Experience the healing power of nature as well as delicious cuisine and tradition on this nature trip through Fukuoka2019.07.18
Fukuoka’s Sawara Ward is the largest in the city and is made up of a number of neighborhoods which all boast unique points of interest of their own. From the Seaside Momochi area, home to sightseeing spots such as the iconic Fukuoka Tower and Fukuoka City Museum, to the Nishijin/Fujisaki area with its bustling shopping district and complete with a number of convenient transportation options and commercial establishments, the Muromi River area famous for ice goby fishing and a popular place to go for a jog or a stroll along the river, to the peaceful residential neighborhoods of the Noke/Kamo area as well as the rich natural beauty of Mt. Sefuri which can be enjoyed year-round from the southern part of Sawara Ward.
Today we are off on a nature trip right here in Fukuoka where we will immerse ourselves in the healing natural beauty and delicious flavors of the southernmost part of Sawara Ward.
Our first stop will be the Nogouchi River Valley, a refreshing oasis popular among those looking to escape the heat of summer, located just a hop, skip and a jump away from the center of Fukuoka.
Measuring some 3.2km in length and complete with a maintained hiking trail, this ravine is a great place to take a relaxing nature walk.
This is the perfect spot to get some light exercise while enjoying the view of the area’s diverse landscape with its waterfalls, deep river waters and natural rocks.
Relax as the healing power of the birds’ song set to the backdrop of the deep green forest together with the negative ions of the gorgeous mountain stream wash over you, healing you inside and out.
In the summertime you can enjoy splashing around in the water and fully experience the wonders of nature’s beauty in this popular spot just as the locals have for years.
「Nogouchi River Valley」
Address: Iiba, Sawara-ku, Fukuoka-shi
How to get there: Take the Nishitetsu bus and get off at the “Magarifuchi” stop, then walk about 15 minutes.
Next up is the Magarifuchi Dam Park, located about a 30-minute walk or 10-minute drive from the Nogouchi River Valley.
This park located inside the Magarifuchi Dam is equipped with ample space for parking as well as a restroom for visitors.
At the foot of the Magarifuchi Dam you will find this lovely park filled with natural greenery and seasonal delights such as cherry blossoms in the spring and the changing autumn leaves in the fall. And if you look up you will get an impressive view of the embankment rising up into the sky.
Gazing out from the dam onto the cherry blossom trees below is also a lovely, healing sight.
This is likewise an ideal spot for birdwatching and, when the weather’s right, makes a fantastic place to pack a picnic lunch and enjoy spending a day just relaxing.
So come and take a leisurely stroll to the tune of the birdsong as it echoes through this peaceful park rich in natural greenery, seasonal cherry blossoms and autumn foliage.
「Magarifuchi Dam Park」
Address: Magarifuchi, Sawara-ku, Fukuoka-shi
How to get there: Take the Nishitetsu bus and get off at the “Magarifuchi” stop, then walk about 15 minutes (Landmark: Regional Cuisine Takiyamasou Restaurant)
The next stop on our adventure through nature is the natural hot springs Yu-sui Sengokunosato, located about a 10-minute drive from Magarifuchi Dam Park.
Yusui Sengokunosato is a natural hot springs which you can enjoy either as part of a day trip or for an overnight stay. From the beautiful view from the large public bath to the delicious buffet made using all natural ingredients, this hot springs offers a relaxing, slow-paced retreat you can enjoy all year round.
Choose from a selection of over 70 different homemade dishes from both Japanese and Western cuisine made using fresh, high-quality ingredients, and finish off your meal with a sweet treat prepared by the hot springs’ very own in-house pastry chef.
After a soak in the hot springs, sit back and relax in this rest area with its chic, youthful interior design.
Souvenirs are also available for purchase from the gift shop.
Take a relaxing soak in the bath while looking out over the extensive panoramic view of Hakata Bay off in the distance. Soak those tired bones from your walk earlier in the day while recharging your mind and body in this mineral-rich, 100% natural hot springs water!
Address: 333-2 Ishigama, Sawara-ku, Fukuoka-shi
How to get there: Take the Nishitetsu bus and get off at the “Yokodai” stop. Once you have gotten off the bus, phone the Sengokunosato and they will send a shuttle to pick you up.
Business hours: Large public bath 10:00am – 10:00pm（Reception closes at 9:00pm）
Next we will stop for lunch at the all-you-can-eat buffet Noka Baikingu Yu, about a 15-minute drive from Yusui Sengokunosato.
Baikingu is Japanese for “all-you-can-eat buffet”, and as its name implies, this restaurant offers a delicious all-you-can-eat buffet. Its diverse buffet selections include dishes made using local produce, chicken dishes using quality Hanamidori chicken, and rice dishes made with rice cultivated by the restaurant owner himself. There is also a selection of desserts and beverages available as well.
Free of additives and artificial flavorings, this is health-conscious cuisine you can even feel confident feeding to your family.
The restaurant itself has a bright, open floor plan with a warm wooden-themed interior. Equipped with nursing facilities and a kids’ play area, the restaurant is also popular among families with children and mother-child gatherings.
Come enjoy some delicious clean cuisine while gazing out at the lovely countryside setting from the warm, welcoming interior of this buffet restaurant.
「Noka Baikingu Yu」
Address: 71-4 Okasagi, Sawara-ku, Fukuoka-shi
How to get there: Take the Nishitetsu bus and get off at the “Sawara Koko-Mae” bus stop, then walk about 17 minutes.
Business hours: 11:00am – 3:00pm
Next we will head to the Kajiwara Hakata Doll Workshop, about a 10-minute walk or 3-minute drive from Noka Baikingu Yu.
Hakata ningyo, or Hakata dolls, have a rich history dating back to over 400 years ago. As the traditional Hakata doll song goes, “When you go to Hakata, even if you are alone on the way there, you will return in the company of a Hakata doll”. These lyrics symbolize how Hakata dolls were once widely known as the most popular local souvenir. Made out of Earthen clay, these figurines are characterized by their use of this soft texture.
The Kajiwara Hakata Doll Workshop is owned by nationally recognized traditional artisan and central figure within the Hakata doll world, Shouji Kajiwara.
At the Kajiwara Hakata Doll Workshop you can experience painting your very own Hakata doll, with a variety of figurines to choose from, including animals such as dogs and cats.
The figurines themselves are made using clay from Mt. Aburayama, located in the southern part of the city of Fukuoka, and the paints used are mixed with binding agents to ensure the vibrant, lasting color of the finished product.
Rest assured that if you have any trouble or if you are not sure what to do while painting, your instructor will by your side at all times to show you what to do.
Come and try making your own never before seen one-of-a-kind Hakata doll!
「Kajiwara Hakata Doll Workshop」
Address: 617-4 Okasagi, Sawara-ku, Fukuoka-shi
How to get there: Take the Nishitetsu bus and get off at the “Sawara Koko-Mae” bus stop, then walk about 7 minutes from there.
Next we will head over to Wakky Suki No Sato, about a 20-minute walk or 3-minute drive from the Kajiwara Hakata Doll Workshop.
Wakky Suki No Sato was established in order to create a space for local Wakiyama farmers to sell their locally-grown products directly to the customer. Run by some 100 local producers (farmers), the shop serves as a place for city dwellers and farmers from the countryside to come together, its customers noting that “the prices are great and the produce fresh”, “it is reassuring to be able to actually see the producers themselves”, and that “it brings the farm closer to the table”.
Once offered in tribute to Emperor Showa, Wakiyama Rice is the area’s famous local product. Cultivated in an environment blessed with pure spring water from Mt. Sefuri as well as a climate characterized by significant variation in temperature from day to night, this top-grade rice is cultivated in the perfect location to give it its widely recognized delicious flavor.
In addition to Wakiyama Rice, the shop offers a selection of over 100 different items including freshly harvested, high-quality fresh vegetables, flowers, bamboo, charcoal, tofu, as well as prepared foods such as Japanese-style pickled vegetables, and even Hakata dolls and patchworks designs.
Some popular items include jams made from local Wakiyama blueberries, apple chips simply bursting with natural sweetness, and local Wakiyama green tea – the Wakiyama region is said to be the oldest green tea producing region in all of Japan!
And the store’s bento lunch boxes, prepared using plenty of fresh local Wakiyama vegetables, are highly popular not only among locals but also among those who come from far away to get their hands on some!
「Wakky Suki No Sato」
Address: 592-1 Wakiyama, Sawara-ku, Fukuoka-shi
How to get there: Take the Nishitetsu bus and get off at “Sawara Koko-Mae”. It is about a 7-minute walk from there.
Store hours: October through March – 8:00am – 4:00pm, April through September – 8:00am – 5:00pm
And last but not least, we will head over to Yamataka Shoyu, located about an 8-minute drive from Wakky Suki No Sato.
Fukuoka is known for its sweet-flavored soy sauce, and located in this rich natural environment blessed with pure, crystalline mountain spring water and fresh clean air is Yamataka Shoyu, a small soy sauce brewery which for over one hundred years has specialized in the manufacture and sale of its rich, flavorful soy sauce crafted using traditional techniques handed down from generation to generation.
A wide variety of products are available for purchase, from traditional authentic soy sauces to unique, innovative flavors. Here you can find anything from sashimi soy sauce, to rich- or mild-flavored soy sauce, mentsuyu (a mixture of dashi, soy sauce, mirin and sugar), dashi-flavored soy sauce, ponzu (soy sauce with citrus juice), butter soy sauce, steak sauce and more, all made using the pure water found down below in the depths of Mt. Sefuri.
In May 2019 Yamataka Shoyu reopened its doors after a renovation project which included the establishment of a small restaurant where you can enjoy Japanese-style set meals (teishoku) as well as unique items that only a soy sauce specialty shop can offer, such as soy sauce pudding and soy sauce cakes.
Gift sets are also available for purchase. An indispensable item for any kitchen, soy sauce is sure to be a welcome gift.
Address: 2-18-7 Higashiirube, Sawara-ku, Fukuoka-shi
Store hours: 10am – 6:00pm
Despite being the largest urban center on the island of Kyushu, Fukuoka is known for its seamless blend of urban convenience and natural beauty. You need not venture far from the city center to see the city’s own natural beauty unfold before your eyes.
So come and experience the local tradition of the area while enjoying healthy local foods enriched with the heart and soul of the local people, relaxing and healing your mind and body amidst the natural landscapes and therapeutic negative ions of the river valley, and going for a dip in the luxurious natural hot springs, all just moments away from downtown on this nature trip through the city of Fukuoka!