Fukuoka (福岡市) is a trendy city and one of the most progressive cities in Japan. In addition, it is the gateway to one of the country’s most beautiful islands, Kyushu. Are you planning a visit to this 1.6 million-strong city? In this travel guide you will find out about the best historical places in Fukuoka. In addition, you will learn about the special history of Fukuoka and Hakata (?) and about the best neighborhoods and attractions to be found there. Off to Fukuoka… (when the time is right of course)
What would you like to know about Fukuoka, Japan?
- A brief history of Fukuoka
- Sightseeing – What to do in Fukuoka?
- Accommodation – Where to stay?
- Transportation – How to get there?
A brief history of Fukuoka
Fukuoka was created by the fusion of two cities in the year 1889: Fukuoka and Hakata. For centuries, Fukuoka was a city with a castle and Hakata served primarily as a port. Those arriving by train, for example, do so through Hakata Station, the city’s largest train station. The border of the merged city is at the Naka River, which runs right through Fukuoka.
The history of the city is mainly about connections with foreign countries. For example, the city is closest to the mainland of Asia (Busan) and you can also take a ferry there. It was for this reason that the Mongols tried to conquer Japan via Hakata in the thirteenth century. They failed twice and both times a hurricane was the cause of their failure. The Japanese called these severe storms Kamikaze, which means divine wind. We know Kamikaze pilots mainly from World War II, when Japanese aviators carried out suicide attacks on Allied ships. After the second Mongol attack, the inhabitants decided to build a 20-kilometer wall to protect the city from future attacks.
After the merger of Hakata and Fukuoka in 1889, the city developed prosperously, but like many cities in the country was hit by the bombings of World War II. More than 20 percent of the city was destroyed. Reconstruction proceeded quickly, making Fukuoka a modern progressive commercial and industrial city that is very popular among Japanese.
Sightseeing – What to do in Fukuoka?
Fukuoka is a surprisingly pleasant city where you can do a variety of things. Below are a few great sights to visit in and around the city.
Fukuoka Castle: In Maizuru Park are the remains of Fukuoka Castle. This was once the largest castle on the island of Kyushu but was torn down in 1868 after the Meiji Restoration, which gave the emperor power. It was too reminiscent of the city’s feudal past. A few remnants, such as a few turrets still stand. Combine a visit to the remnants with the nearby Fukuoka Art Museum and the city’s nicest park, Ohori Park.
Fukuoka Tower & City Museum: Further east, you’ll find Japan’s tallest tower standing on the coast, the Fukuoka Tower. At 234 meters tall, you’ll have a great view of the city. The observation deck is at 123 meters where you can also have lunch or coffee.
Within walking distance of the tower you will find the best museum of the city, the Fukuoka City Museum. Here you will get an explanation of the history of the city and the trade relations Fukuoka had and still has with other countries in Asia.
Tochoji & Shofukuji Temple: Northwest and within walking distance of Hakata Station are these two temples. Shofukuji Temple is the oldest Zen temple in Japan. It was established in 1195, after a monk from China spread this form of Buddhism to Japan. The nearby Tochoji Temple is older but is part of the Shingon sect. The shrine was founded in 806 and here you can visit the largest seated wooden Buddha statue in Japan.
Dazaifu: A 40-minute train ride south, you’ll find Dazaifu. This suburb of Fukuoka was an important center for trade with China, but also has some interesting sights. For example, here you can visit the Dazaifu Tenman-gu. This temple is dedicated to the scholar Sugawara-no-Temang-gu, who was exiled in the tenth century and is now deified as the Shinto god of literature and study. For this reason, many students come to this shrine in the hope of getting good results in college or university. In addition, you can also find the National Museum of Kyushu, one of the most important museums in the country with a number of special objects, such as a samurai sword and Buddhist writings.
Accommodation – Where to stay in Fukuoka?
Fukuoka is a vibrant city with all different lovely districts. If you like to do some shopping you’ve come to the right place in the Tenjin district. For good food and nightlife you should be in Nakasu, a small island in the Naka-gawa River. Here you have a variety of different nice food stalls.
During my stay in Fukuoka I stayed in Fukuoka Hana Hostel. This hostel is located northwest of Hakata Station and is easily accessible by subway. In addition, it is right next to the Nakasu district and within walking distance of the modern Canal City shopping center.
Transportation – How to get there?
Like all cities in Japan, Fukuoka is easily reached by train. From Tokyo there is a train every hour to this trendy city and it takes 5 hours. The terminus in Fukuoka is JR Hakata and from there the subway is the easiest way to explore the city.
Would you like to explore Japan by train? Then purchase the JR Railwaypass here and use the high-speed line for up to 3 weeks.
Next destination in Japan?
Do you have more tips and ideas for staying in Fukuoka, Japan? If so, feel free to leave a comment below.