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What To Do In Fukuoka – A 1-Day Fukuoka Itinerary

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Are you planning to visit Fukuoka? Maybe to see the Sumo Grand Tournament? Here we give you our Fukuoka travel guide including a detailed step-by-step Fukuoka itinerary and a list of what to do in Fukuoka. This article covers all of Fukuoka’s major attractions and sights which can be done in one day.

Fukuoka is one of Japan’s largest cities, but it’s seldom a part of most japan travel itineraries as it not one of the most famous Japanese cities. However, every November, things change. For a week Fukuoka is thrust into the nation’s spotlight and visitors flock to the city as Fukuoka hosts one of Japan’s six Sumo Grand tournaments.

We’d never experienced a sumo tournament live before, and so with our sumo tickets booked, we set off to explore Fukuoka. We didn’t know much about the city and had no real expectations, but we quickly discovered that Fukuoka has a lot more to offer visitors besides just the Sumo wrestling.

Here we give you our Fukuoka travel guide with what to do in Fukuoka packed with all the highlights, including the main attractions, where to stay, festivals, restaurants, and transportation.

Sumo grand tournament Fukuoka
The Grand Sumo tournament was the main reason why we visited Fukuoka in November

Fukuoka is a modern metropolitan city with a rich history. It has ancient temples and shrines, beaches, big parks, warm and sunny weather, modern shopping malls, and friendly and welcoming people. The city is well known for its unique Japanese music J-pop scene, and the hugely popular J-pop group HKT48 is from Fukuoka and they have their own theater here at Nishitetsu Hall.

Fukuoka is famous for its street stall dining, called Yatai. These hawker-style food carts serve up delicious Japanese specialties and are surrounded by seats and tables where you can sit down and enjoy the food while chatting with the locals. Fukuoka apparently has over 100 Yatai food stalls on the street pavements and canal shores, which is more than the rest of Japan in total!

Ichiran restaurant Fukuoka
Me enjoying the specialty of Fukuoka – Ramen noodle soup, at Ichiran restaurant

Other Fukuoka attractions include the SoftBank Hawks baseball team, one of Japan’s best baseball teams, and its hearty Hakata-style ramen (noodle soup dish).

Praying Kushida Shrine Fukuoka
Fukuoka has lots of beautiful shrines and temples, like Kushida Shrine.

Fukuoka Travel Guide

In this article, we give you our ultimate Fukuoka travel guide, with all of Fukuoka’s top attractions and sights organized into a 1-day Fukuoka itinerary.


A Brief History Of Fukuoka

Fukuoka has a long history going back over 2000 years and is made up of two former towns; the castle town Fukuoka and the merchant town Hakata. The east part of today’s Fukuoka, Hakata, is one of the oldest cities in Japan. During the Middle Ages (5th to the late 15th century), Hakata was an important merchant port trading with Korea and China. It burned down several times because of wars, including during the Mongol invasions (1274-1281).

In the early Edo period (1603 – 1868), lord Kuroda Nagamasa built and lived in Fukuoka Castle together with his samurai soldiers.

The two neighboring towns Hakata and Fukuoka merged into one in 1889, and the city got the official name Fukuoka.

Evidence of Fukuoka’s close ties with the Chinese can be seen today in the city’s Chinatown district, which is the oldest in Japan.

Today Fukuoka is the biggest city on Kyushu island and is growing fast. With over 1,5 million people, it has recently passed Kyoto and Kobe to become Japan’s sixth-largest city.


What To Do In Fukuoka –
The Ultimate Fukuoka Itinerary


The map above: Main attractions in Fukuoka. Purple = On this Fukuoka itinerary, Black = Other things to see and do in Fukuoka.

Fukuoka can be divided into three areas:

  1. Hakata area
    Fukuoka’s, old downtown, lies between the two rivers Mikasa and Naka. Here you find the remains of several old traditional shrines and temples, gardens, and museums. The main railway station of Fukuoka – JR Hakata Station is also here.
  2. Tenjin area
    Three subway stops southwest from the Hakata area, just across Naka River, is the modern downtown of Fukuoka – Tenjin area. Here you find shopping malls, restaurants, cafes, pubs, and nightlife.
  3. Daimyo area
    West of Tenjin area, you will find Fukuokas’s answer to Tokyo’s Harajuku – the trendy Daimyo area. Here you find the remains of Fukuoka’s old castle ruins, now a huge park.

Although Fukuoka is a big metropolitan city, its main attractions are not that many and are within easy reach of each other and can be explored by walking or subway. You can easily do this itinerary in one day. If you have more than one day in Fukuoka, see the section “Other Things To Do In Fukuoka.”

Here is an overview of our recommended 1-Day Fukuoka itinerary:

Morning:
Hakata Area – Around JR Hakata Railway Station
A. Hakata Sennen-Mon Gate
B. Jotenji Temple
C. Tochoji Temple
D. Shofukuji Temple
E. Hakata Machiya Furusatokan Folk Museum
F. Kushida Shrine

Afternoon & Evening:
Tenjin Area & Daimyo Area – Downtown Of Fukuoka
G. Fukuoka Castle Ruins/ Maizuru Park
H. Ohori Park Japanese Garden
I. Fukuoka City Museum
J. Fukuoka Tower

We hope you find this travel itinerary helpful when planning your trip. Have fun! ♥

Fukuoka Guided Tours

To fully learn about the culture and history of Fukuoka, and make the most out of your time in Fukuoka, you should consider booking one of these Fukuoka guided tours:

The “Full-Day Hakata Walking Tour” is the ultimate Fukuoka tour that takes you to many of the same places that we have on our itinerary. You will visit Tochoji Temple, Kushida Shrine, Hakata Machiya Furusatokan Folk Museum, Fukuoka Castle Ruins, and Ohori Park. An English-speaking licensed local guide will show you the main attractions of Fukuoka on this 7-hour tour (starts at 09:00 am). The tour ends with a visit to Hakata’s only remaining Sake brewery, Ishikura Brewery Hyakunengura, established in the early Meiji Period (1868 – 1877).
Click here for the latest prices and availability

The “Fukuoka Private Full-Day Guided Tour” is a flexible 8-hour tour with a local guide that takes you to the highlights of Fukuoka, like Ohori Park, local shopping, Tochoji Temple, and Kushida Shrine. The tour ends with dinner in one of Fukuoka’s famous street food stall/ Yatai areas. The English-speaking licensed local guide will personalize the tour based on your interests so that you make the most of your time in Fukuoka. You choose when you want to start the tour.
Click here for the latest prices and availability

If 7-8 hours is a bit much for you, this “Fukuoka Private Walking Tour With Local Guide” makes you choose between a 4 or 6 hours guided tour. The English-speaking licensed local guide will meet you at your hotel, and show you the highlights of Fukuoka and Hakata based on your interests and what you want to see.
Click here for the latest prices and availability

On the “Fukuoka: Personalized Experience With A Local” tour you and your guide choose what you want to see and do in Fukuoka based on your interest. You can personalize the tour to 2, 4, 6, or 8 hours depending on your time in the city.
Click here for the latest prices and availability


1-Day Fukuoka Itinerary

Temples & Shrines, Museums, Japanese Garden &
Fukuoka Tower


The map above: Fukuoka 1-day Itinerary (A – J). 

Start your first day in Fukuoka in the oldtown of Fukuoka – Hakata area. This area houses several beautiful temples, shrines, and a folk museum of traditional Japanese townhouses.

The Hakata area used to be a town on its own, the port town of Hakata. Hakata town was merged with its neighboring castle town of Fukuoka in 1889 and renamed Fukuoka city. The main railway station of Fukuoka is located in Hakata – JR Hakata Station.

Your DIY Fukuoka walking tour starts at Hakata Sennen-no-Mon Gate (A). You can walk here from Hakata Station in 8 min (600 m) or take the subway to Gion Station (one stop from Hakata Station). Sennen-no-Mon Gate is only a 4-min walk from Gion Subway Station. Walking time: 4 or 8 min. 

A. Hakata Sennen-no-Mon Gate

Hakata Sennen-no-Mon Gate is an entrance gate leading to the old Hakata area and its temples and shrines. As soon as you see this huge gate, you know you have come to the right place and are now entering the old shrines and temple area.

Hakata Sennen-no-mon Gate Fukuoka
Hakata Sennen-no-mon Gate Fukuoka is the entrance gate to the old temple and shrine area of Fukuoka.

Hakata Sennen-no-Mon Gate is a fairly new piece, completed in 2014. It is approximately 8 m tall. Its name roughly translated means “prosperity for a thousand years in the future of Fukuoka city“.

Apparently, according to old historical records, there used to be an entrance to Hakata; the gate was called Tsujidoguchi-mon Gate. This new Sennen-no-Mon Gate is inspired by this old gate and is made from old camphor trees donated from Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine. Traditional patterns of Hakata-ori textile inspire the gate’s carvings. It sure is a beautiful entrance gate to a wonderful area of Fukuoka!

From Hakata Sennen-no-Mon Gate (A), you can see Jotenji Temple (B). Just walk across the street Jotenji-Dori Avenue, and you are at Jotenji Temple. Walking time: 1 min. 

B. Jotenji Temple

  • Estimated visiting time: 15 min. 

Jotenji Buddhist temple, established in 1242, has a fantastic Japanese sand garden.

Beautiful sand garden at Jotenji Temple Fukuoka
The highlight of Jotenji Temple is its beautiful sand garden.

Jotenji Temple was founded by Enni-Ben’en, who went to China in 1235 and learned Zen Buddhism before returning home to Japan in 1241.

He had also learned other skills in China, which he brought with him back home, like how to make udon (thick white noodles made from wheat flour), soba (thin noodles made from buckwheat), yokan (sweets/ wagashi made of red bean paste, agar, and sugar), and Manju (sweets). You will see a stone monument at the temple ground for the birth of Udon and Soba.

The temple’s Buddhist statues date back to the Kamakura period (1192 – 1333), while the big copper bell is from Korea. They are both designated as important Japanese national properties.

Jotenji Temple in Fukuoka
Jotenji Temple was established in 1242.

From Jotenji Temple (B), walk across Kokutai-Doro Avenue and Tochoji Temple (C). Walking time: 3 min. 

C. Tochoji Temple – The Great Buddha Of Fukuoka

  • Estimated visiting time: 20-30 min. 

Tocho-Ji Temple is the oldest Shingon Buddhist temple on Kyushu Island, founded in 806. The temple has some beautiful wooden buildings and a fantastic bright red and shiny 5 story pagoda.

Big Buddha Tochoji Temple Fukuoka
The beautiful pagoda at Tochoji Temple

But the real star at Tocho-Ji Temple is the gigantic Buddha statue Fukuoka Daibutsu. This is Japan’s third-biggest seated Buddha statue, after Daibutsu of Nara and Daibutsu of Kamakura, with a height of 10,8 meters and a weight of 30 tons. The carving of the statue took four years to complete, completed in 1993.

Big Buddha Tochoji Temple Fukuoka
The star of Tochoji Temple is the huge wooden Great Buddha, 10,8 m tall.

Look behind the Buddha statue, and you will see a ring of light carved with lots of Buddha images. Next to the statue, you find the treasure exhibition hall.

The hexagonal/ Rokkaku-do building of this temple which houses six Buddha statues is only open to the public on the 28th of each month, so we were, unfortunately, unable to go inside.

Tochoji Temple Fukuoka
The Tochoji Temple complex consists of several buildings.

Inside the main hall is the wooden Senjukannon statue/ Thousand-armed Goddess of Mercy (Avalokiteshvara) made in the Heian era (794 – 1185, named after the capital city of Heian-kyō, or modern Kyoto). This statue, only 87 cm in height, is designated as a Japanese national treasure. Unfortunately, while you can go inside the main hall, the statue itself is hidden, and you can only see it on the birthday of Kukai (the temple founder) on the 27th of July.

The founder of the temple, the Buddhist priest Kukai, is buried here as are several feudal lords who ruled during the Tokugawa period in the Edo time.

The temple ground has some cherry trees, making the garden a great place to see some beautiful cherry blossoms during spring (late March/ early April).

Pilgrimage Corridor – Buddhist Hell

If you have the courage, you can try out the pilgrimage corridor through the Buddhist “hell.” The entrance is on the left side of the huge Buddha statue.

Here you walk through a small corridor with morbid art and paintings depicting people suffering in hell.

Pilgrimage corridor Tochoji Temple Fukuoka
The pilgrimage corridor at Tochiji Temple has pictures of people going to hell.

The end of the corridor is pitch dark, and you see nothing. Hold on to the handrail and walk through it until you meet the light again at the end of the tunnel, so to speak. I think this walk’s message is that you can find your way through the darkness with the help of faith. If you are scared of the dark, this might be a bit scary and overwhelming like me. I held on to my boyfriend Espen as he walked in front of me. 🙂

Even though the pilgrimage corridor was a bit scary, it was the highlight of Tochoji Temple for me and something I will not soon forget.

Setsubun Festival – 3. February

If you are in Fukuoka on the 3rd of February, the Setsubun Festival is a big celebration at Tochoji Temple where you can pray for good luck. We’ve only seen photos of it and it looks quite spectacular, with beans flying in the air and dancing devils and monsters.

  • Opening hours Tochoji Temple: 09:00 – 16:45
  • Ticket price Tochoji Temple: Free. A small donation is welcomed at the Buddha statue.
  • How to get there: You can walk from JR Hakata Station in 15-20 min. Or take the subway one station from Hakata Station to Gion Station on the Kuko Subway Line, and walk from there (1 min walk).

From Tochoji Temple (C), walk north to Shofukuji Temple (D). Walking time: 3 min. 

D. Shofukuji Temple

  • Estimated visiting time: 15-20 min. 

Shofukuji Temple is Japan’s oldest Zen temple, founded in 1195 by Zen master Yosai (Eisai).

Shofukuji Temple Fukuoka
Shofukuji Temple is Japan’s oldest Zen Buddhist temple.

Eisai was the Buddhist priest who introduced Zen Buddhism to Japan from China. Although Buddhism had a strong foothold in Japan for a long time, ever since the 500s, Eisai introduced Zen’s new teachings to the country, which he had learned from his travels in China. He taught meditation and discipline, which quickly become very popular within the samurai class.

He also introduced tea to Japan and planted Japan’s first tea plants on the temple grounds of Shofukuji Temple.

The temple buildings are closed to the public, so sadly, you cannot go inside. But you can go for a walk around the temple grounds and see the old buildings from the outside.

Shofukuji Temple autumn leaves Fukuoka
The buildings are Shofukuji Temple is sadly closed to the public.

The temple ground has many typical Zen features. You will see several temple gates surrounding the temple, where Sanmon Gate is the biggest, rebuilt in 1911, standing in front of a small pond and a bridge.

Shofukuji Temple Fukuoka
Sanmon Gate is the biggest gate at Shofukuji Temple, rebuilt in 1911.

When you have entered the grounds through Sanmon Gate, follow the tree-lined stone path that leads to the Butsuden Hall. The Butsuden Hall houses a small wooden Buddha statue with giant golden Buddha statues on both sides. The ceiling of this building has some beautiful paintings of a cloud dragon.

Golden Buddha statues at Shofukuji Temple Fukuoka
Golden Buddha statues at Shofukuji Temple

Make sure to look at the rooftops of the temple buildings, which are beautifully decorated with ornaments. Each roof tile is decorated with a leaf-like symbol which is the family symbol of the Minamoto clan. This is because Minamoto no Yoritomo, the first Shogun (military dictator) of the Kamakura shogunate, assisted Zen master Eisai in building this temple. Kamakura Shogunate was the feudal military government of Japan during the Kamakura period from 1185 to 1333. 

Roof tile decoration Shofukuji Temple Fukuoka
The round leaf roof tile decorations are the family symbol of the Minamoto clan, the first Shogun at Kamakura shogunate.
  • Opening hours Shofukuji Temple: The buildings are closed to the public, but the temple grounds are open 24h.
  • Ticket price Shofukuji Temple: Free
  • How to get there: You can walk from JR Hakata Station (the main railway station in Fukuoka) in 15-20 min. Or take the subway one station from Hakata Station to Gion Station on the Kuko Subway Line, and walk from there (2 min).

From Shofukuji Temple (D), walk south to Hakata Machiya Furusatokan Folk Museum (E). Walking time: 5 min. 

E. Hakata Machiya Furusatokan Folk Museum

  • Estimated visiting time: 30 min. 

The area you are in right now, Hakata, used to be a city in itself before it was merged with neighboring Fukuoka in 1876 into today’s modern city.

Hakata was one of Japan’s oldest cities and an important and vibrant merchant city making trades with Korea and China. Hakata had Japan’s first Chinatown.

Hakata Machiya Furusatokan Folk Museum
Hakata area of Fukuoka was an international port town.

Today, you can find the remains of this old trading city Hakata at Hakatamachiya Furusatokan Museum. This lovely folk museum gives you an insight into how life in Hakata used to be during the late Meiji era (1868 – 1912). Here you find three replicas of traditional Japanese townhouses, called Machiya, which together form a typical Hakata neighborhood or Nagare.

Hakata Machiya Furusatokan Folk Museum
The lovely Hakata Machiya Furusatokan Folk Museum is one of the top attractions in Fukuoka.

It is great fun to wander around inside and through the narrow streets between these houses. Inside the buildings, you can enjoy demonstrations of local crafts from artisans and galleries with historical photographs and exhibitions of traditional culture that was a common part of Hakata.

Handicrafts at Hakata Machiya Furusatokan Folk Museum
You can see demonstrations of different crafts at Hakata Machiya Furusatokan Folk Museum.

Downstairs you will find a gift shop selling a wide selection of traditional Japanese toys and crafts at reasonable prices.

  • Opening hours Hakata Machiya Furusatokan Museum: 10:00 – 18:00 (last entry at 17:30). It opens at 09:00 in July and August.
  • Ticket price Hakata Machiya Furusatokan Museum: 200 JPY = US$ 1,8 (adult). Children are free.
  • How to get there: You can walk from JR Hakata Station in 15 min. Or take the subway one station from Hakata Station to Gion Station, and walk from there (5 min).
  • Hakatamachiya Furusatokan Museum’s Official Webpage

Hakata Machiya Furusatokan Museum (E) walks over to the neighboring Kushida Shrine (F). Walking time: 1 min. 

F. Kushida Shrine

  • Estimated visiting time: 20 min. 

Kushida Shrine, or Kushida-jinja, is a beautiful Shinto shrine dating back to AD 757, when this area of Fukuoka was a big trade port between Japan, China, and Korea. It is Fukuoka’s oldest shrine and the most important shrine in this area.

Praying at Kushida Shrine Fukuoka
The beautiful Kushida Shrine in Fukuoka.

The shrine is dedicated to Amaterasu, the sun’s goddess in Japanese mythology, and her younger brother Susanoo. Susanoo has many faces and is both good and bad, often associated with the sea and storms.

Kushida Shrine Fukuoka
Evening calm at Kushida Shrine.

You will also notice a well surrounded by three cranes on the ground in front of the shrine. There is also a drinking well towards the entrance of the temple. Drink the water and pray for eternal youth.

The huge ginkgo tree at the shrine’s grounds is said to be more than a thousand years old. And the huge rounded stones, are likely to have been anchor stones from Chinese trading ships. And last but not least, you will find a Torii gate corridor at the temple, a little bit similar to Fushimi Inari Shrine outside Kyoto.

Paper fortunes are very common at Buddhist shrines, and Kushida Shrine is one of very few that have paper fortunes in other languages than Japanese. Here you can get paper fortunes in English, Korean, Chinese, and Taiwanese. Of course, we had to get a paper fortune.

Praying cards at Kushida Shrine in Fukuoka
Praying cards at Kushida Shrine.
Festivals at Kushida Shrine

Every winter, on the 3rd of February, the Setsubun Taisai festival is held in Hakata. During this festival (end of January until 3rd of February), you can see and walk through Japan’s biggest Otafuku mask at Kushida Shrine. The mask is 5,3 meters tall and 5 meters wide and is built on the torii gate in front of the Kushida Shrine. Otafuku is a popular figure in Japanese folk tales. Otafuku masks often smile with big cheeks, and Otafuku can be translated as “plenty of happiness.” Walking through this mask is said to bring good luck.

However, this shrine’s big happening is the famous Hakata Gion Yamakasa Matsuri festival in July (see the chapter “Fukuoka Festivals” further down in this article).

Even if you are not in Fukuoka at the beginning of July for the Hakata Gion Yamakasa Matsuri festival, you can see one of the several stories-high floats outside the Kushida Shrine.

  • Opening hours Kushida Shrine: 08:00 – 18:00
  • Ticket price Kushida Shrine: Free
  • How to get there: You can walk from JR Hakata Station in 15 min. Or take the subway one station from Hakata Station to Gion Station or Nakasu-Kawabata Station, and walk from there (8 min).
  • Kushida Shrine’s Official Webpage

From Kushida Shrine (F), walk west to Fukuoka Castle Ruins and Maizuru Park (G). Walking time: 30 min. Or you can take the subway to Ohori Koen Subway Station. Fukuoka castle ruins are a 10 min walk from the Ohori Koen Subway Station. You can also take the bus or a taxi (driving time: 9 min). On your way, stop for some ramen lunch at Ichiran or Ippudo. 

Ramen Noodle Lunch  – Ichiran Or Ippudo

By now, you are probably starving, and it is time to have a lunch break with some of Fukuoka’s famous Ramen. We had lunch at Ichiran and Ippudo (on two different days…), and they both serve delicious ramen noodles.

Both Ichiran and Ippudo fit perfectly in this itinerary. Ichiran lays close to Kushida Shrine (an 8-min walk), while Ippudo lays close to Fukuoka Castle Ruins (a 10-min walk).

You might wonder what Ramen is? Ramen is a Japanese noodle soup that consists of wheat noodles served in a meat or fish-based broth. Often it is flavored with miso or soy sauce, topped with sliced pork, beef, chicken, egg, and vegetables. It is delicious and one of my favorite Japanese dishes.

Ichiran Ramen

Ichiran is a Fukuoka-born ramen chain that you can now find all over Japan. The first one opened in Fukuoka in 1993.

Ichiran is my favorite Japanese ramen noodle chain! Not only are their fresh noodles in a tasty warm broth delicious! But I also love their 15-second kitchen-to-table philosophy, which means you get your food quickly.

The ordering is also very smooth as you fill out a form (available in English) and request precisely how you want your noodles, what kind of noodles you want, additional toppings, drinks, and dessert. Easy peasy! You can choose to eat on traditional tables or in individual booths. And you M-U-S-T try their Matcha pudding for dessert, my favorite!

Ichiran has a restaurant only an 8-min walk from Kushida Shrine (F on this itinerary), making it the perfect place to eat before heading on to Fukuoka Castle Ruins in Maizuru Park (G).

Ippudo Ramen

Ippudo is Fukuoka’s most famous ramen chain. Choose between their different noodles: Akamaru Modern (with black sesame oil), Shiromaru Classic (thin noodles), and Karaka (spicy ramen noodles). We had their best-selling Akamaru Modern ramen noodles. It was delicious and I really enjoyed the free ice tea.

Ramen noodles at Ippudo Fukuoka
Delicious ramen noodles at Ippudo

Ippudo has several restaurants in Fukuoka, but the one at Daimyo Honten is the original. It is located a 10 min walk from Fukuoka Castle Ruins/ Maizuru Park, next up on this itinerary (G). You can take the subway to Tenjin Station. Ippudo is only an 8 min walk from this station.

It can be a little difficult to spot the Ippudo entrance if you don’t speak Japanese as their signs are in Japanese only. But use the photos here as a reference. Ippudo also has a restaurant at JR Hakata City shopping center (JR Hakata Railway Station) on the 10th floor.

Castella Cake Dessert – Fukusaya

After the ramen, it is time for some dessert. Head over to Fukusaya and try their delicious Castella cake, a specialty of Fukuoka.

Fukusaya has been making Castella cake since 1624 and has shops in Nagasaki, Tokyo, and Fukuoka. Castella cake is originally a Portuguese cake that has evolved into a fusion of Eastern and Western cultures over the years. It is delicious!

The Fukusaya in Fukuoka is located close to Ippudo Ramen restaurant, and about a 15-min walk from Fukuoka Castle Ruins/ Maizuru Park which is up next on this itinerary.

G. Fukuoka Castle Ruins – Maizuru Park

  • Estimated visiting time: 1 hour

Fukuoka Castle, also called Maizuru Castle or Seki Castle, was constructed in the early Edo period (1601 and completed in 1607). It belonged to tozama daimyo/ feudal lord Kuroda Nagamasa and is located on Fukusaki hilltop with Naka River acting as a natural moat on the east side of the castle.

Fukuoka Castle
The ruins of Fukuoka Castle. Photograph(s) provided by Fukuoka City.

The once biggest castle in the Kyushu district of Japan was torn down after the Meiji Restoration in 1867 when the Tokugawa era came to an end. The emperor Meiji moved from Kyoto to the new capital Tokyo. During this period, they removed symbols of the feudal past, like sadly Fukuoka Castle.

Today, you can only see some of the old Fukuoka Castle ruins, like a few walls, gates, guard towers, and turrets.

Cherry Blossoms Fukuoka Castle
Fukuoka Castle is surrounded by 1000 cherry trees which are in bloom in March/ April. Photograph(s) provided by Fukuoka City.
Maizuru Park

A big part of the castle grounds has been converted into a huge park – Maizuru Park. Here you find sports facilities, a courthouse, and Fukuoka Art Museum. You can also find Heiwadai Baseball Stadium here.

Fukuoka Art Museum houses a collection of Buddhist statues, some dating back to the 11th century, and paintings by modern artists such as Dali and Miro.

Maizuru Park is a fantastic place to see cherry blossoms from late March until early April as the walking paths around the park are lined with cherry trees. It feels like walking in a tunnel of pinkish flowers, and it is a lovely sight. The big areas of lawns are perfect for hanami parties and picnics.

  • Opening hours Fukuoka Castle Ruins/ Maizuru Park: Always open
  • Ticket price Fukuoka Castle Ruins/ Maizuru Park: Free, except for seasonal illumination events.
  • How to get there: Take the subway to Ohori Koen Subway Station. Fukuoka castle ruins are a 10-15 walk from the station.

From Fukuoka Castle Ruins/ Maizuru Park (G), walk west to Ohori Park Japanese Garden (H). Walking time: 10 min. 

H. Ohori Japanese Garden

  • Estimated visiting time: 30-60 min. 

Next to Maizuru Park, you will find Ohori Park. Ohori Park is a tranquil city park with a huge pond in its center. Ohori in Japanese actually means moat, and part of the moat that once encircled Fukuoka Castle is intact and stands in front of the big lake. The walking path that goes around the lake is 2 km long and popular for walks and running.

Three islands have been built in the pond, connected with each other and the mainland by beautiful stone bridges.

Ohori Park Fukuoka
The huge Ohori Park is popular for walks and running. Photograph(s) provided by Fukuoka City.

A part of Ohori Park is a Japanese Garden –  Ohori Japanese Garden. Here you can enjoy a typical Japanese garden with different landscapes, a waterfall, a dry garden, and a tea house. The garden is designed by one of Japan’s most famous garden masters, Nakane Kinsaku. The garden is perfect for a stroll and to have a little Zen moment in peace.

Ohori Japanese Garden Fukuoka
The fantastic Japanese Garden in Ohori Park. Photograph(s) provided by Fukuoka City.

The golden Gokoku Shrine is located next to Ohori Park (across the road), with a large Torii gate.

  • Opening hours Ohori Japanese Garden: The public Ohori Park is always open. Ohori Japanese Garden is open from 09:00 till 18:00.
  • Ticket price Ohori Japanese Garden: 240 JPY = US$ 2. Ohori Park is free.
  • How to get there: Take the subway to Ohori Koen Subway Station. Ohori Park is a 10-15 walk from the station.
  • Ohori Japanese Garden’s Official Webpage

From Ohori Japanese Garden (H), you can walk to Fukuoka City Museum (I) in about 45 min. Or you can take the subway to Nishijin Subway Station. Fukuoka city museum is a 13 min walk from Nishijin Station. Or you can take the bus or taxi (an 11 min drive). 

I. Fukuoka City Museum

  • Estimated visiting time: 30 – 60 min. 

Fukuoka City Museum is a modern museum where you can learn about the rich history and culture in the Fukuoka area. Here you can learn about Fukuoka’s history gateway for international trade towards Korea and China. The museum’s pride is an ancient 108 gram gold seal.

Fukuoka City Museum
Fukuoka City Museum. Photograph(s) provided by Fukuoka City.
  • Opening hours Fukuoka City Museum: 09:30 – 17:30 (last entry 17:00). Closed every Monday (or next day if Monday is a holiday).
  • Ticket price Fukuoka City Museum: 200 JPY = US$ 1,8, 150 JPY (high school children), free for younger children.
  • How to get there: Take the subway to Nishijin Subway Station. Fukuoka city museum is a 13 min walk from this station.
  • Fukuoka City Museum’s Offical Webpage

From Fukuoka City Museum (I), walk north to Fukuoka Tower (J). Walking time: 6 min. 

J. Fukuoka Tower

  • Estimated visiting time: 30 – 60 min. 
Fukuoka Tower
Photograph(s) provided by Fukuoka City.

The iconic Fukuoka Tower is Japan’s tallest seaside tower, with its height of 234 meters. You can take the lift up to the observation deck, which is 123 meters tall, and you will enjoy a fabulous 360-degree view of Fukuoka and the sea. Come here in the afternoon to see the sunset.

The tower is covered by 8000 half-mirrors, giving it the appearance of a skyscraper, thus its nickname “Mirror Sail.” The mirrors reflect the sky during daylight.
After dark, Fukuoka Tower is beautifully illuminated in blue and purple. You get to really feel the height, as you can see through the windows while riding the elevator to the top. So cool!

There are a total of three observation decks at Fukuoka Tower. The first one is at 116 meters, the second one at 120 meters with restaurants and a cafe with amazing panoramic views, and the highest one is at 123 meters.

You might have seen Fukuoka Tower before if you have watched the Japanese film Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla (1994). In the film, SpaceGodzilla uses Fukuoka Tower to absorb energy. Shortly after, Godzilla destroys the tower after the foundation is weakened by the giant robot M.O.G.U.E.R.A. 

  • Opening hours Fukuoka Tower: 09:30 – 21:00 (last entry 20:30)
  • Ticket price Fukuoka Tower: 800 JPY = US$ 7,3 (adult), 500 JPY (high school and elementary children), 200 JPY (children above 4 years old).
  • How to get there: Take the subway to Nishijin Subway Station. Fukuoka tower is 18 min walk from this subway station. Or you can take the bus or taxi.
  • Fukuoka Towers’s Offical Webpage

Fukuoka Yatai Food Stalls

Finish off your day in the proper Fukuokan way by enjoying the atmospheric Yatai food stalls that the city is famous for. Each night Yatai/ food stalls (over 100!) are set up outdoor on pavements and along the canals all across Fukuoka, especially in the areas Tenjin, Nagahama, and Nakasu. The Yatai food stalls in Nagahama are the birthplace of the noodle soup with ultra-thin noodles “Nagahama Ramen”.

However, one of the best places to find Yatai is on the southern end of Nakasu Island, on the riverbank of Naka River just north of Seiryu Park (a 10 min walk from Nakasu Kawabata Subway Station or Minami Tenjin Subway Station). Here you will find a long atmospheric row of over twenty food stalls along the river bank.

Yatai Food Stalls Fukuoka
The riverbank of Naka River is lined with Yatai food stalls. Photograph(s) provided by Fukuoka City.

The Yatai food stalls are typically open from around 18:00/ 19:00 until 02:00 in the morning. Some Yatais are closed on Sundays. The stalls are open the whole year round, also during winter, but might close during bad weather.

Yatai offers delicious Japanese street food like Yakitori (grilled chicken skewers), Oden (hot pot soup), Takoyaki (grilled pancake balls with octopus), Gyoza (dumplings), and of course Fukuoka’s most famous dish Hakata Ramen (noodles in pork broth). The Yatai street food goes perfectly together with local beer. So grab a seat, order some food and drinks, and have a chat with the locals.

To fully explore the food culture and specialties of Fukuoka, you should join a food tour, like this “Private Eat Like A Local Food Tour”. On this 4-hour food tour, a fun English-speaking local guide will take you to the best restaurants and street food/ Yatai in Fukuoka. You get to try 6-8 different local dishes and 2 drinks unique to Fukuoka. The tour starts at 18:00/ 6 pm.

Yatai Street Food Fukuoka
Yatai food stalls sell different kinds of Japanese dishes. Photograph(s) provided by Fukuoka City.

Check out this map and list of all 100 Yatai food stalls in Fukuoka (Yokanavi Fukuoka City Guide).


That’s it, our ultimate Fukuoka itinerary where you can explore and learn about the rich and colorful history of Fukuoka. This itinerary takes you to Fukuoka’s best attractions with all the best things to do and see in Fukuoka.

Fukuoka took us by surprise with all its fantastic sights and attraction, and watching the sumo tournament was great fun. If you have more than one day in Fukuoka, check out our section Other Things To Do In Fukuoka below. Also, make sure to check out what else you should not miss when going to Japan in our recommended two-week Japan itinerary.

After Fukuoka, we took the train to Nagasaki (a 2-hour train ride). Nagasaki is a fantastic city with a lot to see and do, and definitely a city you should visit.


Other Things To Do In Fukuoka

Fukuoka’s Shrines And Temples

Fukuoka is packed with shrines and temples. If you want to see more than the four shrines and temples in this itinerary (Jotenji Temple, Tochoji Temple, Shofukuji Temple, and Kushida Shrine), here is a list of the other temples and shrines in Fukuoka:

  • Waka Hachimangu Shrine
  • Ogususama (the tomb of Shakokumei)
  • Ryuguji Temple
  • Myorakuji Temple
  • Engakuji Temple
  • Genjuan Temple
  • Zendoji Temple
  • Myotenji Temple
  • Suikyo Tenmangu Shrine
  • Sumiyoshi Shrine

Fukuoka River Cruise

See Fukuoka from the waterside, and enjoy a river cruise on the Nakagawa River that runs through the city. The cruise departs from a pier 5 min walk from Nakasu-Kawabata Subway Station. The cruise runs both during the day and in the evening. There is also a dinner cruise in the evening where you get to enjoy a meal on the traditional Japanese-style Yakatabune boat.

Hakata Traditional Craft And Design Museum

The Hakata area of Fukuoka is renowned for its traditional weaving, called Hakata Ori, and Hakata dolls called Hakata Ningyo. At the Hakata Traditional Craft And Design Museum,  you can see examples of these traditional crafts and learn about Fukuoka’s woven textile culture.

Hakata Ori Textile Fukuoka
Hakata Ori is a unique textile from Fukuoka. Photograph(s) provided by Fukuoka City.

The museum also holds workshops and lectures.

If you want to shop for the famous and colorful Hakata Ori textiles, the Hakata Japan shop to the right as you enter Hakata Riverain mall is the perfect place to go. They have produced woven Hakata Ori textiles for generations, but now in more modern uses, including accessories. Here you can also buy used kimonos, at a fraction of what a new one costs.

Hakata Japan shop Fukuoka
Head to the shop Hakata Japan at Hakata Riverain Mall to buy Fukuokas famous Hakata Ori textiles.
  • Opening hours Hakata Traditional Craft And Design Museum: 10:00 – 18:00. Closed on Wednesdays.
  • Ticket price Hakata Traditional Craft And Design Museum: Free
  • How to get there: You can walk from JR Hakata Station in 15 min. Or take the subway to Gion Station or Nakasu-Kawabata Station, and walk from there (5 min).
  • Hakata Traditional Craft And Design Museum’s Official Webpage

Fukuoka Asian Art Museum

You will find Fukuoka Asian Art Museum on the upper floors (7 and 8th floor) of the Hakata Riverain shopping mall. The huge museum has a world-renowned Asia gallery and several special exhibitions shoring modern and contemporary art from 23 different Asian countries. Check their webpage to see what is currently showing in their changing exhibitions.

  • Opening hours Fukuoka Asian Art Museum: 09:30 – 19:30 (until 20:00 Fridays and Saturdays). Closed every Wednesday.
  • Ticket price Fukuoka Asian Art Museum: Free to enter the museum. Admission for the permanent Asia Gallery collection: 200 JPY = US$ 1,8 (adult).
  • How to get there: Take the subway to Nakasu-Kawabata Station. The art museum is just next to the subway station.
  • Fukuoka Asian Art Museum’s Official Webpage

Shopping

Fukuoka is well-known for its excellent shopping, and you will find some cool and modern shopping malls here. So you can absolutely shop for your Japan souvenirs and gifts here.

Nishi-Dori Avenue, Daimyo, and Imaizumi area are great places to head for shopping and dining. Fukuoka also has some unique and cool arcade shopping streets, like Tenjin Chikagai Underground Shopping Street, Kawabata Shopping Arcade, and Shintencho Shopping Arcade.

Canal City

Canal City is Fukuok’s largest mall. It is a cool mall with an artificial canal with an illuminated fountain symphony, a multiplex cinema, a playhouse, game arcades, and about 250 shops. Here you will find shops like Muji, Uniqlo, Sanrio, and H&M.

Canal City shopping mall Fukuoka
The cool Canal City is Fukuoka’s biggest shopping mall.

Grand Hyatt and other hotels are also a part of this huge mall and several restaurants, cafes, and bars.  If you want to try the famous Hakata ramen (noodle dish), head to the Ramen Stadium, an entire floor (4th floor) with ramen outlets.

Hakata Riverain

Hakata Riverain is a big modern shopping mall with about 70 shops where you can find clothes, shoes, fashion, homewares and Japanese designs. The Fukuoka Asian Art Museum is on the top floors.

The mall also houses Hotel Okura Fukuoka and Hakata-Za Theater, where you can watch Kabuki traditional theater performances, concerts, and musicals.

Seaside Momochi Park & Beach

The seaside park Seaside Momochi is Fukuoka’s waterfront along Hakata Bay. This park was developed for the 1989 Asia Pacific Expo and is a lovely area of Fukuoka with wide tree-lined streets, modern and futuristic buildings, and public parks and beaches.

Here you can go for a stroll along the beach, catch some sun, dine and shop.

Seaside Park Fukuoka Beach
The lovely Fukuoka Beach at Seaside Park. Photograph(s) provided by Fukuoka City.

Uminonakamichi Seaside Park

The huge public park Uminonakamichi Seaside Park is a welcome retreat from the busy Fukuoka city across the bay. The 4 km long park houses flower gardens, children’s playgrounds, sports fields, a water park, a zoo, and big lawns perfect for picnics or a green break in the sun.

Uminonakamichi Seaside Park is a great area for bicycling, and you can rent bicycles at the entrance for 500 JPY = US$ 4,5 for three hours, or 700 JPY for a whole day. The cycle course is 12 km in total. Or you can opt for a segway tour.  During spring, summer, autumn, you can jump on the park bus that goes around the park.

Uminonakamichi Seaside Park is especially wonderful during spring, summer, and autumn (from mid-March until October) when different flowers are in bloom, like narcissus and tulips nemophila, roses, hydrangeas, sunflowers, and cosmos.

Uminonakamichi Seaside Park
The lovely Uminonakamichi Seaside Park. Photograph(s) provided by Fukuoka City.

The cherry blossoms are spectacular at Uminonakamichi Seaside Park, with 2000 cherry trees that make up a pinkish sea and tunnels around the lawns and cycle paths. It is the most popular cherry blossom spot in Fukuoka. So if you happen to be in Fukuoka around late March or early April, it is definitely worth taking a trip out here.

  • Opening hours Uminonakamichi Seaside Park: 09:30 – 17:30 (until 17:00 from November to February).
  • Ticket price Uminonakamichi Seaside Park: 450 JPY = US$ 4
  • How to get there: Take the JR Kagoshima Line from Hakata Station to Kashii Station (10 minutes). Transfer to the JR Kashii Line to Uminonakamichi Station (20 minutes) just outside the park entrance. The entire journey (one way) takes about 40 minutes and costs 480 JPY.
    Or you can take the ferry from Momochi Seaside Park in downtown Fukuoka (1100 JPY one way, 20 min). Ferries depart approximately every two hours (more frequent during busy seasons).
  • Uminonakamichi Seaside Park’s Offical Webpage

Marine World Uminonakamichi

Next to Uminonakamichi Seaside Park, you will find the aquarium Marine World Uminonakamichi. The aquarium has a seven-meter deep pool filled with marine life and fish from this region of Japan, like 120 sharks of 20 different varieties. You can also see the dolphins being fed and sea lions in the outdoor pools.

Marine World Uminonakamichi Fukuoka
You can see dolphins at Marine World Uminonakamichi. Photograph(s) provided by Fukuoka City.
  • Opening hours Marine World Uminonakamichi: 09:30 – 17:30 (March – November), 10:00 – 17:00 (December – February).
  • Ticket price Marine World Uminonakamichi: 2350 JPY = US$ 22 (adult), 1100 JPY (elementary-high school children), 600 JPY (over 3 yrs old)
  • How to get there: Take the JR Kagoshima Line from Hakata Station to Kashii Station (10 minutes). Transfer to the JR Kashii Line to Uminonakamichi Station (20 minutes) just outside the park entrance. The entire journey (one way) takes about 40 minutes and costs 480 JPY.
    Or you can take the ferry from Momochi Seaside Park in downtown Fukuoka (1100 JPY one way, 20 min). Ferries depart approximately every two hours (more frequent during busy seasons).
  • Marine World Uminonakamichi’s Offical Webpage

Hakata Hyakunengura Ishikura Sake Brewery

The only Sake brewery left in Fukuoka. It is located in Hakata and has been producing Sake (Japanese alcoholic beverage) since the early Meiji Period (1868-1877). They make several different sakes and you can taste them all here. The brewery has a great gift shop where you can buy souvenirs and gifts to bring back home.

  • Opening hours: 11:00 – 19:00/ 7 pm
  • Address: 1-30-1, Katakasu, Hakata-Ku, Fukuoka (within Ishikura Brewery)
  • How to get there: Take the subway to Chiyo Kenchoguchi Station (7 min. walk to the brewery) or Gion Station (12 min. walk to the brewery). Or take the Nishitetsu bus and get off at Fukko-mae Stop (1 min. walk to the brewery) or at Chiyo-machi Stop (7 min. walk to the brewery). Or take a taxi (5 min. drive from JR Hakata station).
  • Ishikura Shuzo’s Hakata Hyakunen-Gura Sake Brewery’s Official Webpage

Where To Stay In Fukuoka

Fukuoka has a wide range of hotels and accommodation options. Most hotels here have modern western-styled rooms, although you will find a few ryokan/ traditional Japanese inns.

Most hotels in Fukuoka are in the three central areas of the city:

  • Hakata area
    Has Fukuoka’s main railway station – JR Hakata Station. Stay here for convenience if you plan on taking the train to other places in the area like Nagasaki or Beppu. You will also be within easy walking distance to all the temples and shrines.
  • Tenjin area & Daimyo area
    Stay here if you plan to spend a few days shopping, dining, and bar-hopping in the modern downtown of Fukuoka.

We chose to stay at Mitsui Garden Hotel Gion since we wanted to stay close to the JR Hakata Station, but still central and within walking distance to all the attractions in Fukuoka, including the Grand Sumo tournament arena Fukuoka Kokusai Center. It worked out perfectly for us and loved the hotel.

Top End

Miyako Hotel Hakata
The newly renovated (2019) 5-star Miyako Hotel Hakata is a fantastic hotel in the Hakata area of Fukuoka. It is located just opposite JR Hakata Train Station (150 m), with direct access to the subway. The real star of the hotel is, however, the rooftop swimming pool, spa, and onsen/ hot spring bath. There is also a nice restaurant on the top floor. The rooms are big, stylish, and modern, and the TV has Chromecast/ Netflix.
Click here for the latest prices

Grand Hyatt
The 5-star luxurious Grand Hyatt Fukuoka is located inside Fukuoka’s biggest shopping mall, the cool Canal City. At this hotel, you can enjoy the indoor swimming poot, spa, onsen/ hot spring bath, free use of the fitness center, and big comfortable rooms. You can walk to JR Hakata Station in 13 min. Since the hotel is a part of Canal City Mall, you can easily find lots of shops, cafes, restaurants, and a cinema complex and theater without even stepping outside. This surely is a top-notch hotel!
Click here for the latest prices

Hilton Fukuoka Sea Hawk
With its location right by the sea, the 5-star Hilton Fukuoka Sea Hawk has a fantastic ocean view overlooking Hakata Bay. The rooms are spacious, bigger than average Japanese hotel rooms, and spotlessly clean. At the hotel, you can dine at five different restaurants (Japanse, Chinese, and European), enjoy their outdoor swimming pool, spa, onsen/ hot spring bath, sauna, and fitness center. It is located close to Fukuoka Tower, only a 10-min walk, and right by the lovely Momoch Seaside Park with its beach. The hotel has big family rooms as well that can house six people. You can easily get to central Fukuoka by bus which departs right outside the hotel, or a taxi of course.
Click here for the latest prices

Mid-Range

Mitsui Garden Hotel Fukuoka Gion
We stayed at Mitsui Garden Hotel and loved it! The location is excellent, in the central Hakata area of Fukuoka. We could easily walk from and to the JR Hakata Station in just 7 min, which is Fukuoka’s main railway and subway station. Very convenient as you can get to anywhere in Fukuoka and out of town from Hakata Station.

The hotel is in the middle of the old temple and shrine area of Fukuoka, you can walk to Kushida Shrine in just 5 min. Fukuoka’s biggest shopping mall, Canal City, is located just opposite the road from the hotel, with lots of shops, cafes, and restaurants. And you can walk to the Tenjin area of Fukuoka in 20 min. It is also a convenient hotel to stay at if you are in town for the Sumo tournament at Fukuoka Kokusai Center, as it only takes 15 min to walk there.

Our room was modern and comfortable with lovely huge beds, and we had a delicious breakfast in the hotel restaurant. The hotel’s onsen/ public hot spring bath on the top floor (13th floor) with its indoor and outdoor area and sauna was the perfect ending to a day of sightseeing and Sumo watching.

I also loved having Starbucks and a bakery next door. Price-wise the hotel is mid-range, and a good deal for your money.
Click here for the latest prices

Solaria Nishitetsu Hotel Fukuoka
If you want to stay in the modern downtown of Fukuoka, in the middle of all the action, then Solaria Nishitetsu Hotel is a great choice! It is located right in the center of the bustling Tenjin area of Fukuoka. Here you find shopping malls, restaurants, cafes, pubs, and nightlife. The hotel is only a 3-min walk from Tenjin Subway Station.
Click here for the latest prices

Zen Oyado Nishitei Ryokan
A small little gem of a traditional Japanese inn/ ryokan where you can enjoy the best in Japanese hospitality and food. This ryokan has everything a Japanese inn should have; tatami mats on the floor, futon beds, a garden, and an onsen/ hot spring bath. The breakfast is fantastic with several small dishes which is common in Japan. If you haven’t experienced staying at a ryokan, you definitely should as it is a unique part of Japanese culture and great fun.
Click here for the latest prices

Budget

The Lively Hakata
The new (opened in 2019), fresh, and super cool, and stylish The Lively Hakata has the perfect locating in Hakata, close to Hakata train station (a 10-min walk). The private rooms all come with a private bathroom. There is a lovely rooftop terrace where you can relax and hang out. The hotel has a cool bar downstairs with a happy hour (free beer from 5:30 pm to 6:30 pm) each evening.
Click here for the latest prices

Montan Hakata
A stylish hipster-like budget hotel/ hostel with a convenient location right in the heart of the Hakata area of Fukuoka, close to Hakata Railway Station. It is clean and quiet with spacious bathrooms and a shared kitchen. You can choose between a futon bed (sleep on the floor on futon mats), bunk beds, or regular beds. They have big family rooms as well.
Click here for the latest prices


Fukuoka Festivals & Happenings

Fukuoka is a real festival city well-known for its three major festivals; Hakata Gion Yamakasa in July, Hakata Dontaku in May, and Hojoya in September.

Tamaseseri Festival – 3. January

The Tamaseseri Festival is held on the 3rd of January at the Hakozaki Shrine in Fukuoka. It is a New Year’s festival to celebrate the new year. The highlight of this festival is the competition where men in Fundoshi (white cloth) compete to get a wooden ball which is supposed to bring luck for the new year.

Toka Ebisu Festival – 8. – 11. January

The Toka Ebisu Festival is held at the Toka Ebisu Shrine in Fukuoka. The festival is dedicated to Ebisu, who is the god of the fishery. This festival’s highlight is the “Kachi-Mairi,” or walking visit, where Geisha girls in beautiful kimonos walk through the temple grounds. This happens around 15:00 on the 9th of January. So grab your camera or phone and capture these beautiful Geisha girls.

Cherry Blossoms/ Sakura Festivals – March/ April

Photograph(s) provided by Fukuoka City.

The cherry blossoms or sakura are usually from mid-March until the beginning of April in Fukuoka. During this time, several parks, gardens, and temples all around the city have special viewings and happenings. Some have cherry blossom illumination in the evenings.

Fukuoka Castle Sakura Festival

The Fukuoka Castle Sakura Festival is held at Maizuru Park and the old Fukuoka Castle ruins. You will be able to enjoy cherry blossom illumination, events and concerts, food, and drink stalls in the afternoon and evenings. The park has over 1000 cherry trees in full bloom around mid-March/ early April, which are beautifully lit up in the evenings, making them glow even more.


Nishi Park Sakura

With over 1300 cherry trees, this is one of the best places in Fukuoka to see cherry blossoms. It is also the only place in Fukuoka to be on the “100 Famous Japanse Cherry Blossom Sites” list.  You can enjoy the cherry blossoms from three viewing observation platforms with a lovely view over Hakata Bay, Shikanoshima Island, and Nokonoshima Island.

Cherry blossoms flower
Cherry blossoms in spring is a fantastic time of year to visit Japan

Other nice places to see cherry blossoms in Fukuoka are:

  • Minami Park
    Minami Park (houses Fukuoka City Zoo and Botanical Garden) has over 1000 cherry trees. It is popular for sakura picnics.
  • Forest City Aburayama
    A mountain park at the slopes of Mount Abura (597 m), 40 min by cars from JR Hakata Station. Perfect for hiking, nice views of Fukuoka city. Has over 2000 cherry trees in bloom in spring.
  • Atago Shrine
    Fukuoka’s oldest shrine (constructed in the year 72), located at the top of 68 m high hill, Mount Atago. The temple grounds have about 2000 cherry trees, and you get a great city view as well. The cherry trees are illuminated in the evenings during cherry blossoms.

Hakata Dontaku Festival – 3. – 4. May

The Hakata Dontaku Matsuri, or “Fukuoka citizens festival” goes over two days, the 3rd and 4th of May each year. Over 2 million people attend the festival, making it one of the biggest in Japan.

The main event is the huge colorful parade held on Meji street, from Gofuku-machi to Tenjin in Fukuoka. The street is closed for vehicles and renamed “Dontaku Street” for the festival. Over 650 groups of 33 000 people, performing and playing different instruments like drums. Some years even Mickey Mouse and Snoopy has been a part of the parade. Great fun for the kids!

There are also over 30 stages all around Fukuoka city where you can enjoy performances and concerts.

The Hakata Dontaku festival is over 840 years old and was first held in 1962 during the Golden Week. Its name “Dontaku” comes from the Dutch word “Zontag,” meaning Sunday. The festival originates from the Matsubayashi, a New Year’s Festival (Lunar New Year) welcoming the gods to bring happiness to the new year.

You can learn about the history of the Hakata Dontaku festival at the Hakata Machiya Furusatokan Folk Museum.

Hakata Gion Yamakasa Festival – 1. – 15. July

Hakata Gion Yamakasa Matsuri float
A float used at the Hakata Gion Yamakasa Matsuri festival

Hakata Gion Yamakasa Matsuri is the main festival of Fukuoka, held every 1. – 15. July at Kushida Shrine.

On the last day of the festival, the 15th of July at 04:59 AM, the festival reaches its climax as seven groups of men come together at Kushida Shrine. The seven groups compete in racing along the 5 km long course with huge portable shrines or Yamakasa, up to 10 meters tall and weighing 1 ton, on their shoulders.


The stories-high floats are on display outside the Kushida Shrine all year long. The floats are beautifully decorated with images of samurai warriors and scenes from traditional Japanese fairytales. The floats get carried through the streets of Fukuoka during the festival. The floats are a prayer for peace and protection.

Apparently, this festival started in the 13th century after a plague hit Fukuoka, and a Buddhist priest was carried aloft and sprinkled holy water on the plague victims.

Hojoya/ Houzyouya Festival – 12. – 18. September

This Hojoya Festival (also called Houzyouya) is held at Hakozaki Shrine in Fukuoka each September (12. – 18.).  During these autumn days, people dress up in their kimonos and head to the Hakozaki Shrine to come together and indulge in lots of delicious street food.

The 1 km long street leading up to Hakozaki Shrine is lined with 500 street food vendors selling all kinds of Japanese food and drinks.

The Hojoya festival is originally a shrine ritual to pay respect to be all living things and prohibit killing. Today it is more like a food festival where people come to the shrine to eat, drink, and come together and pray for traffic safety and business success.

Fukuoka International Film Festival – September

As film nerds, we have to promote Fukuoka International Film Festival that takes part over two weeks in September. Each year the festival shows around fifty films from all over Asia. Most of the films are shown at the Canal City cinema.

The film festival is a great arena to check out what goes on in the Asian film universe and meet directors, producers, and actors.

Fukuoka Sumo Tournament – November

We visited Fukuoka to watch the Fukuoka Sumo Tournament, which takes part every November. Six grand sumo tournaments are held in Japan every year, and the one in November is held in Fukuoka, at Fukuoka Kokusai Center. The Sumo tournament in Fukuoka lasts for two weeks in Fukuoka Kokusai Center in the harbor area in Fukuoka.

November Grand Sumo tournament i Fukuoka
It was the first time we saw a real Sumo tournament, and it was great fun!

Tickets go on sale the month before, so in early October, and sell out pretty quickly. You have a limited option to get tickets on the day, but you need to queue up early in the morning. The arena is not that big, so even the cheapest seats give you a good view of the sumo action.

I recommend that you pre-book your tickets for the Fukuoka Sumo tournament in advance online here. You can choose between different types of tickets and prices depending on where in the hall you want to sit.

Make sure to head to the lobby and entrance hall, where sumo-related snacks and souvenirs are for sale.

Sumo is great fun to watch and a big part of Japanese culture. If you are lucky, you get to see Sumo wrestlers wandering the Fukuoka streets during their time off.

Fukuoka Illumination – October, November, December

Hakata Old Town Illumination Walk – October/ November

In October/ November, 18 temples and shrines in the Hakata area of Fukuoka are illuminated. Go for a temple walk in Hakata and see the mystical ambiance the illumination gives. During this illumination, several temples and shrines that are usually closed will be open to the public.

The illumination is from 18:00 until 21:00 (the last admission is 20:45).

Illuminated temples that have free entrance:  Shojoji Temple, Ichigyoji Temple, Katsuragi Jizo, Kushida Shrine (main stage), Machiya Folk Museum, Hakata Traditional Craft and Design Museum, Jotenji Temple, Hakata Sennen-no-mon.

Illuminated temples that require an entrance fee/ ticket: Hongakuji Temple, Zendoji Temple, Myotenji Temple, Kaigenji Temple, Kushida Shrine main hall, and Shimekake Inari Shrine, Ryuguji Temple, Jotenji Temple, Tochoji Temple, Myorakuji Temple, Engakuji Temple.

Hakata Station Christmas Illumination – November & December

We visited Fukuoka at the end of November, and the street in front of JR Hakata Station was full of stunning illumination.

Christmas winter illumination Fukuoka
Beautiful winter illumination in front of JR Hakata Station.

There was also a Christmas Market with European food, Christmas ornaments, and of course my favorite – glühwein! 🙂

Canal City shopping mall with its outdoor piazza and canal is beautifully lit and has a Christmas show going on every hour or so.


How To Get To Fukuoka

Air

Fukuoka Airport is well connected with international and domestic flights (Tokyo, Osaka, and Okinawa). The airport is located right outside Fukuoka city. It is easy to get from the airport to downtown Fukuoka; the subway takes only six minutes to reach Fukuoka’s main railway station JR Hakata Station.

Or you can opt for a private car and driver that will get you from Fukuoka Airport to your hotel quickly and easily.

Train

Fukuoka’s main railway station, JR Hakata Station, is a transport hub in Kyushu and is the Shinkansen bullet train’s terminus from/ to Tokyo. You can easily get to/ from Nagasaki, Osaka, Hiroshima, Beppu, Kumamoto, and Kagoshima.

Bus

Long-distance buses depart from Fukuoka Kotsu Centre (next to JR Hakata Station) and Nishitetsu Tenjin Bus Terminal. You can, for instance, take the bus to/ from Tokyo, Osaka, and lots of other cities and places in Kyushu.

Boat

Ferries run between Hakata and Okinawa as well as other islands off Kyushu.

Beetle high-speed hydrofoil run between Fukuoka and Busan in Korea, while Camellia Line runs ferries.

How To Get Around Fukuoka

Fukuoka has three subway lines, in addition to city buses:

  1. Kuko Line (orange) – The most convenient one and the one you will use the most. It runs from Fukuoka Airport to JR Hakata Station and on to downtown Tenjin
  2. Hakozaki Line (blue)
  3. Nanakuma Line (green)

Fukuoka also has an open-deck tourist sightseeing bus that takes you around to the city’s main attractions and tourist sights.

Fukuoka Tourist City Pass

Besides the regular bus- and subway passes, overseas visitors can buy the Fukuoka Tourist City Pass.

It is a 1-day pass that gives you unlimited rides on buses, trains, subways, and ferries. And also discounted special privileges at tourist attractions, museums, and activities. It costs 1500 JPY = US$ 14 (adult) and 750 JPY = US$ 7 (child).


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What to do in Fukuoka, Japan      What to do in Fukuoka, Japan

Do you plan on adding Fukuoka to your Japan itinerary? Maybe to see the Sumo Grand tournament? Which attraction in Fukuoka do you look forward to seeing the most? We would love to hear from you in the comment area below. If you like this article and find it useful, please share it on social media. Thanks! 🙂

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Written by Maria Wulff Hauglann

Maria is a Norwegian travel nerd who has explored more than thirty countries on four continents. She holds a master's degree in Computer Science, as well as an MBA. In 2014 while on a year-long trip across South East- Asia, Maria co-founded the travel blog Nerd Nomads to help others get out and explore the world. In 2018 she left her day job permanently for a life of full-time travel. See our about page for more about Maria.

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