Fukuoka Prefecture is the gateway to Kyushu, Japan’s third-largest island. The prefecture is made up of four regions: Fukuoka, including Fukuoka City, Chikuho, Kitakyushu, and Chikugo.
The prefecture has so much to offer, from breathtaking scenery, fascinating history and incredible outdoor adventure beaches to hot springs, fresh seafood and a fusion of cuisines.
Perhaps Japan’s best-kept secret from the global travel community, Fukuoka is particularly popular in the domestic tourism market, while relatively undiscovered by international tourists. Fukuoka is a desirable hidden gem just waiting to be explored.
Fukuoka City is loosely divided east and west of the Naka River. Hakata is Fukuoka’s business hub and the Tenjin Area is the cultural heart of Fukuoka City. It is home to cafes, restaurants and bars, fashion, boutiques and retail stores. Nakasu is Fukuoka’s famous entertainment district which comes alive after dark.
How to get to Fukuoka
Fukuoka Airport is located just ten minutes from the city centre and has flights to many key hubs, both domestically and internationally. Kitakyushu Airport located in Kitakyushu City also offers access to Fukuoka City and is just 60km from Fukuoka Airport.
To get to Fukuoka from Australia, the quickest flight options are via Tokyo or Osaka. It’s also easily accessed through international hubs such as Seoul-Incheon, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taipei and Bangkok.
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If you prefer to see the countryside as you travel, it takes about five hours from Tokyo or three hours from Osaka on one of Japan’s shinkansen (bullet trains). Hakata Station is the main transport hub and is directly connected to the city subway and bus terminal.
Once you arrive, it is easy to get around by rail or bus. Self-driving is straightforward too with all road signs soon to display English, as well as Japanese.
Top reasons to visit Fukuoka Prefecture
Surrounded by the ocean and with 18% of the prefecture land designated as parks, Fukuoka offers beautiful and diverse natural scenery. The mild climate can be enjoyed throughout the year, with the mountains even seeing snow in winter.
Fukuoka has all manner of landscapes, from rugged mountain ranges, lush green forests, and stunning coastal towns. Fukuoka’s changing seasons produce an abundance of colour, from the cherry and plum blossoms of spring to the vivid reds of autumn.
If your perfect trip is on two wheels and under your own steam, there are plenty of cycle trails, such as the 70km Asakura and Tachiarai route.
For active travellers, Fukuoka has six official Olle trekking courses, where you can take in some spectacular views and historic sites while experiencing the rich culture.
Heritage & culture
The old port and merchant town of Hakata merged with samurai castle town Fukuoka back in 1889, creating the Fukuoka City we know today. Hakata is synonymous with Fukuoka and commonly refers to the culture and cuisine of the city.
Culture buffs will love visiting the Kyushu National Museum and Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, as they provide a glimpse into local history and culture.
Relax like a local in a Japanese onsen (hot spring)
With six major onsens in the prefecture (each offering a unique experience) from outdoor onsens in nature to city escapes, you’re spoilt for choice, while experiencing a rejuvenating dip in the warm waters.
Discover shrines and temples
There are over 3000 shrines and temples scattered throughout Fukuoka. One of the most important Tenmangu shrines in Japan is Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine, located in the historic town of Dazaifu. It’s known as the guardian deity of students and worshipped for learning, culture and the arts. Travellers love visiting in February and March when the shrine’s 6000 plum trees bloom.
Fukuoka’s cuisine offers a fusion of flavours drawing inspiration from neighbouring countries of China and Korea. The rich food scene is the origin of many popular dishes, such as udon and soba noodles and, of course, Tonkotsu ramen. This style of ramen is full of flavour and characterised by its rich and creamy broth derived from boiling pork bones (for up to 20 hours) along with pork slices, boiled egg and thin noodles.
Located in Nagahama, Nakasu and Tenjin in Fukuoka City, the yatai food stalls line the streets, creating a warm and inviting atmosphere. Dine with the locals and savour traditional Japanese street food like yakitori skewers, odun hot pot, gyoza dumplings, tempura and some of the best Tonkotsu ramen.
Sake lovers thrive in Fukuoka. Fukuoka Prefecture boasts around 70 producers of hundreds of brands of Japanese sake. Chikugo’s Jojima is an area well known for its sake, with its quality water and fresh produce helping it thrive.
Festivals & events
Fukuoka offers a variety of events year-round, from wine and jazz festivals to events celebrating the seasons and festivals celebrating inherited traditions. The prefecture has an extensive and fun-filled events and festival calendar, no matter what time you visit.
Hakata Gion Yamakasa (Float) Festival
Kushida Shrine’s biggest festival and launches summer in Fukuoka. The ‘calm’ decorative floats designed by local artisans depict the world of Nishikie (colour woodblock prints) three-dimensionally, while the ‘active’ floats are carried around by men from seven districts in Fukuoka City, interweaving to create the perfect festive blend. The finale, ‘Oiyama’, in particular, is the climax of the ‘active part of the festival, followed by the “calm” portion when Hakata returns to its usual self.
Tobata Gion Oyamagasa Festival
During the day magnificent nobori yamagasa floats featuring red and white banners and embroidered decorations transform into chochin yamakasa – 12 level pyramids of light reaching 10 metres, weighing almost 2.5 tonnes and made up of 309 lanterns! A spectacle not to be missed.
For more on Fukuoka visit discoverfukuoka.com.au
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