7 Ways to Experience the Modern & Ancient in Fukuoka
See All That Fukuoka Has to Offer
One of the largest cities in Japan, Fukuoka has tons to offer in the form of parks, attractions, historical landmarks, food and shopping. It’s a largely modernized city, which is reflected in the buildings, young population and its attraction for technology startups.
While it’s no Tokyo in terms of population or density of things to do, Fukuoka is the perfect place to travel off the beaten track as it’s attracted tourists from all over the world who are hungry for a city that boasts an independent spirit and attractive nightlife.
These are a few of the many attractions and things to do in Fukuoka, no matter what your age or taste.
Fukuoka Castle Ruins
Situated inside Maizuru Park, the Fukuoka Castle Ruins attract visitors wishing to learn about Japan’s feudal past while enjoying the beautiful scenery in the process. Once the largest castle on the island of Kyushu, all that remains now are a few turrets, gates, walls and its 3,000-foot-long moat, which surrounds the interior part of the castle.
Visitors can enjoy walking along trails and gazing out from lookout spots year round, although the most popular time to visit is in the spring. At the end of March, cherry blossom season starts, blanketing the surrounding areas with pink flowers.
Another must-see piece of historic architecture, the Shofukuji Temple was the first zen Buddhist temple in Japan. Zen was introduced to Japan by the priest Eisai who studied its technique in China.
While visitors aren’t allowed inside the sacred temple itself, the exterior of the temple and the surrounding buildings alone are worthy of admiration. The Sanmon gate has a small koi pond and bridge leading up to it and Butsuden Hall, with its cloud dragon painted ceiling, also houses a few historic statues of Buddha.
Photo Credit: iStockPhoto
Every major city has a centrally located park to enjoy and Ohori Park is Fukuoka’s. Featuring a large pond surrounded by a walking path, the park is where locals and tourists alike can go to relax and unwind in the midst of a bustling harbor metropolis.
Small islands connect to the main park with elegant stone bridges punctuated with decorative pavilions.
There are also a number of attractions located within the park including the Fukuoka Art Museum, Japanese Garden and Gokoku Shrine, which all charge separate admission fees.
One of the top reasons most people venture to Fukuoka is to sample the food. Every evening, food stalls, called yatai, pop up along the river offering a magical ambiance unique to the area.
Foods like yakitori skewers, ramen and oden (fishcake stew), are available in the small stalls, which typically serve seven to eight people. Perusing the stalls can be a great way to meet the locals and brush up on your Japanese language skills, while enjoying delicious comfort foods along the way.
Canal City is a Las Vegas-style mall and entertainment complex, much like the Venetian or Bellagio. The complex is home to over 250 local and international shops, a ramen “stadium,” which boasts eight different styles of the dish from across Japan, a cinema, two hotels and game center.
A large canal also runs through the shops, culminating in a fountain with water shows every half hour.
Fukuoka Yahuoku! Dome
Like Americans, the Japanese love their baseball and even consider it their national sport. Fukuoka is home to the Yahuoku! Dome, a Roman Colosseum inspired stadium with a retractable roof where their home team, the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks, play.
While Japanese baseball rules are essentially the same, the field, strike zone and ball are all smaller than their American counterparts. Aside from baseball games, the stadium regularly hosts concerts with Japanese, and international acts and is part of a commercial and entertainment complex called Hawk’s Town.
Photo Credit: Trip Advisor
For a completely offbeat experience while in Fukuoka, catch a performance of Anmitsu Hime. Essentially a Japanese drag show musical, for over 30 years, Anmitsu Hime has attracted all manner of people, from Japanese businessmen to foreigners to groups of girlfriends.
Although it’s only offered in Japanese, the show’s outrageous antics and over-the-top costumes and sets allow even non-Japanese speakers to enjoy the humor and spectacle. Performers love audience participation and may even grab foreigners to bring onstage for one of their numbers.