kawabata Area
Hakata’s oldest shopping street has about 130 shops lining a 400-meter long arcade. This is the standard Hakata walking course, featuring gift shops selling traditional Hakata ningyo dolls and other items, shops specialized in Yamakasa goods, stores that offer products from the Genkai-nada sea, and…
Located near the entrance to the shopping arcade (Nakasu-Kawabata Subway Station side) is the Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, the only museum of its kind in the world which systematically collects and exhibits Asian modern and contemporary art, so definitely check it out while you are in the area!
Fukuoka Asian Art Museum
- Nakasu-Kawabata Area
You can enjoy looking at contemporary art works from all Asia here at Hakata Riverain! The museum exhibits 2,900 art pieces collected from 23 different countries and regions in Asia. Not only exhibitions but also workshops by the artists invited from Asian countries are held. The souvenir shop at t…
<Canal City Hakata>
Right in the middle of Fukuoka’s two major commercial hubs, Hakata and Tenjin, is a large-scale shopping center called Canal City Hakata. This shopping complex, complete with a wide variety of dining establishments, shopping, a cinema, a theater, leisure facilities, and even a hotel, combines many different kinds of businesses in one location.
With its many entertainment offerings, it is impossible to get bored at Canal City, which is why the shopping complex is even popular among foreign tourists as well.
The building has a colorful curved design with an approximately 180-meter canal flowing through the center. In the center of the canal are a series of water fountains which announce the passage of time with their dynamic water fountain shows.
Adjacent to the canal is a stage where musical performances and events are held daily. This shopping complex, always bustling with activity, is truly a complete entertainment city where everyone can get together, relax, and have fun.
CANAL CITY HAKATA
- Hakata Area
This commercial complex is built around an artificial canal and consists of hotels, theater, movie theater, shops, restaurants, specialty stores and showrooms. Besides the fountain show and other events held every day, you will never have a chance of getting bored with shopping, gourmet and various…
The city of Fukuoka is drawing the attention of tourists from both within Japan and abroad with its abundant charm. A city which draws you in from the very first time you set foot in it, it is no wonder the number of repeat visitors is on the rise. Both the gateway to Asia and the central hub of Kyushu, it is easily accessible and makes a convenient starting point for a number of other travel destinations as well.
See, experience, taste, and get to know Fukuoka and its people. Whether it is your first time here or you are coming back for more, be sure to make time for these 11 must-have experiences for an even more complete Fukuoka experience!