The largest city on Japan's island of Kyushu, Fukuoka is a site of pilgrimage for noodle lovers, an enthralling historic city, and one of Japan's baseball centers. Fun, friendly, and compact, it's a great Japanese destination.
Food in Fukuoka is all about ramen. The city is one of the best places in the world to find gourmet noodles from restaurants like Ichiran.
Fukuoka has been around for 1,500 years or more, and there are plenty of historical attractions, including the Fukuoka Castle, the Sumiyoshi-jinja Shrine, and the wonderful Hakata Machiya Folk Museum.
The city has some exceptional museums to explore, with the huge Kyūshū National Museum chief among them. Don't miss the 15th-century artworks by Masanobu Kano.
For a unique sporting thrill, catch some traditional Sumo wrestling at November's Kyushu Basho, or enjoy something more familiar when the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks take to the baseball diamond.
Just offshore, you can hop across to Shikanoshima, where the great seafood restaurants and peaceful scenery is a real delight.
Located in the heart of Fukuoka, Ohori Park is a stunning venue for picnics, walking and reading. With a large pond in its centre, the park has benches, moats and pavilions that make it a wonderful place to sit and think. Built in a classical style, the garden is expertly manicured and boasts beautiful views of the surrounding cityscape. Three islands in the pond are connected to each other and the rest of the park by stone bridges that evoke Japan's history. If you're looking for a place to rest and recuperate from your travels, there's no better place to go.
A visit to Japan would not be complete without a stop at a Shinto shrine, and this one in Fukuoka is as good as any. Dedicated to safe travel at sea, the shrine is the place where people travelling between Korea, China and Japan would stop at to pray before they departed across the sea. Those who study Shinto know that this shrine was seen as one of the most important ones in all of Japan. During your visit, you'll be able to catch a glimpse of Japan's old religion, as well as numerous artefacts, paintings and documents from the city's past.
The last of Japan's National Museums to be opened to the public, this establishment seeks to allow the public to learn about Japanese culture as it relates to the broader context of Asian culture and history. As the first national museum to be opened in 100 years, it's got a unique modern feel that will strike you as soon as you see the exterior. Inside, the feeling continues with a high-resolution video system and experimental displays. The collection spans ancient, medieval and modern Japan.
After crossing over on a ferry, you'll be ready to explore this verdant island park. It's best to visit between April and September, as each month brings beautiful flowers to the island including brilliant Marigold, Hydrangea, Dahlia and Cockspur Coral Tree blossoms. Restaurants and shops offer guests an authentic Japanese experience - in fact, most of the people who come here are visitors from other parts of Japan. The park is also popular for Japanese weddings.
This shrine is ornate and beautiful, but much less crowded than some of Japan's more well-known places of worship. The grounds include multiple buildings with intricate wooden carvings and various statues and paintings. Additionally, there are pools and gardens that complement the peaceful and otherworldly character of the place. Upon visiting, you're sure to note that the shrine has been kept in very good condition, as it has been preserved against the ravages of time by the local faithful.
Spring is the ideal time to go. Between March and early June, the city is adorned with gorgeous cherry blossoms and the temperature rises into the 70s.
Fukuoka Airport (FUK) has good connections to the rest of Japan (and Hawaii as well). Take the subway into town. It's only two stops away, and costs ¥340.
Fukuoka's Hakata Station is the southern terminus of the "bullet train" (Shinkansen) and is around 5 hours from Tokyo.
Those driving from Tokyo can take highway 1 to Kyoto, the Sanyo Expressway, then the Chugoku Expressway across the water to Kyushu. The Kyushu Expressway will then take you to Fukuoka.
Moonlight runs buses from Osaka, while Willer runs services from Kobe and Kyoto and Nishitetsu buses run from Tokyo to Fukuoka.
The Hilton Fukuoka Sea Hawk has sublime views, the Hotel Nikko Fukuoka is a good upscale option, while if you want to get away from it all, try the Luigans Spa and Resort.
Daimyo - probably Fukuoka's trendiest area, Daimyo has bars and restaurants aplenty and is at the foot of the castle hill.
Tenjin - Fukuoka's downtown center, Tenjin is a shopping hub as well as home of the spectacular ACROS music hall and the nightlife of Oyafuko-dori.
Nakasu - wedged in between two river channels, Nakasu used to be the red light district. Now, it's a neon-lit wonderland with thousands of restaurants.
Fukuoka's subway is excellent. Prices vary by distance traveled, but you can purchase day passes for ¥620. Single bus tickets cost ¥100.
All taxis in the city have meters and charge an initial fee of ¥580 followed by around ¥730 per mile.
Car rental companies in Fukuoka include Nissan Rent-A-Car and Toyota, and rates can be as low as ¥5000 per day.
Tenjin is definitely the place to shop. With huge department stores like Fukuoka Mitsukoshi and Tenjin Core, shopping fans will be in paradise.
Fukuoka's supermarkets include Seiyu and Aeon. Expect to pay about ¥700 for a gallon of milk.
Ramen is king in Fukuoka. Great places to grab gourmet noodles include Hakata Issou and Mengekijo Genei, which is set up like a culinary theater. Expect to pay about ¥1,000 for a fantastic bowl of food.