What to Do in Fukuoka
Washed out Zen Temples. A shrine lit in an orange glow from a large lantern. Thick ramen pork broth bolstering your energy. Fukuoka, a surprising delight. What to do in Fukuoka.
While I normally like to experience places that aren’t super well known, I don’t usually like to start my trips in them. In fact, because flights into the large cities are often much cheaper, I never have. I have always started my journey in Rome, London, Paris, Seoul, etc. But because I live in the south of Korea, it is actually cheaper for me to fly into lesser mentioned Fukuoka. So what to do in Fukuoka?
The Morning ~ Temple Time
A day isn’t a long time to see a city. Luckily, many of the wonderful things to see are in a central area. I still managed to do them in a weird order and zig-zagged unnecessarily. Either way, start your morning with a few temples! Temples generally open a lot earlier than other Japanese attractions. Jotenji, Tochoji, and Shofukuji are in a triangle near each other. Check out which one is closest to you and make a circle. Tochoji is the only one with opening hours, not opening until 9AM.
Shofukuji was by far my favorite. Even though it was raining and the “zen” characteristics of the raked sand were not there, it was still beautiful and peaceful. You felt a bit like you’d stepped into another world, cut off from the city. Tochoji has a fair amount of information and some nice buildings. And with Jotenji, maybe there are normally more things to see and it was closed, I’m not sure, either way there wasn’t really anything to see. So if you can’t make it, don’t worry 😀
Next head to Kushida Shrine. This wound up being my favorite shrine in Japan, and it was the first one I saw! There was some kind of ceremony occurring when I first went, so there were many people. It didn’t detract from sight in the slightest. I went back later for pictures, since it’s close to everything. There weren’t many people the second time. I actually especially loved the smaller shrine tucked away to the left. You can also see the traditional floats for the festivals over this way as well, which are really impressive. As I mention in my Vital Japan Tips post, I highly recommend you buy a stamp book if you plan to visit any shrines or temples. It’s so fun to watch the calligraphers at work!
By now the smaller museums in the area should be open! Head to Hakatamachiya Furusatokan – or the Hakata Museum. I think the entrance fee has either been removed or they don’t have one in the off season. It was free for me. It’s a nice look into Hakata/Fukuoka’s history. Just down the street is another little (free) museum Hakata Traditional Craft and Design Museum. I liked this one the best. Both museums offer weaving demonstrations, but this one was a lot more straightforward for asking to try. The design museum also has a lot of nice information on the traditional Japanese crafts I fell in love with in Japan. Making dolls, silks, paper, etc. Really lovely and neither take long to see.
Where to Eat
For lunch I would absolutely recommend you head to Ichiran Ramen. Many people will tell you it is only for tourists, but I definitely saw Japanese people here, and the line can get really enormous. I recommend it for lunch because there will be less people. Luckily, I only waited about 10 minutes. I loved this ramen chain so much I wound up eating there three times in 10 days and buying their kit to make it at home. It’s so good. So. So good. You get to customize your ramen, which is why I think I loved it. I love firmer noodles, which is the Fukuoka style, and a thicker pork broth. All completed by a half-boiled egg. Ugh. I’m already hungry. The Ichiran chain started in Fukuoka (as did Hakata Ramen in general which is characterized by non-curly noodles and pork bone broth). It’s served in rectangular bowls, the only location to do so. I like it better in the square bowl for some reason. Anyways. Go. It’s 950Yen for the basic ramen and an extra 130 yen for an egg.
After lunch, head to the Fukuoka Castle Ruins. There’s not a ton to see here, but I really like archaeology and there’s a nice little free museum that explains things. Climbing up to the top affords you some fantastic views of the city. If you have time after this, I would head to Momochi Beach. Unfortunately I did not have time as it was winter and rainy and the sun set very early. It looks really nice and it was the only chance I had to see a beach in Japan, so I’m quite sad I missed it.
When it starts to get dark, head to Canal City Hakata for some shopping. I was really skeptical because I didn’t plan to do much shopping in Japan. But it’s worth it just to wander the shops, watch all the fountain light displays, and enjoy yourself. You can easily spent an hour or two here looking through places, or sitting and watching the show.
End out your day or start your next morning at FIKA Coffee. This was my favorite cafe in Japan! It’s really cosy and has some fun drinks. I ordered the hot chocolate where you add your own decorated pieces of chocolate to your hot milk. Cute! The cheesecake was also delicious 😀
If you want to get some drinks, I wish I’d headed to one of the newer Yatai stands near the Bank of Japan Fukuoka Beach. Creative alcoholic coffee drinks at Megane sound awesome! I regret not going alone, as apparently it’s perfectly normal for people to go alone to bars and drinking establishments. Oh well, next time!
I am still surprised with how much I liked Fukuoka. It’s a much more casual city than most. When I go back to Japan I’d like to spend a couple days to really let the city soak in! I hope my post on what to do in Fukuoka has helped you decide!
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