Fukuoka, one of the largest cities in Japan, is quickly gaining popularity. With the city offering Startup Visas to foreign entrepreneurs, its growth is set to accelerate. Fukuoka is dedicated to art and culture, making it a magnet for tourists from around the world.
But what makes this city truly famous? Its incredible street food scene! If you’re planning a trip to Fukuoka, this article will introduce you to the city and its hidden gems. After all, where there’s smoke, there’s usually fire. So, here are the top reasons to visit Fukuoka, in my expert opinion.
The 5 Main Reasons Why Fukuoka Is Famous
1. Its Lively Food Scene
Fukuoka is the best city to experience authentic Japan through its wide variety of local dishes. It is particularly renowned for its mouthwatering tonkotsu ramen, a dish of noodles with pork broth. Even within this local favorite, you can find different varieties such as Hakata and Nagahama ramen.
Tonkotsu ramen is undeniably my favorite food, and I highly recommend trying it when you visit Fukuoka. While you can find tonkotsu ramen in regular ramen shops or vending machines, the best way to savor it is at the local food stalls called “yatti” or “yatai.” Start your evening at the Nakasu area, where you can enjoy delicious food from the yatai stalls along with your favorite beverage.
If you’re looking for something traditional, vegan, or even fast food, Fukuoka has you covered! The city is packed with endless restaurants offering a variety of menus to satisfy your taste buds at any time of the day.
Things To Do:
- Get a hot bowl of creamy Hakata ramen from a vending machine or a yatai stall.
- Visit Motsunabe restaurants to taste the beef or pork offal hotpot during winter.
- Spice up your taste buds with Mentaiko, a dish of Pollock roe cooked in mild chili sauce, served with onigiri (rice balls) or noodles!
- Indulge in the freshest seafood at the Nagahama Seafood Market.
2. Its Incredible Shopping Centers
For shopaholics, Fukuoka is a dream come true. The city is adorned with some of the largest shopping malls in the country, such as Tenjin and Hakata, where you can spend your day swiping your credit card.
If you prefer a more local experience, head over to Kami Kawabata Shopping Arcade. This arcade has a distinct Japanese aesthetic and is a great place to immerse yourself while searching for the perfect unique souvenir.
The arcade is also closely connected to Gion Yamakasa, one of the most highly anticipated festivals in the city. Additionally, it is conveniently located near Canal City, where you can indulge in both shopping and fountain shows. You could easily spend an entire day exploring Canal City, as it is ginormous, with a canal running through it!
Things To Do:
- Shop at the larger malls in the city, such as Tenjin or Canal City Hakata.
- Stroll through Kawabata Shotengai to experience local food, fashion, and home decor. This historic place is also an excellent spot to socialize with the locals.
- Visit Amu Plaza Hakata, an enormous shopping hub located above the city’s busiest train station, JR Hakata Station.
3. Its Tranquil Temples and Shrines
Despite being a modern and progressive city, Fukuoka is committed to preserving its traditional temples and shrines, which are an integral part of Japanese heritage.
The Sumiyoshi-jinja Shrine is one of the oldest shrines in the Fukuoka prefecture. It is dedicated to seafarers, who often come here to pray before their voyages. The shrine’s most striking feature is its glorious Main Hall, built in the classic 16th-century style. It also houses national artifacts such as a copper axe, an ancient sword, and manuscripts from the Middle Ages.
Another historically significant shrine is the Kushida-jinja Shrine, founded in AD 757. It features unique inscriptions, including carvings of the Chinese Zodiac. The shrine is also home to a more than 1,000-year-old gingko tree.
The shrine serves as the central point of the Hakata Gion Yamakasa festival, held from the 1st to the 15th of July. This two-week-long festival celebrates progress and culminates in an epic race where locals compete while maneuvering giant floats through the streets.
Fukuoka is also known for the Nanzoin Temple. This Buddhist shrine welcomes over a million travelers and pilgrims each year. The temple’s most remarkable feature is a massive bronze reclining Buddha statue, a sight to behold, which was built in 1995.
Things To Do:
- Visit Sumiyoshi-jinja Shrine in October to witness sumo exhibitions and traditional stage plays.
- Explore the Tochoji Temple, founded in AD 806, to see the largest wooden statue in its chambers.
- Experience tranquility and spirituality at the Shōfuku-ji Temple.
4. Its Awe-Inspiring Museums
Fukuoka seamlessly combines its ancient past and traditional shrines with modern architecture, making it one of the trendiest and most prosperous cities in Japan. The Kyūshū National Museum is a prime example of this fusion.
The Kyūshū National Museum houses a vast collection of art and significant artifacts from prehistoric times to the modern day. It costs ¥700 for adults, and the fee for special exhibitions may vary.
If you’re interested in Japanese arts and crafts from the past, don’t miss the Hakata Machiya Folk Museum. It offers glimpses into the lifestyle during the Meiji era, with merchants speaking the old Hakata dialect and artists creating dolls. It’s an excellent place to find unique souvenirs for your trip. The entry fee is ¥300.
Another gem in Fukuoka is the Fukuoka Art Museum. It showcases a diverse collection of ancient and contemporary art from Japan, Europe, and other Asian countries.
Things To Do:
- Marvel at the 15th-century artwork by revered Japanese artist Masanobu Kano at the art museum. Complete your visit with a meal at one of the cafes and restaurants.
- Join the artisans at the Hakata Machiya Folk Museum for a hands-on experience of ancient arts. It’s a fun and interactive activity, especially for kids.
- Admire Salvador Dali’s “The Madonna of Port Lligat” and other renowned artists’ works at the art museum.
5. Its Serene Natural Spots
Fukuoka is famous not only for its nightlife and shrines but also for its lesser-known natural spots. Among them, Ōhori Park takes the top spot. This park features a man-made lake, providing a serene space for people to relax and enjoy a lazy afternoon. You’ll find many visitors walking the trail around the lake, exercising, or simply unwinding in the beautiful gardens, especially during cherry blossom season.
Uminonakamichi Seaside Park is another spot worth mentioning. It’s an ideal location for a family day out, offering picnic areas, go-karts, slides, and even a petting farm.
Things To Do:
- Attend the magnificent firework displays hosted at Ōhori Park during August.
- Visit Maizuru Park in spring to capture Instagrammable photos with cherry blossoms.
- Don’t miss the seasonal flower festivals that take place throughout the year.
Get Yourself There!
With its friendly atmosphere, foodie culture, and an abundance of shrines, Fukuoka is a must-visit destination. It’s no wonder this city continues to gain popularity year after year. Make sure to add Fukuoka to your travel bucket list and experience a more relaxed side of Japan before it becomes even more famous.
For those torn between visiting Fukuoka or Nagoya (a common dilemma!), check out this article to help you decide which city is right for you.