Japan City Guides: Fukuoka
- population: 1,300,000 on the northern coast of Kyushu.
- energetic, lively and cosmopolitan urban center.
- largest city in Kyushu and expanding fast.
- growing international links to Korea and China.
- food specialities: Hakata ramen, nagahara ramen, mentaiko (spicy cod roe).
- one of Japan's most pleasant places to live.
- major new developments at Canal City and Hawks Town.
- superb, modern architecture
- home of the Hakata Gion Yamakasa Festival
Historically split by the Nakagawa River between the castle town of Fukuoka to the west and the merchant quarter of Hakata to the east, Fukuoka is fast-becoming one of Japan's most dynamic and livable cities with many interesting attractions to entice visitors.
Only a few relics of Fukuoka Castle still remain but the former castle's grounds now form Ohori-koen - Fukuoka's largest park which contains the Fukuoka Art Gallery (Fukuoka-shi Bijitsukan) with paintings by Chagall, Miro and Andy Warhol alongside contemporary Japanese artists and pieces from earlier periods.
Northwest of Ohori Park is Momochi - an area of land reclaimed from the sea - which is the location for the futuristic, glass-clad, 234-meter high Fukuoka Tower and the interesting Fukuoka City Museum (Fukuoka-shi Hakubutsukan) with its prized exhibit, the Kin-in Gold Seal presented to the ancient Japanese king of Na by China's Han Emperor.
Momochi Seaside Park is a 2km man-made beach with an enjoining quay - 'Marizon' - packed with shops, restaurants & cafes.
A short walk to the east is Hawks Town - a modern development built by the Daiei group and housing the Japan's biggest hotel - the exotic five-star Sea Hawk.
Next door is the equally impressive Fukuoka Dome, home to the Fukuoka Daiei Hawks baseball team. Nishijin and Tojinmachi are the nearest subway stations to the area.
Fukuoka has a deserved reputation for the quality of its cuisine
Fukuoka has a growing international reputation for its striking modern architecture.
East of Ohori Koen are the entertainment area of Tenjin and the modern business district of Hakata. Tenjin has the city's most popular nightspots along Oyafukudori plus lively shopping at the ACROS building next to Chuo Park and the IMS plaza. On the Hakata side of the Nakagawa River lies Kushida Jinja, a shrine dating from the 8th century which plays host to the annual Gion Yamakasa Festival (July 1-15).
The Hakata Machiya Folk Museum (Hakata Machiya Furusato-kan) presents a history of Hakata and a demonstration of silk weaving by local craftspeople. The Nakasu entertainment and red-light area is built on a sand bar in between the Nakagawa and Hakata rivers and houses over 3,000 bars and restaurants with a reputation for expense.
Part of the Hakata Riverain shopping complex is the modern Fukuoka Asian Art Museum - with exhibits of photography, sculpture and avant-garde installations.
Kushida Shrine founded in 757AD is Hakata's main shrine and displays one of the floats used in the Gion Yamakasa Festival.
Fukuoka Tower and Canal City are two of Fukuoka's standout modern buildings.
Canal City, Hakata, is a recent futuristic development containing a huge multi-screen cinema, hotels, bars, restaurants and shops in its multi-colored precincts. Canal City was American architect Jon Jerde's first Japan project and completed in 1996.
The overall design of Canal City was inspired by the cliffs of Arizona and the building is Fukuoka's most interesting shopping experience. Canyon-like in construction, the complex features cafes and stores that appear as you wander by the twisty-turny curves of the canal. Access from Nakasu-Kawabata subway station or a ten-minute walk from Hakata Station.
Shofukuji Temple is the oldest Zen temple in Japan dating from 1195 when it was founded by the priest Eisai on his return from China.
Five minutes from Gion subway station and within walking distance of Hakata station, is Japan's oldest Zen temple Shofukuji Temple (聖福寺), founded in 1195 by the monk Eisai on his return from China. Shofukuji Temple contains the graves of many of Fukoka's feudal lords and the former main gate of Fukuoka Castle.
Hakata's most famous festival dates back to 1241 AD and is held every year from July 1-15. This festival honors Kushida Shrine, the guardian shrine of Hakata.
The colorful Gion Yamakasa Festival owes its origins to Priest Shoichi, the founder of Jotenji Temple, who was carried around the city on a portable shrine spreading holy water, to ward off an epidemic. Kushida Shrine is located where Canal City north joins Kawabata shopping arcade.
Fukuoka Tower is one of the city's iconic modern buildings
Day Trips from Fukuoka
Yanagawa is a beautiful town with canals and well preserved buildings. Yanagawa is known for its delicious river eel.
Dazaifu is only 15km from Fukuoka and is famous for its historic temples and Tenmangu Shrine.
All are worth the visit if you have an extended stay in Fukuoka and are easily reached by train or car.
Tourist Information Centers in Fukuoka
The Tourist Information Center (9am-7pm; tel 092 431 3003) in JR Hakata Station has hotel lists, maps and sightseeing information in English and other languages.
Fukuoka International Association Rainbow Plaza 8F IMS Building has wide-ranging information for both tourists and residents, a library and free Internet access for students and visitors.
Prefectural Information Center (092 725 9100) ACROS Fukuoka Bldg. 2F
Fukuoka Now is a free monthly whats-on listings magazine online at
Teaching English in Japan's Fukuoka links directory
Bull statue at Fukuoka's Kushida Shrine
Regular buses run to and from Fukuoka Airport to Hakata Station and Tenjin (15 mins). The Fukuoka Airport subway station is only 5 mins from Hakata Station and 11 mins from Tenjin.
There are domestic flights to most destinations including 50 flights daily to Tokyo (1 hour 45 minutes). International destinations from Fukuoka Airport include Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, China, Korea and the USA.
View of Fukuoka city from the Hilton Hotel, Fukuoka
Trains to Fukuoka
Hakata station is the main train station with Shinkansen connections to Osaka (2 hours, 30 minutes), Kyoto (2 hours, 45 minutes) and Tokyo (5 hours) and from March 2011 to Kumamoto and Kagoshima to the south on the Kyushu Shinkansen.
For up to date train timetables and fare information for Kyushu click here
Hakata Station connects Fukuoka to Tokyo, Hiroshima and Osaka to the east by shinkansen.
There are long distance buses to several destinations from Fukuoka including Osaka, Nagoya and Tokyo departing from the Kotsu bus station near Hakata Station and the Tenjin bus center. Buses from Fukuoka to Miyazaki take four hours.
Ferries to Fukuoka
There are regular ferry and hydrofoil services between Hakata and Busan in Korea. See our Japan travel section for further details. There are also ferry services from Kita-Kyushu (Kokura) to Osaka, Kobe, Matsuyama and Tokyo.
Cybac Internet Cafes
24-hours branches in Tenjin, Nishin & Nishi-dori.
Fukuoka Subway Video
Fukuoka has many standout hotels as well as western-style hotels, ryokan and hostel accommodation to suit all budgets.
Choose from a full list of hotels in Fukuoka which are located mainly near Hakata Station and in the Tenjin entertainment and dining area - recommended places to stay in Fukuoka include the Best Western Fukuoka Nakasu Inn, the Candeo Hotels Hakata Terrace, the four-star Hotel Qurega Tenjin, the business hotel Hotel Smart Inn Hakata Ekimae near Hakata Station convenient for the bullet train from Hiroshima, Osaka, Nagoya or Tokyo, the Toyoko Inn Hakata Nishi-Nakasu and the up-market Hotel New Otani Hakata.
View Fukuoka Map & Map of Kyushu in a larger map