Top 5 Things to Do in Fukuoka
While most of the ‘big name’ locations in Japan (such as Tokyo, Chiba, Kyoto and Osaka) are situated on Honshu, Fukuoka is a major city in the south of Japan, located in the north of Kyushu. A cosmopolitan area that has long been welcoming foreigners to Japan, Fukuoka is a top tourist attraction for both locals and those from abroad. Fukuoka has a wealth of attractions that entice all types of visitor, whether you’re looking for natural beauty, historical sites, fantastic food, or something else altogether. In this article, we’ll look at the top five things to do in this bustling city.
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Ohori Park and Traditional Japanese Garden
Any decent city around the world is well equipped with green spaces – when you’re living and working amongst millions of other people, having a little green spot to escape to or a park bench to eat your lunch on is an important part of staying sane. In Fukuoka, locals find themselves well cared for in this respect by Ohori Koen.
The park has a large pond in the middle which was modelled on West Lake, a stunning area of natural beauty in Hangzhou, China. There are paddle boats to be hired and ducks to be fed, as well as a lovely walk through the middle of the pond over picturesque bridges and small islands teeming with birds.
In one corner of the park is a traditional garden which I highly recommend visiting. You need to pay to enter but it is well worth it – the garden is exquisite, and an oasis of peace and quiet if the park itself is crowded with pleasure makers. Sip some green tea in the sukiya style tea house and wander around the perfectly manicured walkways. Though only built in the 80’s, entering this garden feels like stepping back in time and would make a wonderful setting for a kimono-clad photo shoot.
Canal City Shopping Centre
Canal City is a shopping center in its own class. First, the building itself is fairly magnificent, with a central water feature hosting fountains that squirt water way up into the air, visible from the surrounding terraces. It’s a popular place for events such as musical performances and the shape of the building makes it feel open and airy, unlike the other major shopping area in Fukuoka, Tenjin Chikagai, which is underground.
Canal City is a great place for dining as well as shopping. On the 5th floor is Ramen Stadium – 8 different noodle restaurant all famous for their delicious dishes. There are quite often queues out the door, which are testimonies to how great these noodles are. Each restaurant has its own signature dish and individual style – check out the menus outside to see which one takes your fancy.
Also located in the Canal City Shopping Centre are countless little cafes and places to relax. One of the most popular is the Moomin Cafe and gift shop. If you’re not familiar with the Moomins, then the sight of grown adults sitting at a table with a cup of coffee and a giant stuffed toy perched on the chair beside them might seem a little strange. However, these characters (harking from the imagination of a Swedish-speaking Finn) are hugely popular in Japan and the cafe does a roaring trade.
If you’re flicking through your guidebook wondering why Fukuoka Castle hasn’t been listed as a top place to visit in Japan, that’s because it isn’t technically a castle. Like so many fortresses of antiquity, Fukuoka Castle is now a ruin and there is very little left of the original structure.
However, that doesn’t mean that it isn’t worth visiting. These particular castle ruins are some of the best kept in Japan and are a popular tourist destination. It makes for a lovely place to walk in and offers lovely views across the city. Information boards are posted around the area to give you some historical context, and as there is no actual castle to visit, the grounds are free.
Near the foot of the hill is a museum you can visit too – the Korokan Ruins Museum. This too is worth your time and while the museum is small it has some fascinating exhibits, as well as a reconstructed house built in the traditional style.
Near to the main train station, Hakata is one of the most interesting parts of Fukuoka and you can learn all about its history at the little local museums, conveniently located just a few minutes apart. First is the Hakata Traditional Craft and Design museum, built in 2011. This little gallery showcases some traditional Hakata craft-ware that is produced even today. Perhaps the most beautiful are the hakata ningyo, the traditional dolls with smooth white faces and beautifully designed clothes.
Also in the area is the Hakata Machiya Folk Museum. On the ground floor, you can discover all about Hakata life in days gone by and also find out about the Hakata Gion Yamakasa festival which is a major celebration in the city. Upstairs there is more artwork on display and a little studio where a craftsman sits making the traditional hakata dolls. Next door is another building where people are at work on giant old looms making the traditional woven fabrics of the area, and next to that the gift shop where you can find all kinds of treasures.
The Fukuoka Art Museum (close to Ohori Park) was one of our top attractions when we visited earlier this year. There was a wide variety of exhibits and plenty of local flavours, too. Sadly, the gallery is currently closed for renovations and will not be open to the pubic for the next few years.
However, the Asian Art Museum in Fukuoka is still very much open for business and is a great attraction for anyone interested in Asian art. They specifically aim to collect art that showcases local styles from all over Asia, and with nearly 3,000 pieces of artwork, they have a stunning collection.
Fukuoka is a fantastic place to visit and whether you are there for a month or just for a night, you’re bound to find something to peak your interest. Have you visited Fukuoka? What were your favourite attractions in the city? Leave us a comment and let us know!
Want to know more about living and travelling in Japan? Click here: 5 Amazing Things to Do in Japan.