Fukuoka City Guide: Things to Do, Where to Stay, and How to Get Around
Fukuoka is the most populous city on the Northwest Japanese Island of Kyushu. It is also the capital of the Fukuoka Prefecture. Named after a castle built in the 17th century, Fukuoka has become a popular destination for tourists who wish to soak up the rich culture, impressive sights, and activities that this bustling city has to offer.
Fukuoka is ideal for traditional tourists and sports fans alike. It is home to international competitions that bring together all walks of life, creating a vibrant tourist economy.
Take in a piece of Japan’s rich history while enjoying all of the accommodations of modern travel when you visit Fukuoka. Make the most of your time at this tourist hotspot with the help of this inclusive Fukuoka city guide.
- Fun Facts
- Best Time to Visit
- Getting There
- Top Neighborhoods to Visit
- Safety Tips and Concerns
- Medical Facilities
- Where to Stay
- Transportation Options
- Activities and Attractions
- Food and Drink
Fun Facts About Fukuoka
- Sports – This is the ultimate destination for international rugby matches. See your favorite international team battle it out for the title of “World’s Best” during the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
Fukuoka Hakatanomori Stadium will host the following matches:
- Italy vs. Canada: Thursday, September 26, 2019
- France vs. USA: Wednesday, October 2, 2019
- Ireland vs. Samoa: Saturday, October 12, 2019
- Buses Galore - Fukuoka has more public buses than any other city in Japan. The city can certainly get busy, but Fukuoka provides more than enough public transportation options to get visitors wherever they want to go during their stay.
- Home of the Youth – Despite being an older city rich in culture and tradition, Fukuoka is in the midst of a youth movement. In fact, six out of every one hundred residents are university students. This puts the city second in the ratio of students to residents.
- Relationship Problems – Soulmates beware – it has long been said that couples who cross all three bridges in Shinjiga-Ike pond will break up.
- Saved by the Storm – There were multiple attempts to invade the island of Hakata (where Fukuoka is located) during the Mongolian Empire. Both times, a massive storm known as a kamikaze wiped out the invading forces. Nowadays, the locals believe the storms were destined to save the city so it could be visited by tourists from around the world.
Best Time to Visit Fukuoka
One of the most important questions to ask when visiting somewhere new is, “What will the weather be like when I’m there?” You can expect a subtropical climate with extremely humid summers and mild winters in Fukuoka.
Fukuoka is a great walking city, but its subtropical climate means you’ll likely work up a sweat while adventuring around town. The city sees about 60 inches of rain each year, so pack a rain jacket.
Visit in the fall or spring if you're looking for a milder climate. Fall in Fukuoka is fairly dry and not too humid, providing you with comfortable conditions to explore the city.
International Rugby Matches
You’ll experience one of the world’s fastest growing and most exciting sports when you travel to Fukuoka for the international rugby matches in 2019. Take advantage of the mild climate and support your home country or favorite team by spectating at the events in the fall.
International sporting events like rugby matches bring individuals together from all over the world. Make your travels plans sooner rather than later, as hotels near Fukuoka Hakatanomori Stadium will likely book up soon.
Hakata Gion Tamakasa
Every year in mid-July, the Hakata Gion Yamakasa draws more than a million spectators. This unique event is a race of kakiyama (huge colorful floats) throughout the streets of Fukuoka. Each float represents a specific district within the city and many weigh as much as one ton.
Japanese culture is characterized by a respect for lost loved ones. This couldn’t be more evident than it is during the Mitama Festival, when 30,000 glowing lanterns light up Gokoku Shrine. Held each year during the middle of August, this festival features taiko drumming as individuals welcome ancestors back from the afterlife.
PRO TIP: Skip the big festivals and events if you want to see the city on a tighter budget. Travel to Fukuoka early in the summer or during the winter to find better deals on transportation and lodging.
The Fukuoka International Airport is less than ten minutes from the city’s center and has flights from major airports such as JFK in New York City. Fukuoka International sees the third highest volume of travelers out of any airport in Japan. Its employees take pride in their ability to provide travelers with convenience and efficiency during their journey.
Most connecting flights to Fukuoka International Airport are through the following airports:
- Washington Dulles (IAD)
- Shanghai (PVG)
- Charles de Gaulle (CDG)
- London Heathrow (LHR)
- JFK (JFK)
- Taiwan (TPE)
- Manilla (MNL)
- Mumbai (BOM)
All Nippon Airways (ANA), also known as Zennikkū, is the largest airline in all of Japan and has been voted number one for on-time arrivals. If you are only visiting Fukuoka briefly, book with ANA to all but guarantee you’ll get there on time.
You can get virtually anywhere in the city by public transportation once you land at the airport. The airport is just outside Fukuoka’s city center, so you'll only be minutes away from many of the most popular destinations, including Fukuoka Hakatanomori Stadium.
Top Neighborhoods to Visit
Area Around Hakatanomori Stadium
Hakatanomori Stadium is a multi-purpose facility utilized by professional baseball, soccer, and rugby teams. The surrounding area was built to accommodate hundreds of thousands of spectators. The stadium will also be home to several matches in the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
The restaurants nearby are perfect for grabbing a bite and a drink before or after a game. Tempuradokoro Hirao Honten, Tempura Hirao harada, and Makino Udon Kukoten are all about a half mile away.
While some stadiums are often isolated from the city itself, Hakatanomori Stadium blends in with Fukuoka and is only minutes away from the city center when walking.
Hakata Station Area
One of the most impressive neighborhoods in Fukuoka is Hakata Station Area. Hakata Station is the largest and busiest major railway station in Hakata-ku, Fukuoka. It connects to other cities in the Kyushu area and provides access to more than 200 stores, comprised of everything from top Japanese fashion brands to inexpensive food and drink.
Many of the shops are privately owned, meaning a good number are cash only. But there are plenty of ATM machines in case you see something you just have to get!
Be sure to visit the Tsubame-no-Mori Plaza for incredible sightseeing from its rooftop garden. This spot offers something for all visitors, whether you're looking to get a high-quality family picture or you want to spend a special moment with your spouse.
The Tenjin area is perfect for those looking to explore a historic, authentic Japanese neighborhood. This working-class neighborhood is home to the Kawataba Shopping Street – the oldest shopping area in the city – and retains an authentic cultural feel. You’re likely to see more locals than tourists while peeking into the old shops in the neighborhood.
The ACROS building is the Tenjin area’s crown jewel. One side of the building is a conventional, glass-walled office building, while the other side melds into the surrounding park with its terraced roof. The building’s one-of-a-kind design and the 50,000 plants that grow on its grounds attract both visitors and locals.
Tenjin Core and Mitsukoshi Fukuoka are two department store buildings worth visiting if you’re more interested in shopping than sightseeing. Later, stop by Oyafuku-dori to experience the exciting nightlife. This street hosts tons of popular bars and clubs that match the energy the city displays during the day.
The Ohori neighborhood is home to the Fukuoka Art Museum, which features ancient Buddhist statues alongside more modern pieces by Miro and Dali. This museum is a great reflection of the rich culture that is interwoven into the fabric of Fukuoka, providing locals with a great sense of pride and tourists with a great sense of respect.
The Ohori area is also home to Fukuoka Castle, built centuries ago during the Edo era. Explore what remains of the castle and take note of the history on proud display in the exhibition hall.
Walk just five minutes east of Dazaifu Station to visit Dazaifu Tenmangu, Fukuoka’s most famous shrine. The area surrounding this grandiose structure is popular for ume (plum) flower viewing – especially in the springtime.
Dazaifu has a storied history, as it was home to the Imperial Governing Office of Japan in the 600’s. This district saw many rebellions over the years and was so important politically that the Mongols continually tried to invade it. The area remains a testament to Japan’s growth as a nation and a reflection of imperial glory.
You’ll also find Kyushu National Museum in Dazaifu. Kyushu National Museum is Japan’s youngest National Museum and the first to focus on history over art.
Uminonakamichi Aquarium Area
One of the most popular sites for visitors in Fukuoka is the Marine World Uminonakamichi Aquarium. The aquarium houses more than 30,000 living creatures spanning more than 450 different species. It is one of the largest aquariums in Asia and a must for family or solo travelers alike.
Safety Tips and Concerns
Fukuoka is generally regarded as a pretty safe spot for tourists, though some of its nightlife districts have slightly higher crime rates than other parts of the city.
Crimes that do occur typically involve personal disputes, theft, or vandalism. Non-violent crimes such as pickpocketing occasionally take place in crowded areas such as airports, train stations, shopping areas, and bars.
Follow these tips to keep yourself safe in Fukuoka:
- Only carry as much cash on you as you need for the day. Carry your daypack on the front of you in crowded places and anchor your purse or bag to your chair anytime you sit down.
- Don’t drink excessively or let your drink out of your sight. There have been reports of drink spiking which has led to assault and theft.
- Use an ATM located inside of a bank branch or hotel lobby rather than one located on the street. Do not use ATM machines that show possible signs of tampering and use your free hand to guard your PIN as you enter it.
- Some bars and restaurants include a standard charge on the bill that does not factor in food or drinks. Verify additional charges up front so you are not stuck with a larger bill than you anticipated.
- If you plan to drive in Fukuoka, know that there is very little legal roadside or curbside parking. Also note that Japan has a national zero percent blood alcohol content (BAC) standard for driving.
- Avoid travel to the Fukushima Exclusion Zone.
Medical Facilities in Fukuoka
Whenever you travel internationally, consider whether you need travel medical insurance to cover eligible injuries or illnesses. A trip to the hospital can be expensive – especially in a foreign country. Save yourself some stress about unexpected medical expenses by purchasing travel medical insurance that accommodates your needs and budget.
- What travel health insurance is (and whether you need it!)
- What to look for in a plan for Japan
- How to buy travel health insurance for your trip
If you fall victim to a crime, become suddenly ill or injured, or need emergency assistance during your trip to Fukuoka, call the national emergency number for the police: 110. Also note that the national emergency number for fire/ambulance is 119.
Here are two medical facilities in Fukuoka:
The Fukuoka Sanno Hospital is a general hospital located approximately 20 minutes from the Fukuoka International Airport (near the Fujisaki Station). The hospital is staffed with some of the best physicians in Japan and can provide you with the best care possible.
Phone: +81 92-832-1100
Address: 3 Chome-6-4 5 Momochihama, Sawara Ward, Fukuoka, 814-0001, Japan
International Clinic Tojenmachi
Downtown Fukuoka is home to International Clinic Tojenmachi. This clinic communicates all medical attention and instructions in English, Japanese, German, French, Dutch, and Chinese, ensuring a language barrier won’t prevent you from getting the care that you need.
Phone: +81 92-717-1000
Where to Stay in Fukuoka
Lodging Near Fukuoka Hakatanomori Stadium
Visitors traveling to Fukuoka for the 2019 Rugby World Cup will want to stay close to the stadium. Below are some options for your stay, all within about 10 miles of the stadium:
As the tournament is likely to see a massive number of spectators, book one of these spots as far in advance as possible to avoid price gauges.
The more money you spend on lodging, the less you will have available to spend on food and activities in Fukuoka.
Budget accommodations in Fukuoka usually cost between ¥6,000 - ¥9,000 yen per night. These are the best options to make sure you can enjoy your stay without running your bank account dry:
All of these options are located in the city center and are locally owned. Staying in the city center will help you save a good amount of money on transportation while providing you with a true feel for the city’s unique culture.
Don’t forget a good pair of walking shoes if you decide to stay in one of these budget options in Fukuoka – the city calls!
3-star hotels in Fukuoka average between ¥9,000 - ¥15,000 yen per night. The following mid-range hotels will provide you with many of the modern comforts of luxurious lodging without breaking the bank:
The top luxury hotels in Fukuoka include:
Transportation Options in Fukuoka
The absolute best travel tip we can give you (if you’re traveling Japan for at least a week) is to purchase the Japan Rail Pass. The Japan Rail Pass provides unlimited rides on all bullet trains and any JR-branded commuter trains, buses, or ferries for 7, 14, or 21 consecutive days.
The most inexpensive way to purchase this pass is to buy it online. Validate the pass in person with your passport and a voucher.
You’ll need a valid Japan driver’s license or an International Driving Permit issued in your home country to rent a vehicle while in Fukuoka. Your permit must have been issued within the last calendar year in order to use it in Japan.
Below are the average rates for vehicle rentals in Japan per day:
- ¥5,000 yen - sub-compact car
- ¥7,500 yen - compact car
- ¥10,000 yen - mid-sized car
- ¥15,000 yen - full-sized car
- ¥20,000 yen - van
Transport Unique to the City
Fukuoka’s three subway lines are the Airport line, the Hakozaki line, and the Nanakuma line. A one-day unlimited pass is about ¥620 yen, but this often changes during special events like tournaments and festivals.
Trains run out of Hakata Station, the epicenter of transportation in the Kyushu region. Trains run to many of the tourist destinations we covered above. A daily pass will cost about ¥1,000 yen for adults and ¥680 yen for children.
The most cost-effective option for most travelers in Fukuoka is the bus. A daily bus pass is ¥100 yen for routes inside the city. If you want to see destinations outside of the city, the bus price will be a bit more expensive.
Many tourists decide to rent bikes while on their trip to Fukuoka. The price of renting a bike depends on the number of days.
Expect to spend about:
- ¥1,500 yen for one day
- ¥2,500 yen for two days
- ¥3,500 yen for three days
Activities and Attractions in Fukuoka
Here are some of the top things to see and do on your trip to Fukuoka:
- Shofukuji Temple – Japan’s first Zen temple is a 15-20-minute walk from Hakata Station and offers free admission.
- Uminonakamichi Seaside Park – Built on a peninsula, this spot treats visitors to a scenic afternoon surrounded by gardens and picnic areas. Admission is ¥450 yen, but you can bring your own food and drink.
- Local Yatai – Fukuoka is renowned for its food stalls referred to as yatai. Each one seats about seven people and offers a wide variety of local cuisine at a relatively inexpensive price. This is a favorite among locals and tourists alike!
- Fukuoka Castle Ruins – You’ll be able to walk the remains of this ancient castle without paying an admission fee. See how the city blends its rich past with all of the luxuries of modern living while exploring the grounds.
- Maizuru Park – Maizuru Park is perfect for those who come to Fukuoka for cherry blossom season. From Maizuru Park, you’ll be able to see parts of the castle ruins, including several turrets that were built in the 17th century to defend against invading Chinese forces.
- Asahi Brewery Tour – This is perfect for travelers who like free brewery tours that also come with free beer! Make sure you have an alternate form of transportation other than a rental bike – drinking and riding a bike could get you into a bit of trouble.
- Open Bus Tour – Go on an hour-long open-top bus tour for about ¥2,200 yen. We recommend doing this at the beginning of your stay in Fukuoka so you can get oriented with the city before really exploring.
- Kimono Experience – Immerse yourself into Japanese culture and get fitted for a kimono.
- Ohori Park – Ohori Park offers hiking and a number of small gardens for those who want to get in touch with nature while in Fukuoka. Keep an eye on the time – it is very easy to lose track of the hours while taking in the fresh air and beautiful sites. Admission to the park is ¥20 yen.
- Nokonoshima Island Park – This will be the best sightseeing of your trip to Fukuoka. Set aside some time to see the seasonal flowers and beautiful view of the ocean. This park is also home to some great food and shopping.
- Yanagawa River Cruise and Tea Tasting – Reach the ultimate point of relaxation with this river tour and tea tasting.
- Aoshima (Cat Island) – Visit the uniquely Japanese phenomenon of Aoshima, also known as Cat Island. Just a 20-minute ferry ride from Fukuoka will land you on an island home to an insane number of felines. Cat lovers may never want to leave!
Food and Drink in Fukuoka
Taste real Japanese ramen during your stay on Hakata island. Hakata (the island on which Fukuoka is located) is the birthplace of ramen, and Fukuoka boasts the most delicious ramen in all of Japan.
Fukuoka is said to be the capital of pollock roe (a species of cod). Karashi mentaiko is a very common roe dish which is marinated in salt and red chili peppers. Mentaiko is a very popular ingredient in Japanese cuisine and can be found on many izakaya (tavern) menus.
Fukuoka is one of the few locations in Japan where goma saba (mackerel) is served directly from the sea to plate, often still raw. Raw mackerel with scallions, perilla leaf, seaweed, and grated ginger is the most popular local dish. It is a staple of local diets and a popular choice among visitors in Fukuoka.
Saki, or Japanese rice wine, is the favorite adult beverage in Fukuoka. Saki pairs well with Fukuoka’s raw mackerel specialty.
Some of the top-rated dining establishments are as follows:
- Yoshizuka Unagiya ($$) – Unagi (eel) restaurant in Nakasu, Hakata Ward
- Ippudo Hakata Station ($$) – Ramen restaurant in Fukuoka, Hakata Ward
- Ippudo ($$) – Ramen restaurant in Daimyo, Chuo Ward
- Makino Udon Kitchen ($) – Udon noodle restaurant in Higashihirao, Hakata Ward
- Udon Taira ($) – Udon noodle restaurant in Hakata Ekimae, Hakata Ward