Resting on the northern shore of Japan’s Kyushu Island, Fukuoka is a vibrant city where ancient traditions meet modern life. Historic temples, bustling markets, and a culinary scene that’s second to none offer a tapestry of experiences. From the Tōchō-ji Temple in the central Hakata district to the electric energy of Nakasu, discover all the incredible things to do in Fukuoka, Japan, with this quick & easy guide!
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Canal City Fukuoka
Make your first stop in Fukuoka the “city within a city”: Canal City Fukuoka. Nestled in the lively Hakata district, this dynamic shopping and entertainment complex has everything from boutique stores and gourmet restaurants to theaters and a games center.
Canal City Fukuoka is built along the banks of the Nakasu River and is an architectural marvel. Designed by architect Jon Jerde, the complex features a canal running its center and walls adorned with actual fragments of the Berlin Wall.
Prepare for a sensory feast! Explore an extensive range of shops featuring local and international brands, tuck into delicious food, and catch a live performance at the theaters. Don’t miss the iconic water fountain show that is nothing less than mesmerizing. Catch the nighttime spectacle for a more intimate experience.
INSIDER TIP: Head to the rooftop garden with panoramic views of Fukuoka’s skyline. It’s a quiet escape from the crowds of the complex below.
For unparalleled panoramic views of Fukuoka and the surrounding Hakata Bay, head up to the iconic Fukuoka Tower. Standing at 767 feet high, this soaring icon sits on the scenic waterfront and is the tallest seaside tower.
Constructed in 1989, Fukuoka Tower has become a symbol of the city, subtly reflecting Japanese tradition in its design. As you ascend the tower, each of its three observation decks reveals a new dimension of the sprawling cityscape framed by the bay’s sparkling waters.
Each tower floor is uniquely designed to represent a different element of nature. From ocean waves to vibrant greenery, the interior is a subtle nod to the surrounding environment.
Fun fact! Fukuoka Tower often uses its colorful exterior to communicate messages, celebrate events, or raise awareness for social causes. Keep an eye out for the symbolic displays that add a dynamic touch to the Fukuoka skyline.
INSIDER TIP: For an exclusive experience, join one of the stargazing events held on the observation decks. During these special nights, you can enjoy a guided tour of the celestial wonders above Fukuoka.
Fukuoka Castle Ruins
Journey back to the 17th century with a visit to the Fukuoka Castle Ruins. This historic site is located in Maizuru Park in Chūō-ku and has a rich and fascinating story. Even if you only have 24 hours in Fukuoka, this attraction is a must-see!
Fukuoka Castle, also known as Maizuru Castle or Seki Castle, was built in the early Edo Period by Kuroda Nagamasa, the lord of the Chikuzen feudal domain. It was later torn down after the Meiji Restoration as an unwanted symbol of the feudal past. Today, only the ruined walls and a few turrets remain amidst lush gardens and picturesque moats.
Don’t miss the Horikawa Stone Wall, a meticulously constructed barrier for defensive and aesthetic purposes. Explore the Tenshukaku Museum next to the ruins. Unearth artifacts, maps, and dioramas that provide a more vivid understanding of Fukuoka’s feudal era.
INSIDER TIP: For the best experience, visit during cherry blossom season in spring, between late March and early April, when the park transforms into a sea of pink blooms. Walk through tunnels of flowers and join hanami (cherry blossom viewing) parties under the blossoms.
Momochi Seaside Park
Escape the city and head to Momochi Seaside Park for a seaside break. Situated at Fukuoka’s waterfront along Hakata Bay, this quiet, family-friendly park is perfect for a day at the beach.
Momochi Seaside Park forms part of the waterfront that was created for the 1989 Asia-Pacific Exposition. As you wander through the picturesque park, enjoy panoramic views of the ocean and the city skyline. Walk along the 1.5-mile, man-made Momochihama Beach and take a refreshing dip in the sea.
When you’ve had enough sun, venture into the nearby Fukuoka City Museum to better understand Fukuoka’s rich heritage. Then, go to the Hawks Town Mall to explore the boutiques and eateries for a delightful coastal shopping experience.
INSIDER TIP: Head to the hidden observatory deck on the park’s west side to catch the sunset. It’s less crowded than other popular spots and a great place for a picnic.
Another lovely spot to escape the hustle and bustle of the city is the lush Ohori Park. Originally a moat for Fukuoka Castle, this historic park traces its roots back to the Edo period.
The park’s centerpiece, Ohori Pond, reflects watery views of Fukuoka’s skyline and nearby Fukuoka Castle. Rent a swan boat or rowboat and leisurely navigate Ohori Pond. Keep an eye out for seasonal visitors like migratory ducks and herons.
Stroll along the winding paths, cross picturesque bridges, and explore Japanese gardens. Explore the park for remnants of Fukuoka Castle’s stone walls, offering a glimpse into its historic past. Join a yoga or fitness class often held in the park.
Find the secluded tea house tucked away on the park’s eastern side. Savor traditional Japanese tea and sweets while enjoying views of the pond.
INSIDER TIP: Visit during cherry blossom season in spring when the park transforms into a pastel wonderland. The surrounding cherry trees create a breathtaking scene, making it a prime spot for hanami (cherry blossom viewing).
Step into the cultural heart of Fukuoka at the Kushida Shrine. Dating back over 1,200 years, this Shinto shrine encapsulates the city’s rich heritage. Fondly called ‘Okushi san’ by locals, the shrine is dedicated to Amaterasu and Susanoo, the Shinto god of the sea and storms.
Kushida Shrine houses an impressive collection of mikoshi, portable shrines used in festivals. Enter through the towering Torii gate and explore the meticulously crafted structures used for vibrant festivals, including the iconic Hakata Gion Yamakasa Floats.
Admire the exquisite craftsmanship on these ornate structures carried through the streets during celebrations. The shrine becomes a focal point of lively processions and traditional performances during the annual Hakata Gion Yamakasa Festival in July.
Attend the monthly Gokoku Shrine Flea Market held on the shrine grounds. Locals gather to sell antiques, handmade crafts, and unique trinkets – a perfect opportunity to snag a one-of-a-kind souvenir!
INSIDER TIP: Venture into the quieter corners of the shrine complex, and you might stumble upon secluded areas adorned with ema (wooden wishing plaques) that hold personal messages and dreams.
If you’re a history buff, visiting the Tochoji Temple is a must! Dating back over 1,200 years, this Shingon temple in Hakata is the oldest in Japan. Its iconic feature is the massive wooden Buddha, known as the Fukuoka Daibutsu (Fukuoka Great Buddha), the largest of its kind in the country.
Behind the impressive Nio-mon gate lies a sanctuary adorned with meticulously tended gardens, intricately carved halls, and vivid colors. You can’t miss the 35-foot-high wooden statue of the Great Buddha, which is breathtaking. Over 5,000 small Buddha statues are enshrined behind the figure.
Venture into the quieter corners of the temple grounds, particularly the Zen Garden, where you can enjoy a few moments of tranquility. For an extra memorable experience, explore the temple on a guided night tour when lanterns illuminate the grounds, creating an ethereal ambiance.
INSIDER TIP: Join one of Tochoji’s calligraphy workshops. Under the guidance of skilled instructors, you can try your hand at traditional Japanese writing.
Uminonakamichi Seaside Park
Grab your swimming gear and go to the Uminonakamichi Seaside Park for a day of fun in the sun! Set on the Uminonakamichi Peninsula, this vast park is a family-friendly paradise with swimming pools, lush gardens, an amusement park, and a petting zoo.
Initially developed for the 1989 Asia-Pacific Exposition, Uminonakamichi Seaside Park has become one of the most popular places to enjoy a break from the city. Sprawling lawns and vibrant gardens offer beautiful views of Hakata Bay.
This park has something for everyone: huge playgrounds, a summer fortress, a petting zoo for the kids to go-kart rides, a six-swimming pool water park, and a putting green. If you need a break from the sun, pop into the Japan Vehicle History Museum.
INSIDER TIP: The best way to explore the massive park is on two wheels! Rent a bicycle at the park entrance and follow the coastal cycling path. It’s an active way to uncover the park’s secluded spots while enjoying the views.
Dive into the underwater world to explore marine creatures from the waters surrounding Kyushu at Marine World. This aquatic wonderland is situated in Uminonakamichi Seaside Park and offers a fascinating blend of education and entertainment.
Home to 70 tanks and over 20,000 fish of 350 species, Marine World focuses on the aquatic life of Tsushima’s warm current. Marvel at large pelagic fish in the main tank that spans two floors of the aquarium. Watch live images and commentary from divers in the tank.
Watch dolphins and sea lions in action at live shows and explore vibrant underwater ecosystems, from coral reefs to deep-sea dwellers. Join one of the park’s behind-the-scenes tours and gain deeper insights into the care and training of the incredible sea creatures.
INSIDER TIP: Visit the outdoor pools during the feeding times for a more dynamic and interactive experience.
Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine
Venture out of Fukuoka to the historic city of Dazaifu to discover the timeless allure of Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine. This magnificent Shinto shrine is dedicated to Sugawara no Michizane, a scholar, poet, and politician of the Heian period.
As you pass through the vermilion torii gates and stroll along the inviting paths lined with plum trees, you’ll feel connected to Japan’s rich cultural tapestry. Originally established over a millennium ago, the shrine has evolved into a revered place of academic prayers and poetic charm.
Admire the iconic bridge and lush gardens, each element steeped in symbolism and history. Find the statue of the cow near the main hall and rub its nose for good luck and academic success!
Dazaifu Tenmangu is famous for its spectacular plum orchard. There are over 6,000 plum trees on the shrine grounds, and they bloom beautifully during late winter and early spring. According to legend, Michizane had a deep connection with plum trees, and the blossoms are said to represent the deity’s spirit.
INSIDER TIP: If you’re a poetry enthusiast, join one of the occasional waka (traditional Japanese poetry) workshops on the shrine grounds. It’s a unique opportunity to channel your creativity in the same surroundings that inspired poets for centuries.
Nokonoshima Island Park
When you need to connect with nature on your Fukuoka itinerary, head to Nokonoshima Island Park. Situated in the Genkai Sea just off Fukuoka’s coast, this island getaway is an idyllic escape for nature lovers. Accessible by a quick ferry ride from Meinohama Port, it’s perfect for a half-day or day trip! Enjoy spectacular panoramic views of Fukuoka City, the mountains, and even as far as the iconic Shikanoshima Island on the ferry ride over.
Originally a farming island, Nokonoshima became a botanical haven with vibrant flower fields and lush greenery. The park’s seasonal flowers, from tulips in spring to sunflowers in summer, paint a picturesque landscape against the backdrop of the sea.
While the main flower fields are a significant draw, don’t miss the hidden seasonal gardens. Wander off the beaten path to find smaller, more secluded areas with unique blooms. The autumn garden, featuring a variety of chrysanthemums, is breathtaking.
INSIDER TIP: Venture to the island’s northern tip for a secluded spot with unobstructed views of the Genkai Sea. This quiet area offers a peaceful retreat where you can enjoy the natural beauty of Nokonoshima in solitude.
Want to experience Fukuoka’s lively spirit? Venture onto the small island of Nakasu, the city’s buzzing neon-lit entertainment quarter. Packed with trendy nightclubs, karaoke parlors, izakaya pubs, and gaming arcades, this is the place to be when the sun goes down. It’s also one of the coolest places to stay in Fukuoka if you’re looking to get close to all the action.
Kick off your Nakasu adventure at the Nakasu Yatai district, where an array of open-air food stalls awaits. Indulge in Hakata-style ramen at Nakasu Ramen Shinpukusa, or savor local favorites like yakitori at the iconic Yatai Mami-chan.
Dive into Nakasu’s history at Sumiyoshi Shrine, a hidden Edo-period gem. Tucked amid the lively streets, this Shinto shrine offers a serene retreat. Explore the well-preserved architecture and soak in the spiritual ambiance.
As night falls, Nakasu transforms into a bustling nightlife hub. Dive into the diverse array of bars and izakayas. Bar M is a cozy spot for craft cocktails, while Yotteba is the place for superb sake.
INSIDER TIP: Look for Nakasu’s hidden ‘snack’ bars, like Nagarekawa Bar Time. Located on upper floors, these intimate spaces provide a chance to connect with locals. Share stories, enjoy a drink, and experience the genuine warmth of Fukuoka’s sociable spirit in these off-the-beaten-path gems.