Discover the top 5 things to do in Fukuoka, Japan: top-rated iconic places to visit and experiences you will love!
Top 5 Things To Do In Fukuoka, Japan
Fukuoka may not be the first place you think of when you’re planning a trip to Japan. However, this coastal city is an absolute gem of delicious food and beautiful historical sites. Keep reading to learn about the top five things to do in Fukuoka, Japan!
Fukuoka is known for its stunning temples. In a variety of styles and with a variety of purposes, you can get a feel for the architectural and style changes over the centuries. In fact, the oldest Zen temple in Japan calls Fukuoka home.
An advantage of being less-touristy means you can actually enjoy that “Zen” feeling.
There is an actual temple district here where you can see most of the best options in the city. Here are some of the temples you should check out:
While Jotenji may not have the critical acclaim of being the oldest Zen temple in Japan, it’s definitely worth a stop as it does have a pretty big claim to fame all on its own! Supposedly, this is the temple where soba and udon noodles were born!
This temple has a Zen garden, complete with quintessential carefully raked sand and mossy rocks. Unfortunately, you can’t go inside. But the walls are low and afford some great views and photo opportunities.
This temple is for a type of Buddhism you may not have heard of, called Shingon. However, it is very important as it preserves the lineage of Buddism as it traveled from India to East Asia.
The style of temples for Shingon Buddism is also pretty recognizable, with their tiered levels and often colorful paint. If that isn’t enough to make you want to stop in, this temple is also ancient – founded in 806!
Finally, we’ve arrived at the oldest Zen temple in Japan. It might make you wonder why this was the place someone decided to build the very first of, well, anything.
It’s important to remember that Fukuoka is and was a port city, right on the coast. That means a lot of creativity in food and ideas was constantly flowing in. When the founder of Zen Buddhism arrived back in Japan from China, he basically built a temple on the first clear stretch of land he could see.
And it’s seriously lovely. Full of temple cat friends, creeping greenery, and a sense of quiet and peace. There’s rarely anyone here, so enjoy the moment!
The nice thing is, all of these shrines are within walking distance – as is most everything in Fukuoka. If you’re enjoying seeing this quieter side of Japan, make sure to include a visit to the countryside on your trip. Wazuka is a beautiful area of Japan where tea is grown and should be next on your list!
2. Shinto Shrines
Hopefully, you’re not yet tired of seeing the architecture of Japan, because some shrines are up next!
Kushida Shrine is generally considered to be the main, or most important, shrine in Fukuoka. It is the oldest shrine in Fukuoka, clocking in at well over 1,200 years old! This shrine serves three deities and is home to a special spring with waters that supposedly bring immortality.
This is also one of the best places in Japan to catch a traditional Shinto ceremony. Crowds are less likely and it’s easy to see what’s happening due to the shrine’s wider structure.
Fukuoka also has an Inari Shrine nearby. These are a type of shrine that consists of the red tori gates stretching out into the distance.
While ones like the Fushima Inari Shrine in Kyoto are more well known, this one is very similar and more easily accessible. There’s not as much hiking involved and your pictures won’t be interrupted by other excited tourists!
Japan Rail Hakata Station
For a fun shrine, head over to the Japan Rail Hakata Station. While the rooftop is perhaps more known for its views of the city, there is also a shrine. This shrine is meant for all things train-related, so know you’re being watched over when you head off to your next destination.
Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine
If you’re willing to stretch yourself a little beyond Fukuoka, another famous shrine is in the nearby Dazaifu. The Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine is absolutely gorgeous and is known for its hundreds of plum trees. If you can time it for the plum blossom season, you’re in for a real treat.
3. Try All Of The Ramen
This is another one that might sound weird – but Fukuoka is home to some of the best ramen in all of Japan. Tonkatsu Ramen, also known as Hakata or pork ramen, originates from this area. Fukuoka used to be known as Hakata, hence the enduring name.
There are many, many places where you can sample this delectable dish. One of the easiest if you have a big appetite, is to take a trip to Canal City.
Canal City is worth a visit on its own, as it’s a surprisingly fun and varied shopping experience. Different shops line a canal that features frequent light and water shows – perfect for some quick relaxation from all the walking you’ve been doing today.
More importantly, however, is the Ramen Stadium. Right in Canal City, this is an entire floor of delectable ramen shops so you can find exactly what you love the most.
Another ramen restaurant to consider is actually a chain restaurant. Now, you may balk at this, but it’s a fantastically tasty experience since you get to craft the perfect bowl for yourself. I’m speaking, of course, about Ichiran ramen.
Ichiran started in Fukuoka, and you can visit the original restaurant that serves the noodles in square bowls (every other restaurant serves them in round bowls).
You get to customize just about everything in your bowl. How rich the broth is, onions, noodle type, whether you want extra meat or a traditional egg. You’re served in these adorable solo-friendly booths so you can truly zone in on the feast before you.
4. Experience Traditional Crafts
Fukuoka is home to several buildings dedicated to traditional and local crafts. The most famous is the Hakata Michiya Furusato-Kan. This place is a folk museum that is meant to show how traditional textiles and crafts were made way back in the Meiji era.
They have a variety of things on display, all relating to local traditions like Hakata dolls, fabric weaving, paper making and more. Downstairs you can even take part in a weaving demonstration!
Shogetsudou is a shop that specializes in the Hakata dolls that you saw on display. So, if you want to take one home it’s a great souvenir from your trip to Japan!
Additionally, this shop frequently has workshops to help you learn the process of making a Hakata doll yourself. Attending workshops when visiting a foreign country is not only a great way to meet people from another culture, it gives you a deeper insight into the history and values of a country.
5. Yamakasa Festival
This festival’s full name is the Hakata Gion Yamakasa Festival, and it takes place each year from July 1st to July 15th. The festival is over 700 years old and is considered one of the best in Japan and it’s well worth trying to fit into your schedule!
The festival is more of a competition that involves “float” racing, where incredibly beautifully designed floats tower over the streets as they are raced. These floats can weigh up to one ton and be over 15 meters tall!
The origins of the story are both strange and a little close to home. All those years ago there was a plague spreading throughout the Fukuoka area. A Buddhist monk was being carried on a platform throughout the town and prayed for the disease to disappear – and apparently, it worked and ever since this tradition has been born.
The racing part is a little newer, only 400 years old, with its own mythos surrounding it. A man and a woman from different parts of Fukuoka were getting married, sparking a rivalry. So, everybody decided to race their floats instead of stately walking them through the streets!
Expect a great deal of spectator participation, part of why this festival is so much fun for visitors. The racecourse is five kilometers long and the people lining the path will throw buckets of water on the participants…and anyone in the crowd who they feel needs good dosing! So expect to get wet.
Even if you can’t come during the festival days, you’ll still be able to see what the floats look like. A massive one is kept right next to Kushida Shrine, along with some other fun historical items. It will give you a great taste of just how exciting the festival must be with the massive float drifting through the streets.
And those are the top 5 things to do in Fukuoka, Japan! For more to do in Japan, check out this 9 Day Japan Itinerary.
This post has been written by Emily Posson from The Tiny Tumbleweed.
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