As the largest city in Kyushu, Fukuoka City, has enjoyed fantastic press recently. Food critics have been praising the area’s exquisite food culture, with tonkotsu (pork bone broth ramen), motsunabe (offal hot pot), mentaiko (spiced cod roe) and yatai (food stalls) leading the way. There are tons to do and see in the city.
But the rest of the prefecture has even more to offer. Are you a tea lover? Fukuoka tea from Yame City regularly wins top domestic honors. There are also stunning temples, shrines and gardens, with relatively easy access to Fukuoka and Kitakyushu Cities.
Here is our list of the best things to do in Fukuoka Prefecture.
1. Hakata Station
The main travel hub of Kyushu, Hakata station, is a great spot to visit. Looking for the perfect Fukuoka omiyage (souvenir)? The station’s first floor has several stores to satisfy your sweet (like the award-winning Hakata Torimon, a buttery, sweet bean bun) and savory (tonkotsu ramen packs for all!) needs. The rooftop of the adjacent Hankyu Department store is also a must-see, with a mini train and tricycles for the little ones, a stellar view of the railway lines and panoramic views of the city surrounded by ocean and mountains.
2. Ohori Park
Ohori Park is a scenic and quiet oasis near the bustling downtown core of Tenjin. With the Fukuoka Art Museum, a Japanese garden, multiple jungle gym areas and a sprawling pond, this stately park is everyone’s go-to in the city. The many walking paths and ample seasonal flora, such as cherry blossoms in the springtime, ensure this easy-to-explore green space is always happening. Don’t miss &Locals, a small cafe with Fukuoka tea, wagashi (Japanese sweets) and local foodstuffs (like beer and spices) for sale.
3. Hakata Old Town and Kushida Shrine
Walk Hakata’s history in Hakata’s Old Town, populated by temples, shrines, shops and museums. Visit the birthplace of udon and soba at Jotenji Temple, where the noodles were brought back from China and eventually spread throughout the country. Check out Tochoji Temple, which houses a large wooden Buddha statue and a five-story pagoda. Finally, cap it off with a stroll to Kushida Shrine. It’s arguably the city’s most important shrine. It is the starting point of the summer Yamakasa festival, where teams run through Hakata carrying towering floats.
4. Uminonakamichi Seaside Park
Accessible by train or ferry, Uminonakamichi Seaside Park is a huge green space featuring seasonal flowers, leisurely walking and biking paths, and an aquarium. People head to the peninsula yearly to explore its vast flower fields. Catch over a thousand cherry blossoms in full bloom at the beginning of spring, nearly 2,000 roses flowering in late May and early June, and over a million cosmos transforming the fields into a sea of pink, red, and white in the autumn months. After enjoying the outdoors, head indoors and immerse yourself in aquatic life at Marine World Uminonakamichi, an aquarium boasting over 20,000 sea creatures.
5. Sumiyoshi Shrine and Rakusuien Garden
Not far from Hakata station, you’ll find Sumiyoshi Shrine, one of the oldest shrines in the country and one of the three great Sumiyoshi shrines in Japan. There are several deities enshrined within, including ones for sumo, travel and the sea, and you can buy plenty of souvenirs related to these. Around the corner from the shrine is an often overlooked traditional Japanese garden, Rakusuien. Enjoy the Japanese maples changing colors in autumn and cherry blossoms blooming in spring as you feed the fish in the pond and drink a cup of sencha in the tea house.
6. Canal City
Just one subway stop or about 10 minutes on foot from Hakata station, Canal City is a shopper’s paradise wrapped in a unique architectural package. Constructed in 1996, this complex was designed by the same company that built Tokyo’s Roppongi Hills and houses over 200 shops, from luxury brands to souvenir shops. If you need to grab a bite, plenty of restaurants split between the bottommost floor and the upper levels that offer Japanese and Western-style food. Ramen fans should check out Ramen Stadium for over half a dozen stalls representing Japan’s diverse ramen landscape.
7. Momochi Seaside Park and Fukuoka Tower
If you want to take a break from the big city, head to Momochi Seaside Park for some time in the sun. With about 2.5 kilometers of coastline, visitors can relax on the beach, dip in the water, or just stroll along the sea. Stop by Marizon, located near Fukuoka Tower, for a bite to eat along the water. With both sit-down restaurants and places to grab a snack and go, you’ll have plenty of options to fit your day plans. While there, head across the street to the 234-meter-tall Fukuoka Tower for panoramic views from the observation deck.
8. Nanzoin Lying Buddha Statue
If you want to get out of the city but don’t want to travel too far, visit Nanzoin Temple. Built in 1899, this mountainside temple belongs to the Shingon sect of Buddhism and is a leisurely hike for children and adults. Along the way, you’ll come across several big and small statues representing figures from the Buddhist pantheon and beautiful views of the surrounding landscape. At the top, visitors will face the world’s largest bronze Buddha, which measures 41 meters long and 11 meters high.
9. Dazaifu Tenmangu and Kyushu National Museum
For a day of history and culture, double up with Daizaifu Tenmangu and the Kyushu National Museum. Dedicated to Sugawara no Michizane, a poet, politician and scholar from the ninth century, Dazaifu Tenmangu is a Shinto shrine built atop his grave. Every year, students flock to the shrine to pray for entrance exam success, and people go to enjoy the thousands of plum blossoms that come into bloom in February. Nearby, you’ll also find the Kyushu National Museum, one of four in the country. Visitors can explore Japanese history across four floors from the prehistoric era to the present.
10. Mojiko Retro
Mojiko Retro is a harborfront in Kitakyushu City that encapsulates the region’s importance in Japan’s Meiji Industrial Revolution. Built in 1914, the most popular entry point to the seaside is JR Mojiko station, recently restored to its former neoclassical glory. You’ll find several historic buildings outside the station, including the Moji Mitsui Club, where Albert Einstein once spent the night in the 1920s. Also, stop by the nearby Kyushu Railway History Museum for a lesson on the importance of trains connecting northern Kyushu with Tokyo and Osaka in the early 20th century.
11. Munakata Taisha
Granted UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 2017, Munakata Taisha is a collection of three shrines. One is on the Japanese mainland, and two are on islands off the coast of Kyushu. Hetsumiya Shrine is located in Munakata City, the most easily accessible of the three and the one often referred to as Munakata Taisha.
While several buildings were constructed in the 12th century, some may date back much earlier to the beginnings of the Shinto religion. A museum on site contains artifacts from all three shrines. Although you can visit Nakatsu Shrine, it is located on Oshima Island and sits relatively secluded at the base of Mount Mitake. You can also take a ferry to Oshima Island. The last of the trio, Okitsu-gu on Okinoshima Island, is strictly off-limits to most of the public.
12. Yame Tea Region
Uji and Shizuoka may steal the spotlight in Japan’s tea regions, but Yame punches above its weight with award-winning teas. Located in the southern part of the prefecture, Yame City and the surrounding tea fields make for a great day trip from Fukuoka City. Yame’s gyokuro (high-grade green tea) is among the most highly-prized and priciest teas on the market, known for its rich taste, hints of sweetness and little astringency. If you’re interested in touring a plantation, go to the Yame Central Tea Plantation for plenty of hiking trails that cut through the tea fields.
13. Kawachi Fujien Wisteria Garden
Kawachi Fujien Wisteria Garden is open to the public from late April to early May and mid-November to early December. This 10,000-meter square tract of land has around two dozen varieties of wisteria. Many of which have been shaped into two spectacular tunnels. With cascading purple, white and pink flowers, these 80 and 110-meter-long paths will make you feel like you’ve stepped inside a Monet painting. Visit the garden in the fall to see more than 700 trees erupt in crimson reds.