Fukuoka, Japan is a large city close to Seoul. Its proximity to Korea has helped to establish its historical reputation as a trade centre and as a crossroads of different cultural influences. You’ll find this fame well-earned as there are many cultural institutions, museums and shopping malls to enthrall a visitor. Have seven days and trying to figure out what to do in Fukuoka? Let this guide show you how to make your one-week holiday in Fukuoka a meaningful one.
Top Tips For A Fab Week in Fukuoka
The perfect way to start on your trip after arriving at Fukuoka Airport is to head to your hotel after a seven hours flight and tidy up. I recommend looking for a hotel such as Candeo Hotel which is located conveniently near Canal City Hakata, a shopping mall located in the city square. It takes its name from the canal running through the shopping complex and ranks amongst the world’s largest malls. You will be able to find everything from local Japanese shops selling curios to international brands here. Tuck into lunch on the 5th floor of this mall, aptly named “Ramen Stadium”, which houses the best Japanese ramen stalls here. Another option would be to stay at Solaria in Tenjin, another underground shopping mall near the city square. The hotel is also minutes away from the museums in Fukuoka.
Canal City (night view)
After lunch, stroll to the Fukuoka castle ruins, a short 5 minutes away from the city square. The castle ruins are in Maizuru Park. Visit between late March and early April to see cherry blossoms in full bloom. The largest castle on Kyushu in the past, it has since been mostly torn down except for the gate towers and parts of the moat system scattered across the park. Stroll back to the mall for dinner and take a well-deserved rest.
Fukuoka castle ruins | Img credits: CC by 3.0 / Masgatotkaca
In the day, take the JR line from Canal City Hakata and get off at Nishijin Station. Japan trains run efficiently and the places are easy to navigate to, but if you are worried, there are many iOS and Android apps to help you plan your way around the city. Once you’re at Nishijin Station, you’ll see the dome arch entrance of the Fukuoka City Museum. Step into the museum to learn about how this international tourist hub developed since ancient days. There is also an interactive hub for children to dress up in traditional ethnic wear and take photos.
While you are there, walk to the iconic Fukuoka Tower and have lunch in the many cafes on the first floor. The tallest beach tower in Japan, you’ll get to see views of the sea and experience the strong sea breeze. During Christmas, the mirrors adorning the tower are decorated with Christmas lights, lending the place a fairytale-like atmosphere as colourful rays emanate from the tower.
Fukuoka tower | Img credits: C.C by 3.0/STA 3816
Today, do some shopping at Kyushu’s largest shopping town, Tenjin. If you are staying near Grand City Canal, take the train or walk 15 minutes to Tenjin. There you’ll be able to admire the cobblestones lying the pavement and walk in the comfortable shelter while browsing amongst the shops there. When you are done, take the train and stop at Daizaifu. See the Daizaifu Tenmangu Shrine, a famous temple that draws worshippers seeking divine aid for their studies. Admire the historical shrine and try out the plum liquor made from the plums grown onsite!
Tenjin | Img src: C.C by 3.0/JKT-c
In the noon, walk to the Kyushu National Museum, the fourth national museum in Japan. Have lunch beside the museum at Ume no Hana Dazaifu Bessou Shizen-an. Ume no Hana here has a traditional Japanese garden reminiscent of ancient teahouses. You have the option of sitting with the knees tucked in on mats or with leg space to stretch out.
Stroll back to the temple after lunch and go to the back of the Komyozenji Temple. The beautiful rock gardens behind the temple await, with rocks arranged into the Chinese character for “light.” Another part of the garden uses green moss to represent land and white sand to represent the sea. I recommend sitting quietly for a few contemplative minutes to enjoy the pristine quality of the park.
Rock garden behind Komyozenji Temple|Img credits: C.C by 3.0 /Chris 73
Today, take a break from travelling and walk around the city area instead. Just adjacent to Grand City Canal is the Hakata Traditional Craft Center. Hakataori textile and Hakata dolls, the most famous traditional crafts of Fukuoka are exhibited there. If you sign up for the ongoing workshops, you get to learn from the masters themselves!
Hakata dolls |Img src: C.C by 3.0/Ningyou
For lunch, go across the road to Hakata’s oldest shopping street with about 130 shops lining a 400-meter long arcade. Gift shops are selling traditional dolls and other items, and there are also many ramen stalls to choose for from lunch. Finally, visit the Fukuoka Asian Art Museum nearby. Many art pieces from local artists, as well as other Asian artists, are displayed here. You can spend hours admiring the versatility of art styles from the various artists and finally have dinner nearby.
Wake up in the morning for a stroll across Maizuru Park. The destination this morning after breakfast is an adjacent park called Ohori Park. Wander further down Ohori Park to reach The Ohori Koen Japanese Garden. The man-made mountain has been built with waters flowing around the large lake as well as the rock garden. Rest at one of the many tea rooms dotting the landscape. For lunch, head for the entrance of Ohori Park, where a quaint udon restaurant Chabugama is located. The setting is cafeteria like, but the food is far from being canteen food, with delicious udon served.
Ohori Park | Img src: C.C by 3.0/STA 3816
If you are still around the area, rent a boat to go on the lake in Ohori Park. A scenic way to enjoy the park leisurely! After hours in Ohori Park, view the Korokan historical museum. The building was one of the ancient guest houses for foreign diplomats, built in Heian period (794-1185). It is said that the house had welcomed ambassadors from China from the end of 7th century to 11th century.The museum exhibits the architectural remains of the building and trading items of the time.
Today, visit a shrine that houses a sumo deity. The locals say that rubbing the deity’s arms and belly brings strength and luck. From the JR Hakata Station, walk to the Sumiyoshi-jinja-shrine. On the shrine’s premises, there is a traditional Japanese style Noh performance stage that offers many photo-taking opportunities. If you are lucky, you may be able to witness Noh performances held there.
Sumoyoshi jinjia| Img src: C.C by 1.0/Saijen Jiro
10 minutes away from the shrine is the Fukuoka fish market. If you’re a fan of fish markets in Japan, you’ll know what to find: many stalls selling fresh seafood here, and housewives haggling loudly with wholesalers over the prices. Get to sample cooked seafood here as well. Vendors are friendly and may try to chat with you. Go upstairs for lunch or dinner at a little shop selling Japanese delicacies or walk around the area to visit the many ramen restaurants nearby.
Fukuoka fish market | Img src :C.C by 2.0/LWY
As your week draws to an end, do some last minute shopping at the Hakata Riverain Mall by Takashimaya. Touted as a luxury-goods mall, you’ll find branded goods here and quality souvenirs to bring home for your trip. Try out the macrobiotic café located on the first floor. Evah Dining serves food that is organically sourced and only made of macrobiotics (brown rice and other whole grains). Eat healthily and shop happily before your flight back to Singapore.