Fukuoka: A 3 day visit to the biggest Japanese city on Kyushu Island

Many different experience and places to visit in Fukuoka

To bring you the very best of Fukuoka, we explored the city’s many different spots ourselves to see if they are worthy to be added to our list and we found some well known secret spots from the locals.

Welcome to Fukuoka!

When you first arrive at Fukuoka airport you will be surprised and happy to know that the airport is about a 20 minute bus/subway ride to the main central station Hakata.

For our list we broke up all of the different places into areas, so you know what is near what and don’t miss out on anything within the area. We also made a shareable google maps list so you won’t have to painstakingly search and put these locations onto your device. We will start by showing you the locations that are away from Fukuoka City and should be visited as soon as possible in case of bad weather.

Google Maps location containing all the places we talked about:

Dazaifu Area- Ancient Temples, History and Culture

Map showing the Daizaifu Area. You can see the large Daizaifu Tenmangu Shrine on the left and in the upper right see the Kyushu Museum.
The main street in Daizaifu with many shops offering souvenirs, traditional treats and local favorites.

Dazaifu Tenmangu

Among the hundreds of Tenmangu Shrines throughout Japan, Dazaifu Tenmangu is the most important one of all. Tenmangu Shrines are dedicated to the spirit scholar and politician Sugawara Mizchizane of the Heinen period. He is associated with Tenjin and is a Shinto deity of education.

The temple is a popular visit among people of all ages and especially for tourists. You can purchase a variety of good luck charms here from the shrine maidens around the main hall and paper fortunes that will guide your future. One of the most unique and intriguing fortunes sold here require water for the text to show up. For about 200 yen purchase the water fortune and take it to the small log area where water is running and let the water flow onto the paper and wallah your fortune shows up in Japanese.

Bridge leading to Daizaifu Tenmangu

One of the most popular charms are educational ones which are supposed to help students pass an exam and Dazaifu temple becomes a very popular place during the entrance exam season when a large number of Ema charms are hung by students. Ema charms are the wooden plates where shrine visitors write their wishes on and hang at the shrine and hope they come true.

Inside the temple. On the left you can see two girls squatting and using the temple water to see what their water fortunes are.

Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine Houmotsuden

A portrait of the scholar and politician Sugawara Michizane. On display is his famous sword and calligraphy writings.

Outside of the main Shrine at Dazaifu, you will find a medium sized building that stores, holds, and displays up to 50,000 items. When you first enter you will be greeted by the shrine maidens and have to pay a fee to see the exclusive items on display. One of the coolest things on display is sword once worn by Sugawara no Michizane himself, ancient manuscripts and texts such as the Kan’en, samurai swords and armor, and more.

It only takes a maximum of thirty minutes to appreciate and see everything, so why not stop by.

Top: Calligraphy — Left: Treasured Japanese Katana without handle — Right: Traditional Samurai Armor

Kyushu National Museum

Outside of the Kyushu National Museum

If it weren’t for the signs and posters around Dazaifu, I probably would have missed this large museum. The Kyushu National Museum takes about five minutes to get to the secondary entrance where you then take an escalator and moving sidewalk escalator to get to the entrance of the actual Museum.

The museum is the newest of four national museums in Japan and was built to illustrate the shaping of Japanese culture from a historical Asian perspective and displays thousands of artifacts from the Paleolithic Era to the end of the Tokugawa Era of the late 1860s. Inside the museum there are two large exhibitions on display that include a special exhibition and the regular exhibition.

Entrance to the Rainbow Tunnel which leads to the Kyushu Museum

There were no pictures allowed to be taken but in one spot in the special exhibition it allowed me to. The special exhibition was called Muromachi Shogun-War and Beauty Ashikaga Fifties and it was on the third floor of the museum. There were so many beautiful artifacts on display like artwork, clothing, relics and swords on display. Walking through you will see the history and cultural influences of the Muromachi Shoguns told in chapters. It took about an hour to get through and appreciate everything and in one of the pictures I took you will see 4 of 13 statues of Ashikaga Shogun from Kyoto and Tominin Exhibited for the first time outside of the temple.

4 of 13 statues of the Ashikaga Shogun on display

The main exhibit also known as the Cultural Exchange Exhibition is located on the fourth floor of the museum and is a large showcase gallery featuring exchanges between Japan and other countries from the Paleothic Era. There are over 14 smaller exhibits inside the main one and the objects within the museum are changed from time to time, so each visit is different.

Overall the museum was larger than I expected and it was interesting to see and learn more about Japanese history. It was well worth the visit and time.

Kasuya District, Fukuoka- Home to the Big Buddha

A map showing the area of Nanzoin Temple

The only things to see in this small area are the famous Nanzoin temple and its large bronze Buddha.

Nanzoin Temple and the Bronze Buddha

The Nanzoin Temple in Sasaguri, Fukuoka Prefecture is an amazing site to see and attracts one million visitors yearly. Many people believe that it is the world’s biggest bronze statue of a reclining buddha. It is about a 45 minute train ride from Hakata Station and well worth it. When you arrive at Kidonanzoin-Mae Station there is a five minute walk to the entrance of the temple.

Some interesting facts about the Buddha are that it is 41 meters long, 11 meters high and weighs 300 tons. The Buddha was a gift to Japan from Myanmar as a thank you gift for the financial and humanitarian aid Japan has given to Myanmar.

The sole of the Buddha’s foot holds a design called the Bussoku, or Buddha’s Foot. The design carries the precious teachings and merciful heart of the Buddha.

Nanzoin temple takes up a huge area with many shrines scattered over the hillside, along with having multiple statues and figures.The temple was built in 1899 and belonged to the school of Shingon Buddhism. This certain school revolves around nature and mountains, so many of the Shingon temples are hidden in forests or mountain tops. Nanzoin Temple is also famous for the Sasaguri 88, one of the most famous pilgrimage routes in Japan.

Hakata Ward, Fukuoka City

Hakata Ward is a very large area that stretches from Hakata station all the way to the bay. There are a lot of different places to visit in this part of the city and you can find many of Fukuoka Cities shrines and temples here.

Hakata Station and the surrounding area

Hakata station is Fukuoka’s main central train station where you can catch multiple trains going to all sorts of different places and directions, including the Shinkansen. There are also a lot of different places to shop and eat around the station so I recommend walking around and shopping.

Hakata Noodle Street in Hakata Station

One of the best kept secrets known among locals and true fans of ramen, Hakata Noodle Street is a must go place if you want to try some great award winning local ramen. Located on the second floor within Hakata Station, all of the ramen restaurants serve up various different types and styles of Hakata Ramen which taste out of this world.

No matter which vendor you pick, you won’t be disappointed. Simply approach a shop, put your money in the ticket machine and click on the menu items you want. There are pictures to help you out and don’t be shy to circle around a few times to make your big decision. It took me a long time to decide and I ended up eating at two different places.

Pokemon Center Fukuoka — Hakata Station

Located within AMU Plaza, the Pokemon Center is a great place for any Pokemon fan. You can get all sorts of different items Pokemon related like plushes, apparel, games, and even food.

Hakata Port Tower-Hakata

Hakata Port Tower is an observation deck and acts as a symbol of Hakata Bay. The observatory is free and is 70 meters from above the ground. It has a 360 view from the top. An interesting fact is that the tower was designed by Naito Tachu who built the Tokyo Tower and the second Tsutenkaku Tower.

Canal City- Hakata

https://canalcity.co.jp/english

Canal City is a huge shopping and entertainment complex in Fukuoka. One of the best parts is that is has the famous ramen stadium on the top floor, a taito arcade station and its special Aqua show available at multiple times in the evening. This summer the Aqua show was based around the popular anime Evangelion and throughout the mall you will see different Evangelion statues and even an Evangelion shop.

Here is a list of unique places and things in Canal City:

See the Evangelion or Space Invaders Aqua Show (Seen from Multiple Floors)

Eat at one of the Ramen places within Ramen Stadium (5th Floor)

TeamLab Future Park (5th Floor)

Taito Station (4th Floor)

Eat Crepes at Dipper Dan (B1)

Shonen Jump Shop (B1)

Multiple Gift Shops (B1)

Moomin Cafe (B1)

Ramen Stadium-Canal City

Inside the shopping mall at Canal City, Fukuoka you can find the famous Ramen stadium. Satisfy your appetite with local Hakata ramen shops that serve the creamiest and best Tonkotsu Ramen available.

Here you can choose one of seven vendors serving up different styles of ramen with their own twists. If you aren’t stopping here when you visit Fukuoka, your ramen game isn’t on point.

Here are all the ramen shops in Ramen Stadium

Don Quijote-Hakata

Don Quijote is a Japanese discount chain store that has almost anything you could want and is one of the best spots to purchase anything as a tourist. Purchase anything from apparel, electronics, tons of different snacks and food, luxury items, medicine and etc.

Fukuoka City Temples

Shofukuji Temple- First Zen temple in Japan

Shofukuji Temple was the first Zen temple constructed in Japan and was founded in 1195 by the priest Eisai. Eisai introduced the Rinzai sect of Zen Buddhism from China into Japan. The temple area of Shofukuji has many features of a typical Zen temple and its buildings have a long history of being destroyed and rebuilt through the centuries.

You can’t go into the temple buildings, but you can walk around the beautiful temple grounds and see the cats practicing their Zen.

Chikuzen Sumiyoshi

During ancient times the Sumioyoshi was held as one of the highest ranking shrines in the area. The shrine is dedicated to the gods of Sokotsutsuo-no-kami, Nakatsutsuo-no-kami and Uwatsutsuo-no-kami. The shrine is worshipped as tutelary shrine of navigation and the main hall is designated as a national treasure.

Kushida Shrine- A local favorite

Kushida Shrine is deeply loved by the citizens of Fukuoka and many of the cities famous summer festivals like the Hakata Gion Yamakasa and Hakata Okunchi start at this shrine. The shrine was founded in 757 when Hakata was an area for trade and diplomatic missions between Japan, China and Korea. The main deity enshrined here is Ohata Nushima no mikoto, an obscure kami.

Decorated floats in storage

At Kushida Shrine you can make an offering and even get your fortune told. You can also see the different and decorated floats that are for the Hakata Gion Yamakasa festival held during July.

Tochoji Temple- Home to Japan’s Largest Wood Buddha

Tochoji Temple was founded in 806 as the head temple of Shingon Buddhism Kyushu section and is dedicated to the famous monk Kobo-Daishi. Kobo-Daishi founded this temple after coming back from China and prayed for the eastward expansion of Tantric Buddhism.

This temple has a main building, five story pagoda and also houses the Great Buddha of Fukuoka. The Buddha is the largest seated wooden Buddha in Japan.

Jotenji- Zen garden and peacefulness

Founded in 1241, Jotenji is a beautiful Zen temple that is a ten minute walk away from Hakata station. The locals know it by the name of Banshosan and you can see Buddhist statues from the Kamakura period there. In addition to an ancient copper bell from Korea. Another peaceful aspect of the temple is the zen garden there.

Chuo Ward- Tenjin Area

Tenjin is a hotspot for all sorts of shopping in Fukuoka City. There are so many shops, restaurants, and malls that tailor to almost anyone. We will list some of the notable areas and places.

Parco Fukuoka

One Piece Straw Hat Store

Largest fashion shopping complex in Tenjin. On the 7th floor you will find a lot of shops that have anime and pop culture goods. You will also find the popular One Piece Straw Hat Store.

Taito Station

One of the most popular and best arcade chains with locations all over Japan. Here you can get the latest selection of arcade games. In addition to winning prizes and various plushes from anime, movies and more.

Tenjin Underground Mall

The largest underground shopping area in Kyushu stretching over 590 meters from the north to south part of Tenjin. There are 12 avenues with 150 different shops for clothing, food, books, and more. The Tenjin Underground Mall is unique because it is designed with a 19th century European style.

Tenjin Central Park and Acros Building

Hawaii Festival was being set up in the park

The Acros building in Tenjin is known for having a rooftop garden, also known as a Step Garden. It has over 76 varieties and a total of 37,000 plants covering the roof. Locals describe it as a green mountain in the middle of the city.

Bookoff Super Bazaar

A chain of stores that offers second hand goods in pristine condition. At Bookoff Super Bazaar you can get a wide variety of items for very good prices that include:

Designer clothing and street wear

Manga and books

DVDs and CDs

Anime goods like figurines, plushies, key chains, cards

Various Electronics like laptops, cameras, etc

Video games for multiple consoles and video game consoles

Vintage items

Chuo Ward-Ohorikoen Area

Fukuoka Castle Ruins and Maizuru Park

In the middle of Maizuru Park, you will find the ruins of Fukuoka Castle. The castle used to be the largest castle on the Kyushu island, but a lot of it was torn down after the Meiji Restoration as an unwanted symbol of feudal Japan. All you will find there today is the ruined walls and a few turret structures.

View from Fukuoka Castle Foundation

The foundation to the base of the castle remains and you can get a view of Ohori Park and the surrounding area above. During the springtime this area is a must visit because you can see beautiful cherry blossoms from every angle when standing on top of the foundation.

Ohori Park

Located right next to Maizuru Park, Ohori Park is a large and peaceful park located in Chuo Ward of Fukuoka. Ohori is Japanese for moat and this pond used to serve as the moat system for Fukuoka Castle.

The park is centered around a huge pond and is home to koi fish, turtles and other wildlife. The walking path that surrounds its central pond is over 2 km long, making for a long walk. Visitors to the park can also rent swan boats on one side of the pond, visit the nearby Fukuoka Art Museum, or grab a drink at the local Starbucks within park grounds. You can also visit the Ohori Park Japanese Garden which cost a small fee to get in.

Fukuoka Art Museum

Picture from the other side of the pond.

The Fukuoka Art Museum is located within Ohori Park and features different collections of artwork and exhibitions that change after a few seasons. The art museum artwork from world famous artists and Kyushu born artists as well. When we went there was a special exhibition on the artwork of the Gundam Anime Series.

https://www.tomino-exhibition.com/

If you like art and don’t have any plans, I recommend going to the Fukuoka Art Museum. It takes about one to two hours to walk around and see everything.

Special Exhbition Poster

Momochihama Area, Fukuoka City

Fukuoka Tower

Fukuoka Tower is the place to be if you want to get a view of the surrounding area of Fukuoka. It is the tallest seaside tower in Japan and the highest observation deck is at 123 meters.

During the day you can see the surrounding cityscape, islands, and beaches near the coast. There are three floors that consist of multiple viewing angles, interactive areas and vending machines with gifts. The tower also features cool illumination shows every night on the entire tower itself.

We visited during Typhoon season and it was raining a lot so we couldn’t see the illumination show or the beautiful views from the top. We did go into the tower and enjoyed what was offered there. One of the coolest things is that the elevator leading up to the top of the tower is all glass and the structure of the tower from inside was showing. If it isn’t raining, you should walk to the beach and take a stroll.

The view your supposed to see. But the Typhoon came and I couldn’t see anything outside.

Where and what to eat in Fukuoka

Food Specialites of Fukuoka to look out for

  1. Tonkotsu Ramen AKA (Hakata Ramen)
  2. Motsunabe
  3. Karashi Mentaiko
  4. Mitzutaki

Eat at Yatai stands

Yatai stands are an iconic site that makes Fukuoka City unique from all the other cities in Japan. Yatai or open air food stands set up shop during the evening and late into the night they serve all types of different foods to hungry customers.

Some well known dishes eaten at yatai stands are yakitori (grilled chicken skewers), oden (hot pot), Hakata Style Ramen, seafood, and of course there are lots of alcoholic beverages to choose from.

A typical Yatai stand seats about eight people and there’s a good chance you’ll meet someone new and have a conversation. The best place to find these stands are around the southern end of Nakasu Island near Canal City Hakata from 7 PM to 2 AM.

Japanese Chains

Japanese chains offer the same quality and can provide some good cheap eats. They usually have multiple locations within a city. Here are some of the chain in Fukuoka.

Ichiran Ramen

Ichiran Flagship Store

Ichiran is one of Japan’s most famous and loved tonkotsu ramen chains. Ichiran Ramen started out as a small ramen stall or yatai in Fukuoka in 1960. Today they own many locations worldwide. The best location to eat at in Fukuoka is the main flagship store consisting of multiple floors and booths for customers to eat at.

When you first enter Ichiran you have to pay and choose what you want from the ticket machine and pay there. After purchasing ramen and sides, you bring your tickets to any open spot and fill out a ramen form telling the employees how you want your ramen to be like how you want your noodles cooked, garlic or no garlic, spice level, etc. The employees serve your ramen and enjoy. The broth of this ramen is rich and delicious and you can always order extra noodles afterwards. If you aren’t stopping by Ichiran, then you are missing out.

Coco’s Curry

Cheese Curry with Tonkatsu

If you are looking to try Japanese style Curry Coco’s is the place to go. At Coco’s Curry they use their special curry sauce to offer a variety of different styles on the menu. You can get things like cheese curry with tonkatsu, hamburg steak, beef curry and more. The curry was delicious and the flavor is balanced and not overpowering like other places.

When you first enter the restaurant you will be greeted by the waiters who will let you choose where to sit and then point you to the menu sitting in the booth. The menu has helpful pictures and when you decide on what you want, you can click the call button and the waiter will take your order. When your food arrives and you finish just take your check up to the register and pay. Very easy and very simple.

Matsuya

Gyudon costing only $2

One of my favorites, Matsuya offers cheap and delicious Gyudon or Japanese style beef bowl with rice. When you walk in you just order and pay at the ticket machine which has multiple language options. After you finish paying sit anywhere and the server will take your tickets and get your order.

Matsuya’s food is delicious, cheap, and fast. A must visit for anyone who wants to have a quick snack or meal.

Another great Gyudon chain is Yoshinoya and Sukiya which has a very similar process and layout to Matsuya.

Places we didn’t get to visit, but are worth looking into.

Because of the Typhoon and heavy rain there were many things we missed out on visiting within Fukuoka. We had made a list of places we hope to visit in the future.

  1. Asahi brewery
  2. Nokonoshima Island
  3. Uminonakamichi Seaside Park
  4. Marine World
  5. Shika Island
  6. Momochi Seaside Park
  7. Ainoshima

Places that we visited but not worth the visit

  1. Yanagibashi Rengo Market

When we visited the marketplace, I was not expecting it to be so small and have very few vendors. It is basically a typical Japanese local market and there was nothing too special about it. It is also a bit far from everything worth doing on our list and you should not go, otherwise you will be disappointed.

Google Maps location containing all the places we talked about:

We went to a lot of places within Fukuoka and did many different things. We hope you find this guide helpful for when your global journey takes you to Japan and consider traveling to Fukuoka.

If you enjoyed seeing our trip to Fukuoka be sure to give us some claps.

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