Fukuoka is one of the best places in Japan because it features so much to do, is incredibly compact, and has a mix of seaside, mountains, and history. Divided into three distinct areas, Downtown, Momochihama, and Dazaifu, we are sure you will be able to enjoy the distinct character of each.
Fukuoka Downtown Area
The main area between Hakata Station and Tenjin Station features a number of interesting things to do. If you plan your trip right, you might get to see one of the biggest festivals in Japan, but if not, don't worry, as there are plenty of other things to keep you occupied during your Fukuoka stay.
Hakata Gion Yamasaka Festival
Hakata Gion Yamakasa Festival takes place over the first fifteen days of July, ending with the main event on July 15th. Thousands of semi naked men wearing loincloths race through the street carrying decorative one tonne floats. The floats looks spectacular. Spectators shout, “Oisa oisa,” applaud, and splash the men with water to keep them cool. On the final day of the festival, be sure to wake up early as the first team leaves the starting line at Kushida Shrine at 4:59am. Over one million spectators are expected for the main event each year, so if you are one for crowds, we highly recemmond this incredible festival.
Kyotei Boat Racing Stadium
Kyotei Boat Racing Stadium is a 1397 capacity atrium and is one of 24 boat racing stadiums in Japan. A sport that is unique to the county. Six boats do three laps of the 1,800 meter long course. These power boats, Kyotei, travel at speeds of 80 km/h, and the excitement of a race is simply unmissable. You can place a small wager if you are feeling flush, and might even take home some winnings. There are twelve races each day, usually beginning from 10 a.m. and include a mix of both men and women competitions.
Admission: ¥ 100
Ohori Park is a nice place to relax and escape the city, and perfect for a picnic. It has cycling, jogging, and walking paths. Flat concrete, with distances marked out on the floor, making it a perfect place to train for a marathon, and often you will see numerous athletes throughout the day doing just that. The route encompasses a huge lake in the middle of the park. Stages, restaurants, and an art museum, and the remains of Fukuoka Castle, offer plenty of further distractions.
Hakata Pier feautures an array of quality seafood restaurants, and often along the port, there are fishermen lined up catching the freshest fish. Inside the main building there is a small aquarium, and some great souvenir shops. From the tower you can get a good view of the ocean, and learn extensively about fishing methods and the history of Hakata Pier. The tower and port are both illuminated at night, offering excellent night views and great place for an evening walk by the sea.
Hakata Station is masssive. The lower floors offer cheap restaurants, the middle offers a vast array of department stores and shops, the upper floors are quality but expensive restaurants offering various cuisine from around the world. You could lose a whole day exploring Hakata Stationm, however, the roof terrace is perhaps the highlight. Stepping out onto the tenth floor there is topiary everywhere, mostly rabbits and bears. There is a miniature train track for children to ride on. In the distance you can watch the planes land at the nearby Fukuoka Airport, mountains watch in the background. The view is sensational. There are gardens, waterfalls, fish, a viewing platform, and a shrine. The view over the city is incredible, and the terrace is open until the late evening, making it a great place to watch the setting sun over Fukuoka.
Along the Naka River there are numerous Yatai (Food stalls). During the early evening, the area starts to become packed with people wandering from stall to stall, or stopping off at the occasional bar. The small outdoor Yatai each serve their own type of specialty food and offer six to eight seats at each establishment. A great place to go after a busy day at work; or after a lazy Sunday afternoon stroll in the park. Because of the size of the stalls, it is a great place to strike up a conversation with a Japanese salaryman, or practice a little Japanese of your own, all the while enjoying the flow of the river and the distant neon.
- Guidebook from Planetyze about Fukuoka Downtown Area
- Reviews from TripAdvisor about Fukuoka Downtown Area
- Tours of Fukuoka Downtown Area
The area of Momochihama features Momochi Seaside Park, along with the impressive Fukuoka Tower. The area around the tower has many interesting attractions, and is home to the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks baseball stadium.
You will be greeted and made to feel most welcome as you ascend the 108 meter shaft. "The lift takes seventy seconds. The tower is 234 meters tall. The viewing platform stands at 123 meters. The tower has been built to withstand magnitude 7 earthquakes," the attendant will tell you with a smile as you take the seventy second ride to the top floor. The view of Fukuoka City is wonderful, and in the distance you can see Hakata Bay, in the opposite direction you can enjoy views of the Sefuri Mountains. At night the tower is illuminated, and these colours change with each season.
Admission: ¥ 640
On the second floor of the building opposite Fukuoka Tower is Robosquare. This is absolutely the place to be in Fukuoka if you like robots. If you want to learn about robots. If you want to take part in robot workshops It is free to enter. Inside they have a robot museum and a little shop selling robots and other kits. Some robots you can play with, others you can talk to. At 2pm every day there will be a live performance. A place that can be enjoyed by children and adults alike.
Fukuoka Disaster Prevention Center
The Fukuoka Disaster Prevention Center is a facility that realistically simulates various disasters for visitors in case of emergencies: an excellent way to promote citizen safety. It also contains a museum of fire fighting and earthquakes. Entry is free, and so is the one hour tour. During the tour you can watch a video about safety, before learning how to react in a number of simulations. Strong winds, how to extinguish a fire, how to deal with a room full of smoke, and escape safely. There are doors that simulate water pressure; a car door sits under water and you have to push to see if you would be strong enough to escape. Photographs of earthquake disasters hang on the walls to remind people of the risks of earthquake. There is an earthquake simulator where you are given the opportunity to hide under a table with a pillow on your head and get rocked by an earthquake of magnitude 7 on the Richter scale.
- Guidebook from Planetyze about Momochihama Area
- Reviews from TripAdvisor about Momochihama Area
- Tours of Momochihama Area
Dazaifu is the area in Fukuoka that is most reminiscient of Kyoto. It features temples, shrines, the ruins of a seven-storey pagoda, and the Kyushu National Musuem.
The ruins of the medieval Dazaifu Administrative Buildings are today inside a huge public park at the foot of Mount Ono. In the area around the ruins is the Exhibition Hall featuring historical records and scale buildings as to how the area used to look. The thousand years old remains have a ghostly feel to them, and are enveloped in the distance by forests and hillside. Take some time to explore the area within and around the park, and you will stumble across numerous temples, shrines, and small museums.
Kyushu National Museum
Opened in 2005, it is the first new National Museum to open in Japan in over 108 years; and the first to elevate the focus on history over art. It even has an on site conservation centre, the biggest in Kyushu. The museum itself focuses on prehistory to the Meiji era. The 4th floor feautures an ongoing exhibition, the rooms are immaculately clean; the glass looks polished on the hour. The museum is in fact huge. Individual rooms house various collections of historic artwork or fossilised ruins. There are no photographs here, not even an opportunity to take one; two members of staff stand guard in every section. Throughout the year, the other floors feauture changing exhibits, so whenever you decide to visit, there is bound to be something new and exciting to see and do.
Admission: ¥ 420