Fukuoka prefecture sits atop the Japanese island of Kyushu. The area is a little more friendly and casual than Tokyo, and although it is not as big, it attracts a lot of tourists. Super tasty ramen, massive modern cities, and a unique local culture, Fukuoka has it all.
The prefecture has become a travel hub connecting not only Japanese islands but other countries as well. Often used as a jumping off point from Japan to South Korea or Taiwan, Fukuoka airport is notoriously cheap, just like the prefecture itself. Full of mod-cons, but without the price tag.
So if you love the amount of things to do in Tokyo, but find the crowds and traffic just too overwhelming, then here are 15 things for you to do in Fukuoka.
1. Shop at Canal City
Simon Desmarais on FlickrCanal City is the biggest shopping centre in the prefecture and a must see for lovers of Asian architecture. Not only does the mall boast a 13 screen cinema, over 250 shops, and a wide range of restaurants, but also has an artificial canal running through the middle of it. The water rushes through the open area between the shopping complex and the hotel attached to it, and filters into a beautiful water fountain that is also used as a stage for live performance throughout the day.
Canal City looks like it jumped out of a science fiction anime. It's tall, curved buildings, with balconies on every level make you feel like your shopping in the fanciest of locations.
2. Visit Fukuoka’s Cat Island
These cats are tough, feral felines who came to the island for the fish and then multiplied. Now they stay for the tourists who come bearing treats. It’s not taken them long to realize visitors are a source of food, so they’re not shy at all. If you want to drown in a sea of cats, this is the place for you.
3. Eat Hakata Ramen
ayustety from Hakata ramen shop Shibaraku in Nihonbashi Kakigara Cho, Chuo on Wikimedia CommonsHakata ramen is local favorite. Often translated to Pork Bone Broth, visitors could be forgiven if they found that name off putting at first, but Hakata Ramen is actually a beautiful porky stew that is even richer and more filling than the soy sauce broths used in most parts of Japan.
Named after the main business district, Hakata ramen is recognisable by its light creamy colour and the lack of a super size option. If you really must have a bigger portion, you can get a refill, this is because the noodles are thin and absorb the broth too quickly, meaning that in the extra time needed to eat a super size, the noodles would have gotten soggy.
Hakata ramen is known throughout Japan because of its tastiness, and can now be found in every major ramen shop, but trying it in its birthplace is a must.
4. Swim at Momochi Beach
5. Drive Across Kanmon Bridge
6. Go Big at Miyajidake Shrine
そらみみ on Wikimedia CommonsThey do things big at Miyajidake Shrine. This shrine is home to not only the biggest taiko drum in the world, but also the biggest Shimenawa, or rope talisman. The rope is quite a sight being 2.5 meters in diameter and 13.5 meters long. It is wound tightly, draped across the shrine like an obese snake. The drum has a diameter of 2.2 meters and is housed in it’s own separate building. Every year, on New Years Day, the drum is struck and can be heard for miles around.
7. Relax in Ohori Park
STA3816 on Wikimedia CommonsUnfortunately Fukuoka Castle was torn down during the Meiji restoration, but its moat lives on in the beautiful Ohori Park. Right in the middle of the massive city of Fukuoka lies an oasis of picturesque serenity. The old castle moat has been converted into a fabulous public park where you can relax and escape the concrete surfaces. The moat was refashioned to resemble China’s west lake, and has three islands dotted around the water, all connected to the shore by narrow bridges. Each of them provides a wonderful view of the park.
8. See the View From Fukuoka Tower
Nissy-KITAQ on Wikimedia CommonsSpeaking of wonderful views, Fukuoka Tower is known to be the best view in the whole prefecture. Perched just above the amazing feat of engineering is Momochi artificial beach. From the top of the tower you can see out towards the Genkai Nada sea between Japan and South Korea, or in land to Momochi park and Fukuoka city beyond it. Standing at an impressive 234 meters high, making it one of the tallest towers in Japan, Fukuoka Tower is a must see. The tower is particularly spectacular as it twinkles in the night time. The night lights make for a powerfully romantic atmosphere or just a pleasant backdrop to the city.
9. Get Spiritual at Nanzoin Temple
10. Explore Dazaifu Tenmangu
11. Have Fun at Uminonakamichi-seaside-park
12. Ride a Canal Boat in Yanagawa
13. See Kabuki at Kaho Gekijou Kabuki Theater
におんさき on Wikimedia CommonsThis is a fantastic way to get a real taste of authentic Japanese culture. This theatre offers special tours so you can see the behind-the-scenes sections of the theatre, and even get to play with props and act out your very own scenes on the stage. Kabuki theatre is odd, maybe even deranged, but it is uniquely Japanese and always makes for an unforgettable experience. Don’t worry if you don’t speak too much Japanese either as a great deal of the performances are to music, and any parts that are not will be full of physical comedy and bizarre body language.
14. Ride the Mt. Sarakura Cable Car
15. Eat Hakata Torimon
This is quite possibility the most delicious omiyage from Japan. If you don’t know, omiyage are presents that people in Japan buy for their friends and co-workers after visiting somewhere. There are all sorts of different kinds in beautiful packaging showcasing the location you’ve just visited, but Hakata Torimon is extremely delicious. Made from white sweet bean paste mixed with butter, this cake has a truly decadent filling.