Fukuoka 福岡市 is a city situated on the cost of the northern part of the Kyushu island (the one of the south of Japan). It is the biggest city there and so the capital of the Fukuoka Prefecture. Fukuoka is also the fifth largest city in Japan with 1,5 million of inhabitants.
Sometimes the city can be named Hakata. Hakata was the port and the merchand district associate to the city. It was famous for trade, mostly with China. Today Hakata is the name of the center ward of Fukuoka and its train station.
The city is the economic center of its region. It is the biggest headquarter of startups and hubs of the country. Lot of famous and important firms are based there as Air Next (a subsidiary of All Nippon Airways), Kyushu Railway Company or Television Nishinippon Corporation.
Lot of famous people in Japan comes from Fukuoka as the J-Pop singer Ayumi Hamasaki.
In Fukuoka the climate is temperate. The summer is very hot and humid. The rainy season is from march to September. The winter is quite col mostly in January. December is the driest month.
So the best seasons to go to Fukuoka are spring and autumn, not too cold, not too warm and out of the rainy season!
What to see:
There is a lot of places to visit in Fukuoka but we will see the most pleasant and interesting ones here.
Hakata station is the biggest station of the city situated in the center. Around there is a large shopping area with shops, cafes and restaurants.
You can go to the famous department store Daiso (also implanted in the Harajuku’s Tokyo district). It is a 100 yen shop in which you can find a large panel of things (beauty, kitchen, decoration…). It is a good place to find Japanese style presents very cheap!
The roof of the station offers a nice view of the city, that is especially beautiful during the night.
Tenjin is the name of a center ward in Fukuoka. From the Tenjin station there is lot of shopping attractions and a nice lively atmosphere. In that city, pedestrian crossing offers cute melodies!
The station itself has a shopping area with beautiful shops (mostly clothes and accessories) that are a little bit expensive. But there is also some goodies shops very cute with lot of coloured Japan figures (Rillakuma, Ghibli’s ones, Hello Kitty…), cute animals (kitty, frog, alpaca, monkey…) and manga characters’ goodies (that depends on the actual trend).
There is also Tower Records, a music shop to buy your favourite J-pop CD !
Finally, and my favourite one: the stationery shop In Cube. It proposes lot of nice things to see, to buy and to offer, as notebooks, stickers, stamps, cards, tape… All is cute and very convenient!
Out of the station you will find a covered market: Shintencho. It offers various shops as library, yukata shops, restaurants and food shops, clothes shops … It’s nice to walk by here, there is always a song on the background for enjoying your shopping. The symbol of this market is the big decorated clock tower that offer a little show every hour.
Beside that market there is a lot karaoke! One of the favourite Japanese hobby. So let’s sing and try it! You can rent a room for the time you want and also command some food and drinks to have a pleasant time. In the same street you can also find pachinko places (one other Japanese hobby!). Before leave that place I recommend to go into a game center. You can play games and have fun but also take some purikura that are the famous Japanese photobooth to make very cute pictures!
From there you can join the nice Kego Park. It is a small but charming park with some water and flowers. It’s a nice place to rest and observe Japan’s life. It is a place where parents with their children, young people performing in dance shows or old Japanese walking their dog for example used to come. It’s a nice place to relax but also (if you are not too shy) to start a conversation with Japanese people if you want to share culture and know more about them. You can make very good meets here because people are more open in that context. Residents like to say that Fukuoka has the nicest people!
Beside the park you can see a little shrine with charming little torii and fox sculptures.
On the other side of the Tenjin area (that is simply on the other side of the station) you’ll find a white shopping center named Tenjin Core. In there the shopping is cheaper than in the Tenjin station. There is lot of very trend clothes and accessories so you will meet lot of young people!
Be careful because the building itself is separate on two distinct zone those are accessible only by the ground floor (you can easily get lost or only see a little part of the shopping center without even realise it!). There is also a 3th zone that is pink and a little bit separate but accessible by the Tenjin Core building.
All markets and shop centers in Japan seems small but are actually very wide!
By Tenjin Core building you can also join the underground area that is very long and offer lot of restaurant and shops
Before leaving Tenjin district I recommend you to have a look to two big shops (that are presents in all the country). One is selling electronic material, it is named Big Camera. The other is LOFT. It is a 4 floors shop in which you can find lot of different things. For example, cooking tools, stationery, home decoration and equipment, phone cases… It is the most convenient shop in Japan!
-ACROS Fukuoka the green building
From Tenjin district, you can go to an imposing (60 meters high) green building named ACROS Fukuoka (10 minutes walk). The building is beside the river. The side of the building that is in front of a park, offers terraced green roof. 35 000 plants from 76 species are present here. Inside there are offices and some shops.
Behind the green building you can find a little vermillion shrine in a little garden. At the enter a mini bridge to across the water in which some koi carps swim peacefully. At the back of the garden, the shrine and two cow’s statutes. A secret spot to see before going to the shopping center near to there.
If you continue your way from Tenjin ward passing by the green building you arrive to visit Canal City (5 minutes walk) that is a big entertainment and shopping center (about 250 shops).
The center is very awesome with an unique and interesting architecture. All red with green vegetal balconies. There is a river and a little green path to walk by.
In Cana City you can also watch a musical water show (every 30 minutes) or frequent free mini concerts that are done there in a circle place that is almost in the middle of the water. The scenery is beautiful. That is a very interesting place to go.
Concerning shops my favourite is one in which you can find little figures in glass. The figures are very precise and well made. There’s one for every life occasions as birthday, wedding…
Out of Canal City, at the end of the day, along the Naka river that pass though the city, you can eat in yatai stalls 屋台. They are street food little stands with some chairs, identified by red lanterns and here specialised in Hakata ramen (also named Kyushu ramen). It is ramen noodle in soup with vegetables and pork. It is a local meal very famous all over the country and very delicious!
-Ohori Park 大濠公園
It’s a big Park in central Fukuoka which count 3 islands in the middle of a pond. The park was built between 1926 and 1929. Elegant stone bridges link the islands.
It’s a very nice place in which people relax, do pleasuring strolls by the water, do jogging, walk pet and also rent swan’s shape boat.
You can admire turtles in the lake and the nice Chinese style garden and take pictures under the vermillion pavilion.
You can visit the Fukuoka Art Museum that has a permanent collection with Buddhist statues of the 11th century but also pints and sculptures from modern European artists as Miro and Dali.
Near the Ohori park you can visit the gold Gokoku Shrine and its garden passing by a big typically torii gate.
-Fukuoka Castle ruins:
Fukuoka castle ruins are situated in Maizuru park in the middle of the city. It was the largest castle of the Kyushu island during the Edo period (1603-1827). Unfortunately, the castle is now almost completely destroyed. There are only walls ruins and some turrets to remember the magnificent of the castle. There is also a higher point of view of the city from a citadel. The castle and its park are 15 minutes walk from the Ohori park.
-Fukuoka Tower and Momochi beach
Out of the center of Fukuoka there is the 234 meters Fukuoka Tower placed on a beautiful sand beach. On the top of it (134 meters) from the observatory room you can admire the city with a 360° panoramic view.
At the foot of the tower, there is Hakata beach and Fukuoka’s modern waterfront named Seaside Momochi on a reclaimed place. You can find nice restaurants and shops before going to enjoy the sea and even have a swim! Or simply admire the sunset.
In Fukuoka like in all the Japan, mostly during the summer period, takes place lot of festivals as Hakata Gion Matsuri.