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5 Unmissable Things to Do in Fukuoka

Kyushu's port city is full of delicious food and entertainment, accented with extraordinary natural beauty and a welcoming character. 

By 4 min read

Fukuoka is known for its local foods, tempting international and national visitors to the area. Aside from the delicious Kyushu cuisine, the port city is home to many unforgettable sights and experiences unique to the region for you to discover for yourself.

As Japan looks to open up its doors once more, come join us as we look at the city of Fukuoka, Kyushu and look at just some of what is on offer to visitors to the city.

1. Gekidan Anmitsu Hime Show

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Drag performers at Gekidan Anmitsu Hime.

The long-running and well-renowned drag show Gekidan Anmitsu Hime is just a short walk from Tenjin station. Featuring showgirls, drag performers and comedians, with many opportunities to interact with the live show, this act is one you won’t want to miss.

Don’t fret about your Japanese language ability, the show is very accessible to all. Make your night unforgettable with flashy costumes, great choreographed music and dance pieces, and an all-you-can-drink menu for the adventurous. Anmitsu Hime changes up its act each season so there is always a reason to come back and check out the all-new material on every visit.

2. Dazaifu Tenman-gu Shrine

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The gates to Dazaifu Tenman-gu Shrine.

A short bus ride from Hakata are the gardens of Dazaifu. Rumored to be the setting of many scenes of the acclaimed Demon Slayer anime, the area is filled with beautiful gardens and several notable shrines and stalls where you can buy charms to help you with your studies and exams.

The structures and statues alone would make this a worthwhile journey. However, equally as important is the area in front of the shrine. Famous manju (rice cakes), a shrine-architecture-inspired train station and the acclaimed Kengo Kuma Starbucks are all situated on this street.

3. Fukuoka Tower

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The Fukuoka skyline and tower at dusk.

Although originally completed in 1989, the most recent renovation in 2019 means that the Fukuoka Tower contains some of Japan’s most modern illumination technology. Whereas places like Tokyo Tower or Skytree may have charming light shows, Fukuoka Tower is kitted out with a sophisticated LED system acting like pixels on a screen, allowing for some awe-inspiring visuals.

From falling sakura and wondering goldfish to cackling jack-o-lanterns and twinkling Christmas trees, the Fukuoka Tower is a must-see icon of the city. Check out the light-up calendar here to pick the best time to visit for you!

4. The Nakasu and Tenjin yatai district

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The Nakasu red-light district attracts many people on a Saturday night.

If you are a seasoned traveler to the Asian continent, you may have noticed the absence of a street food culture in Japan. This is no accident. In the post-war period, the Japanese government enacted legislation that made opening and running a yatai, or food staff, extremely difficult.

This caused a steep decline in food stalls in the following decades. Yet, in recent years, the image of street food has changed dramatically. It is now seen as a way for creative, independent artisans to produce unique flavors and renditions of popular Japanese dishes, depending on where you go.

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Yatai street stall along the Nakasu River.

No place shows this vibrant and exciting food culture quite like the longstanding street food culture of Nakasu and Tenjin.

Around these stations, you can find bustling crowds of native Fukuokans and visitors alike meandering around an assorted array of street food vendors, each one where the patrons talk amongst each other and crack jokes.

If you’re looking to make friends in Japan, the yatai stalls of Fukuoka are amongst the best places to strike up a genuine conversation with people from all over Japan and the world. My recommendation is Pyonkichi in Tenjin, with some Korean dishes and a friendly atmosphere for foreign visitors.

5. Hakata Festivals

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A Dontaku Port Festival diety performer.

Dating back to the 12th century, the Hakata Dontaku Port Festival attracts more than two million people to watch the traditional parades, floats, and performances throughout the city between May 3 and May 4 every year.

Although the main parade goes through the major streets of Hakata and Tenjin, you can find small performances, dances, and traditional Japanese festival stalls throughout the city.

A larger festival is the Hakata Gion Yamakasa Festival. This event pits seven teams representing Fukuoka’s seven districts racing large kakiyama (floats) down the streets. It’s quite the spectacle and can get pretty intense. Crowds even douse the float carriers with water just to stay cool!

The first race is held at Hakozaki Shrine on July 1and the final race is on July 15. However, rehearsals can be viewed between the actual races.

Honorable mentions

Finding just five places to write about isn’t easy. Fukuoka has it all—night views, river cruises, mountain observatories, forest trains and more. We hope that you were able to get just a taste of what is available in Japan’s second-largest port city.

Have you visited Fukuoka before? Tell us down in the comments, and let us know about your favorite experiences!

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