I’ve been to Japan twice before, but only ever to the cities of Osaka / Kyoto (Kansai). When my grandmother offered to take the whole family to Fukuoka, I jumped at the offer. (Well, to be honest, I would have jumped at any offer to travel.) Fukuoka is located on the southernmost island of Japan in the Kyushu region. Each city I’ve been to in Japan has had such different characteristics, so it’s always interesting and new.
Here are 5 things I particularly enjoyed about visiting Fukuoka:
The laid back city life
Fukuoka is definitely more laid back than the other major cities such as Tokyo, Osaka, or Kyoto. You can still feel the “rural” vibe and you’ll be surprised at how much personal space you have. I went into the subway at peak morning rush hours, and there was more than enough room on the trains and platforms. I was actually shocked at how empty the station seemed.
The park in the middle of the city
I love going to parks when I travel abroad, so I made it a point to put Ohori Park on our itinerary. I expected a decent sized park surrounding a lake, but I didn’t realize how much there was to see and explore. We needed more time to walk around! As it was, my family and I spent a good hour and a half there and we only got past the second bridge on the little island (Mostly because everyone wanted to stop and take pictures every 50 steps…). We didn’t even make it to the castle ruins!
The birth place of tonkotsu ramen
Okay, so I know there is great ramen all over Japan, and to be honest, I’m not much of a connoisseur. I love ramen, but at a certain level of awesomeness, I can’t really tell the difference anymore. Fukuoka holds the distinction though of being the birth place of Tonkotsu Ramen, which happens to be my favorite kind. In Canal City Hakata, they have an entire floor dedicated to ramen. They call it the Ramen Stadium and only serve the best of the best (Do note that Ichiran is so popular they have their own separate location at Canal City). Eating ramen in Japan is truly an experience and when in Fukuoka, you can’t get enough.
The central location
While there isn’t much to do in the city itself, except eat and shop, the location is central to nearby tourist spots and easily accessible by train. I particularly enjoyed our excursion to Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine, a place where many students come to pray for their education. The area surrounding the shrine itself was very pleasant to walk around, with small shops selling knick-knacks lining the streets.
The endless shopping
I personally don’t enjoy shopping, but that seems to be what my family members liked the most. I was surprised to find that Fukuoka had a pretty strong thrift shopping culture that seems popular with the younger generation. Of course my personal shopping list included a lot of Japanese skincare products that I had run out of since my last trip. Unfortunately, many of the items that were so easy to spot in Osaka didn’t seem to be as accessible in Fukuoka.
We tried to keep the itinerary light in consideration of the group, but there’s still so much I want to see and explore. Next time I visit Fukuoka, I’d love to do day trips to the nearby prefectures of Nagasaki and Saga. I always find Japan so beautiful, and I can’t wait to go back.