Fukuoka Prefecture (or state), sits on the northern shore of Japan’s Kyushu Island. It is a diverse destination, offering a melting pot of culture, scenery and buzzing shopping districts. Fukuoka boasts coastal towns, ancient ruins and is home to the birthplace of the mouthwatering Tonkotsu-style ramen.
10 must-do activities in Fukuoka!
There’s plenty to discover throughout the region, so put it on your bucket list for when we can travel freely again. Until then, enjoy this virtual tour
1. Visit Ancient Castle Ruins
The Akizuki Castle Ruins in Fukuoka are arguably one of the most famous castles ruins within the prefecture. Akizuki Castle was the home of the Akizuki clan, a family that once ruled over much of Fukuoka. The town itself is filled with samurai residences, earthen and stone walls and latticework and is known as a site for cherry blossoms in spring and brightly coloured leaves in autumn. Just over an hour from Fukuoka City, the fascinating historical town was also the base of the Akira Kurosawa film The Hidden Fortress, which actually inspired George Lucas’ first treatment for Star Wars: A New Hope.
2. Attend A Sake Festival
As Japan’s national beverage, visitors must taste the local alcohol on a visit. The best way to do it? Attend a sake festival to sample some of the region’s finest. Fukuoka Prefecture’s three-day sake festival is filled with local specialities, sake and beer tastings. It’s held in Kurume in the Chikugo area (around an hour and a half from central Fukuoka City) and the area is well known for its sake brewing thanks to its abundance of water sources and quality rice.
The festival is a highlight for locals. It offers tastings of the distillers’ bestselling sakes as well as new products specially distilled for the event. There are also lots of samplings of local delicacies, including steamed oysters and sweets made with sake lees (a mixture of solids that are left after the sake has been pressed out of the mash in the fermentation process),
3. Discover The Plum Blossoms
Japan is famously known for the beautiful cherry blossoms that grace the country each spring, but lesser known are the exquisite plum blossoms. These beautiful pink blossoms bloom at the end of February until early March and are best seen at the Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine in Dazaifu. The shrine boasts 6,000 plum trees that give off a gorgeous scent for visitors to enjoy.
4. Visit An Onsen
Fukuoka has six major hot springs, dotted throughout the prefecture. For those who want to get out in nature head to Asakura, the home of Harazuru Onsen – one of the largest hot spring towns in Fukuoka Prefecture. The town has 12 different Onsen ryokan (Japanese Inns) to choose from, with the area looking over Kyushu’s largest river, Chikugo River. The Onsens in the town are famous for their high-quality water and feature both alkaline and sulfur components that are said to improve the skin condition.
5. Road trip to Itoshima
The coastal town is just over half an hour from Fukuoka City with sandy beaches, crystal clear waters and surrounded by lush greenery. Loved by holidaying locals, the proximity to the ocean means the town boasts fresh seafood, best eaten in beachside restaurants with ocean views.
Those who visit in winter will also get the opportunity to visit a pop-up kakigoya (oyster hut), where punters can BBQ fresh oysters in a bright, bustling tent.
6. Get A Taste Of The Local Cuisine At The City’s Yatai
The bustling streets of Fukuoka City are home to yatai, the city’s open-air food stands. Each yatai can seat about ten people and serve local favourites with a buzzing atmosphere. Head to Tenjin or Nakasu, located in the city centre for the widest variety of yatai, where travellers can munch on yakitori, hot pot or ramen while rubbing shoulders with locals.
7. Hike Mount Hiko
One of Kyshu’s most scenic hikes, Mt Hiko is two hours from Fukuoka City and provides hiking tracks with incredible views. The mountain is 1,200 metres above sea level with the main course 17km long, taking around 5-7 hours to complete. This hike is revered as holy ground as a pilgrimage route for ascetic Buddhist monks and hikers will pass beautiful shrines as they make their way up the mountain where they’ll be greeted with spectacular views. The hike is great all year-round, with autumn offering vivid, brightly coloured leaves and in winter, a snowy wonderland.
8. Float down the waterways in Yanagawa
Float along in a donkobune (a gondola like boat) and take in the scenic beauty of Yanagawa, a river side city south west of Fukuoka City. Yanagawa Kawakudari (going downstream) is a punt tour of the wide and narrow waterways’ network in the city. The total length of the network spans around 930km and the donkobune will take you through the nooks and crannies of the old town, giving a picturesque tour of the Venice of Japan.
9. Shop Till You Drop At Kawabata Shopping Arcade
For an authentic Japanese shopping experience, head to Kawabata Shopping Arcade in Nakasu. Comprised of two streets and more than 130 shops dotted along a covered walkway, the arcade is one of the region’s oldest shopping streets. Loved by locals and travellers alike, the arcade offers something for every type of shopper – from modern clothing and speciality stores to hidden restaurants serving delicious local food. Those that visit in July may even witness the festive and elaborately decorated yamakasa floats on display in celebration of the Hakata Gion Yamakasa festival – an annual festival that sees men in traditional costume race through the streets of Hakata with yamakasa. The larger, colourfully decorated floats that cannot be raced, sit on display throughout the Hakata region.
10. Visit A Tea Plantation
Fukuoka produces some of the highest quality green tea in Japan and Yame, in the southern part of the prefecture, produces traditional, authentic Yame Hongyokuro; a tea that uses a special production method and is known as one of the finest Japanese teas. The Yame Central Tea Garden, a 70-hectare plantation, is a spectacular plantation to visit. The plantation forms an Olle (a hiking trail that will have you experiencing the coast and nature with all five senses; each Olle course showcases a different element of Kyushu culture) which visitors can hike, taste the tea and take in the lush green views over the plantation.