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Fukuoka Travel Guide Though off the beaten track, Fukuoka has something to offer everyone

Street Food Fukuoka

Fukuoka is rich in history, known for uncommon food culture and exciting nightlife. Located just 5 hours away by train from Tokyo, it’s Japan’s largest city in the southwest and one of the destinations in the Kyushu region. Because of its location just across a narrow strait from Korea, Fukuoka has a rich history of exposure to Mainland Asia and to the Western world, even while the rest of Japan was isolated. Founded in the 7th century, it has long been considered a gateway to the rest of the world, with large cultural influences from China and Korea. There are plenty of things to occupy your time on a break from one of Fukuoka’s many golf courses. So if you are looking for a break from golfing, you have plenty of options to see Fukuoka’s exciting, off-the-beaten-track side.

Things to do

Neon Skyline of Fukuoka

Fukuoka is wealthy in cultural and natural attractions, making it an ideal destination.

It’s the nightlife capital of Kyushu, with tons of izakayas, bars, and nightclubs to choose from. Nakasu, a neighborhood nestled in between two rivers, has been famous for its large red light district since the Edo era. It’s now better known for its yatai, or open-air food stands, lit up in different colors at night. Take a stroll down by the neon colored street and sample some of Fukuoka’s local snacks!

Canal Street Hakata, a mall created around an artificial canal, is a great place to stop for souvenirs. Boasting over 250 shops, two hotels, and several theaters, it’s one of the largest malls in the world.

Fukuoka Castle was once one of the largest in Japan, with 47 turrets and a moat. Now in disrepair, the ruins are still stately, preserved as a park that visitors can enjoy.

The ACROS Building is designed to look like a hanging garden, with over 50,000 plants for visitors to enjoy, making it a garden retreat right in the heart of the city.

Events and Seasonal Happenings

Fukuoka Festival

One of Fukuoka’s biggest attractions is the Hakata Dontaku, an annual port festival held in late spring. It is marked by parades in traditional dress, with traditional te-odori dancing, which draws 2 million visitors to watch the festivities every year.

For the first two weeks in July, the Hakata Gion Yamakasa brings a festive atmosphere to the city.  The climax of the festival is an early morning race between teams carrying parade floats weighing up to one ton. Celebrated for over 700 years, this has been designated as an important intangible cultural asset by the Japanese government.

In the winter, the Christmas illuminations in Canal Street Fukuoka are festive and fun, with a massive paper art Christmas tree suspended over the decorations.

If you visit during Kyokusai no en in early spring, you can see a reenactment of a shrine ritual from the Heian era (9th-12th century) where traditionally dressed participants write poems by the stream while they wait for a floating sake cup to reach them. Early spring is also worth visiting for the 6000 plum trees around the Dasaifu temple.

No matter when you visit, you are sure to find something fun and exciting to do in Fukuoka.

Flavors of Fukuoka

Street Stall for Hakata Ramen in Fukuoka

Fukuoka is noted for its wealth of delicious food. As the ‘gate’ to the rest of the world, Fukuoka has been serving traditional Japanese food with international flair for hundreds of years!

If you arrive in winter, you have to try Motsunabe (もつ鍋). This type of hotpot is a winter specialty native to Fukuoka. The main ingredient, beef or pork intestines, is cooked in a broth of garlic and chili peppers and is perfect for enjoying in the cold weather. With a traditional finish of champon noodles, it is sure to be satisfyingly filling as well.

Every region has its own spin on ramen, and Fukuoka is no exception: Hakata ramen is noted for the straight fine noodles in a pork bone broth, richer and creamier than other prefectures.

You also will want to try Mentaiko (明太子) or pollock roe in chili peppers. Now a traditional ingredient in Japanese cuisine, Mentaiko was introduced from Korea via Fukuoka. There are plenty of places you can purchase this to try by itself, but the best way is combining with other foods: mentaiko pizza, mentaiko onigiri.


What to Bring Back

Mentaiko is used to make so many different Fukuoka souvenirs

For the visitors who fall in love with the taste of Mentaiko, a visit to the factory to stock up on fresh mentaiko or flavored foods, from chips to mayonnaise to rice crackers, is a must. If you would prefer different souvenirs, there are plenty of places you can visit to get your omiyage. Fukuoka is famous for food, so the most popular gifts are of course edible, from menbei rice crackers to sake. For the non-food gifts, Hakata dolls are famous around the world, as well as textiles produced in Kyushu.

Where to play!

There are 56 courses in the Fukuoka area, check them all in English here 

Where to Stay

Ana Crowne Plaza offers an on-site fitness center, a traditional Japanese bath and sauna, and an indoor heated pool with a glass rooftop. Conveniently located in the city center, it comes with extensive dining options.

If you’d like to try a traditional ryokan, then Fukudokoro Aburayama Sanso provides a tranquil atmosphere. Each room has a view overlooking the garden, with cherry trees blooming in spring. There is a sento available, as well as reservations for in-room massages. From September to March, guests can try fugu sashimi or raw pufferfish, which can only be prepared by specially trained chefs.

Wrap up

Hakata Station in Fukuoka

If you are looking for something off the beaten track, Fukuoka has something to offer everyone, whether it’s a vibrant nightlife or rich cultural history or delicious food. The exciting summer festivals and the delicious and filling winter food specialties make it a fun and exciting destination at any time of year.


Getting there

From Tokyo, 1 hour 45 minutes from Haneda to Fukuoka airport, or 5 hours by rail from Tokyo Station to Hakata Station.

From Osaka, 1 hour 15 minutes from Itami Airport to Fukuoka Airport, or 2 ½ hours from Shin-Osaka to Hakata Station.


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