Fukuoka is the capital city of the wider Fukuoka Prefecture in Japan and also has the claim to fame of being the biggest city on the island of Kyushu. With that in mind, this is an excellent place to start if you are looking to visit Kyushu which sees a lot of domestic tourists but far fewer international travelers.
This city makes a great base as it is full of modern amenities, but you can also check out its historical side in the form of temples, shrines, and ancient buildings. Another great draw in Fukuoka is that it is located next to the sea, so you can also enjoy time at the beach and get out on the water.
Here are the 15 best things to do in Fukuoka…
1. Travel to Uminonakamichi
Uminonakamichi is the name of a large sandbar in Fukuoka which makes up the border of Hakata Bay.
On a visit to Uminonakamichi you can also visit Uminonakamichi Seaside Park which is a riot of color as it also includes a number of pretty flower gardens and is also the site of the Sunshine Pool which has the claim to fame of being the biggest swimming pool in the west of Japan.
This is only open during the summer however, but you can also visit other spots such as Marine World here which is an aquarium with some 450 different kinds of marine life.
2. Walk around Yusentei Park
Yusentei Park is known for being the former home of the 6th lord of Fukuoka who would have built it in the 18th century.
The park is made up of a beautiful garden which is built in the traditional style as well as an ornate pond and this is a great place to come if you want to get out of the crush of the city.
You can also see a slice of Fukuoka as it would have been in the days of old.
3. Visit Hakozaki Shrine
Hakozaki Shrine is known for being one of the most important shrines in this part of Japan.
The original was destroyed when it was set on fire during the Mongolian invasion of Fukuoka in 1274 but it was then rebuilt and has been standing in this spot ever since.
Some of the sights to look out for here include a stone anchor that would have been used by Mongolian ships and a statue of Nichiren, a prominent Buddhist scholar in Fukuoka who foresaw the Mongolian invasion.
4. Sample the noodles
Fukuoka is known for its delicious local food and one of the best spots to visit in search of delicacies is Nagahama.
Here you will find the famous Nagahama ramen stalls which are known as yatai in Japanese and here you can sample some of these amazing chewy noodles cooked by the best in the business.
There are a number of different dishes to try so let your nose be your guide and opt for anything that looks good.
5. Scale the ACROS Building
The ACROS Building sits in the wider Tenjin Chuo Park and the main reason to come here is to check out the amazing roof garden.
The garden allows you to take in the fantastic views over the rest of the city and is set in a terrace which also encompasses a wider roof park.
To that end, you will find some 35,000 different plants on this roof terrace which are made up of some 76 different species.
If you can, try to come here in the morning when the light is at its best and note that the garden shuts at 4 pm every day, so unfortunately you can’t come here to catch the sunset.
6. Go to karaoke
Japan is known for its love of karaoke and with that in mind you should definitely give it a try when you are in Fukuoka.
There are a number of karaoke places all over town and some of these even come with elaborate costumes that you can try if you really want to get into the spirit of things.
You usually pay for karaoke joints by the hour in Japan and many also come with food and drink buffets with free flowing drinks for a set price.
7. Go for a walk in Ohori Park
Ohori Park is one of the prettiest and best known parks in Fukuoka and is also the home of an opulent fireworks display which takes place here in the summer.
Some of the highlights of the park include a jogging track as well as a traditional Japanese Zen garden which is next to the main field.
If you are in town in March and April then make sure you visit the part to take in all the beauty of the cherry blossoms that blooms here at this time.
8. Ascend Fukuoka Tower
Fukuoka Tower is one of the best places to come in Fukuoka if you want to see the city at its best.
The tower soars to a height of some 234 meters and from here you can look out over the glittering city below.
One of the good things about the tower is that it is lit up at night and it is also one of the national symbols of the city, so it is well worth a visit when you are in town.
Another highlight here is the fact that the tower has a restaurant at the top so you can have lunch or dinner and enjoy the views below.
9. Visit Sumiyoshi Shrine
Sumiyoshi Shrine is located close to the Naka River and would have been one of the most important places in the city in the days of old.
Keen enthusiasts may notice that many of the temples in Fukuoka are designed in the traditional Buddhist style, whereas this shrine is thought to be older in style and has a straight roof which is unusual for a building of this kind in the city.
If you are interested in religious architecture and history then make sure not to give this spot a miss.
10. Travel to Nokonoshima
Fukuoka is known for being located on the coast and with that in mind it also has a number of pretty islands which are located just off shore.
To get to the island you can take a relaxing ferry ride which takes around 10 minutes and lets you take in the stunning views across the water at the same time.
There are several islands to choose from but one of the best is Nokonoshima which has a radius of some 12 kilometers and is known for its prime position in Hakata Bay.
If you visit the island you can enjoy activities such as hiking and swimming off the coast, and if you want then you can also set up camp here for the night and enjoy an evening under the stars.
11. Go surfing
If you want to have an adventure in Fukuoka and fit in a workout at the same time then you may want to try a spot of surfing.
There are a number of beaches dotted around the city and you can go surfing here in the summer months if you visit some of the beaches in places like Futamiguara and Mitoma.
During the summer months the waves are not very big, so they mostly appeal to beginner and intermediate surfers who want to spend some time enjoying the water and the sea views.
12. Watch a sumo match
Many visitors who come to Japan want to see one of its cultural highlights in the form of an exciting sumo wrestling match.
One of the best places to do that on Kyushu is in Fukuoka and if you happen to be here in November then you can take in the prime sumo season.
Before the start of the matches, it is not uncommon to also see famous sumo wrestlers walking through the streets of Fukuoka to promote this amazing sport.
13. Visit Atago Shrine
Atago Shrine is one of the less visited shrines in Fukuoka which is a shame as it is also one of the prettiest.
The shrine is located on a hillside which means that you can also take in sweeping vistas from here all over the city and across to Hakata Bay and you will also be able to see the nesting storks for which this area is famous.
As you approach the shrine you can take in the torii gate which welcomes you and then walk up the stairs to get to the main shrine area.
This shrine is a little off the beaten track compared to other sites in the city but it is more than worth the effort to get here for the views and a glimpse of some of the religious history of the city.
14. Check out the robots at ROBOSQUARE
ROBOSQUARE, as the name probably suggests, is the place to come in Fukuoka if you want to check out some Japanese robots on display.
There are a number of different robots here that you can admire, and you will also be able to see workmen making and repairing them which give you a behind the scenes look at the robot industry in Japan.
There are also some toy robots here and some galleries which explain the robotics behind them, so this makes a great pick if you are traveling with younger guests.
15. Spend the day on the beach
One of the issues with many Japanese cities is that they are not located close to a beach, but it is here that Fukuoka excels as you are never far from a strip of sand.
One of the best places to come for a spot of sunbathing is Momochihama which is close to the Fukuoka Yahoo Japan Dome.
Here you will find a pristine beach and you can spend your days lazing on the sand, or you can also swim in the seas off the coast.
If you prefer to stay on dry land then you can also visit the main bars and restaurants which are scattered along the beachfront and which usually fill up in the late afternoon as people flock here to check out the gorgeous sunsets over the water.