No matter if you’re looking for a place where you can party, enjoy great bars and restaurants, and visit wonderful beaches, or if you would like to learn about Japan’s history and culture, and go sightseeing, Fukuoka will always deliver. This amazing city on Kyushu Island really has it all, so spending one day exploring it is a time well spent. You will immerse yourself completely in modern Japan and connect with its historical roots, all the while enjoying some tasty food and discovering fascinating details. Fukuoka is truly the best of both worlds.
The best time to visit Fukuoka would probably be fall (more precisely, October and November). This is because the weather is quite mild and the trees are dressed in those magical autumn colors, plus there are no crowds compared to spring. That being said, spring is also a great time to visit, especially because of the cherry blossoming. However, this is peak season in Fukuoka.
It should be said that summers are hot and humid, with regular showers and thunderstorms, and winters can be relatively cold, so it’s best to choose between spring and fall for your visit.
As for the festivals and events, there is always something going on in the city since the locals absolutely love celebrations. Dontaku, for example, attracts huge crowds in May with its parades, whereas Hojoya in September has more of a carnival vibe to it. A more modern festival is the Asian Party which lasts throughout September and October, but these are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Trust me, you won’t be bored here!
Fukuoka is located on the northern shore of Kyushu Island and is the capital of the Fukuoka Prefecture. Its population is just over 1.5 million people, which makes it the sixth-largest city in the country. However, it is the city whose population is growing the fastest.
Fukuoka is a foodie paradise because it has a huge concentration of restaurants per 1000 people, second only to Tokyo! So, if you’re looking for a bite to eat, you’ll never have to look far.
This is also a fairly young city because modern-day Fukuoka was created by the merger of two cities – Hakata and Fukuoka – on April 1, 1889. However, the history of the old Fukuoka goals all the way to the 1st century AD.
Interestingly, thanks to its geographical location, Fukuoka is actually closer to Seoul in Korea than to Tokyo.
You are about to visit what is probably one of the most versatile cities in Japan. There’s something for everyone here, so plan your itinerary carefully to make the most of your one day in Fukuoka. Here are the best things to do and see while in town.
Ohori Park is an ideal venue from which to start your exploration of Fukuoka. It is a very pretty park with a big pond right in the middle, and there’s a Starbucks close by if you want to grab some coffee and just people-watch for a while.
However, Ohori Park is also where the ruins of the Fukuoka Castle can be found, so taking a stroll will be well worth it. A lovely pavilion adds to the experience, too.
Finally, you can go and visit the Fukuoka Arts Museum while here and enjoy a very impressive collection of Asian art, primarily from the modern, pre-modern, and contemporary periods. There’s also Ohori Park Japanese Garden, which is also very much worth visiting.
A couple of hours here will simply fly by!
The next item on your itinerary is the Fukuoka Tower, and you can reach it from Ohori Park if you hop onto a bus (Arato 1) and take a 15-minute ride across the city.
With 234 meters, this is the highest seaside tower in the country, and you can climb up to one of the three observation decks, the highest of which stands at 123 meters. One of the decks also has a cafe, so you can sip your coffee with a spectacular view.
The ride up there is also quite spectacular because, thanks to the tower’s glass construction, people can see outside the building as their elevator climbs to the observation deck. Built in 1989, this tower is still one of the main sights in Fukuoka, so be sure not to miss it.
Pro tip: for some breathtaking sights, come here at sunset or after dark.
Once you’re done with the tower, head to the Fukuoka City Museum which is right next door. There is plenty to see here before lunch, so head to the second floor first because this is where the permanent exhibition is.
Here, you will find a section dedicated to the King of Na gold seal, an artifact considered to be one of Japan’s national treasures. This beautiful seal seems to have been made in 57 AD, so it’s almost 2000 years old!
Apart from that, you will learn a lot about the Kuroda samurai clan (check out their armor!) and the Hakata Gion Yamakasa, a festival that has put Fukuoka on the map. On the floor below is the Touch & Experience Room, something that should be an integral part of your visit.
You’ll probably be getting hungry at this point, so do go ahead and make some room in your itinerary for lunch. And if you’re looking for some good restaurants, the area east of Ohori Park has plenty to choose from.
If you’re in the mood for something local, go visit Shin Shin, as this restaurant serves excellent ramen. U.S. Burgers serves exactly what you’d expect, and the burgers here are exceptionally good, whereas Kappo Yoshida is a great choice for seafood dishes. Finally, Hyotan Sushi is a fantastic place for lovers of this traditional Japanese dish.
What is particularly good about the food scene here is that there are plenty of restaurants that focus on original Japanese recipes and food. So, if you want to really taste Japan, you won’t have to go far.
After a nice lunch, it’s time to continue with your one day in Fukuoka, and the next thing on your itinerary is the famous Kushida Shrine. Fortunately, it’s not far, just east of the area with the restaurants we mentioned previously.
Now then, Kushida Shrine is very important to the people of Fukuoka for several reasons. Founded in 757, this shrine hosts the Hakata Gion Yamakasa – the festival you could’ve learned about in the City Museum – every July. Not only that but the shrine is also considered by the locals to be protecting the city.
You can enter the shrine completely free of charge, which makes this an absolute must for every visitor.
Just slightly south is another important shrine – the Sumiyoshi Shrine, also referred to as Chikuzen Sumiyoshi. Impressively, it was built in the 3rd century AD and was the very first in the series of 2000 Sumiyoshi shrines built all over Japan. Now, the Sumiyoshi are gods of the sea and safe sailing in the Shinto religion, so you can see why this was important to the Japanese.
One more thing – the main hall of this shrine is another National Treasure of Japan in Fukuoka, meaning you really should take a moment to enter it. And just like in the previous case, there will be no charge for anyone wanting to enter.
About 20 minutes north on foot from the Sumiyoshi Shrine is the Shofukuji Temple, the very first Zen temple in Japan. It was founded in 1195 and was rebuilt many times, but it still retains that incredible allure.
You cannot visit temple buildings, but the open spaces of the temple are quite enjoyable and very much worth a walk. There is a pond here, numerous gates, and a path surrounded with trees which will take you to a wooden Buddha statue. A lovely way to stop and smell the roses a bit while at the same time continuing with your sightseeing.
Enough with the temples and shrines now – it’s time to shop and enjoy yourself a bit. And for that, you should head out to Canal City, a truly massive shopping center right next to the Kushida Shrine.
You will find absolutely everything here, from restaurants to hotels, and there’s even a canal running through the “city”! Naturally, there are many shops here too, so this is a perfect place to pick up a souvenir or two or to just see what kind of interesting and unique Japanese shops you can find.
In any case, you won’t be bored here!
Should you want to experience Fukuoka nightlife before your day in this city is up, head to Oyafuko-dori, the street where everything comes alive after dark.
You will find plenty of bars and nightclubs around here, and maybe a yatai or two pop up if you feel the urge for a late-night snack and/or hanging out with the locals. While the street did have a bad reputation a while back, today this is a great place to relax and finish your visit to Fukuoka in style.
Believe me, it will be a wonderful night, something you’ll always gladly remember.
Where to stay in Fukuoka?
Miyako Hotel Hakata
812-0013 Fukuoka, Fukuoka, Hakata-ku Hakataeki-higashi 2-1-1, Japan
For the ultimate luxury, book a room in Miyako Hotel Hakata. This five-star beauty in Fukuoka has a rooftop pool, a wellness center, and even a hot spring bath! You can choose between a Western and a Japanese breakfast, and the location is very good, close to several fascinating temples. As for the rooms, suffice it to say they come with pajamas and slippers and are extremely big, especially for Japanese standards. This will be a stay to remember, you can be sure of that!
THE BLOSSOM HAKATA Premier
812-0011 Fukuoka, Fukuoka, Hakata Ekimae 2-8-12, Japan
THE BLOSSOM HAKATA Premier has a whole lot going for it, and you certainly won’t regret booking a room here. This beautiful modern hotel is located in central Fukuoka, very close to the Hakata Station. The breakfast is fantastic, and there is even a convenience store nearby should you need anything. You can even relax in a fantastic sauna here, plus the rooms are all very spacious and air-conditioned. Definitely a place where you can rest and enjoy.
A.T. Hotel Hakata
812-0016 Fukuoka, Fukuoka, Hakata-ku Hakataekiminami 5-26-18 Hakata StationⅡ, Japan
Finding a better deal than what A.T. Hotel Hakata has to offer seems like an impossible task. The place is located in the city center, and there is a bus stop very close by. All guests can enjoy a wonderful terrace and a hot tub, but it’s the rooms where this hotel really shines. Impeccably clean with loads of space, the rooms are also very well equipped, with some of them coming with a stovetop and a fridge. Just relax and enjoy your stay.
810-0074 Fukuoka, Fukuoka, Chuo-ku Otemon 3 Chome 7-9-1 We Ohori 2F, Japan
Many of you may be looking for a hostel in Fukuoka, and one of the best choices is the Yagura Hostel. Its beautiful interior is perfectly maintained, and some rooms even come with a balcony. There is also a sun terrace for all the guests to enjoy. You can get your clothes washed for free, and there are plenty of toiletries to help you out in a pinch. Add to that a very attentive owner, and you get a level of service very few can match.
I’ll bet you anything that you won’t want to leave Fukuoka after just one day. And if you decide to stick around for a bit longer, a day trip from the city is a must. Fukuoka is surrounded by some incredible and very interesting places, so it would be a shame not to visit them while you’re here. Here are a few suggestions!
Dazaifu is a great choice if you want to get a better feel for Japan and learn more about its fascinating history. For five centuries, this city was the center of the whole Kyushu island, so it’s no wonder that there are plenty of temples and shrines to visit. Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine is undoubtedly the most important one, and you can reach this town in just 45 minutes. Well worth it!
Should you require a day trip from Fukuoka where you can relax and enjoy some breathtakingly beautiful nature, Itoshima is the place to go. And it’s only an hour away! The magnificent Anego-hama Beach will make you feel like you’re in Hawaii or something, and the Keya Cave can be explored via a cruise. Finally, there’s also the Shiraito Waterfall for a spectacular end to your day trip.
Not only is Kumamoto City beautiful because of the numerous cherry trees planted all around it, but it also has some spectacular sights you really have to see. Chief among them is the Kumamoto Castle, one of the three most important castles in Japan. Although it is a reconstruction, it still inspires awe in anyone who sees it. Oh, and they make excellent ramen in the city! What are you waiting for?
Now this is a real blast from the past. Kurokawa is an exceptionally charming little town whose biggest selling point is its hot springs. On top of that, everything is very traditional here, so you will see that most houses are made of wood. With loads of public bathhouses, quaint cafes, and great restaurants, this is probably the most relaxing day trip from Fukuoka you can make. You won’t be sorry!
Finally, one of the most popular day trips from Fukuoka – the trip to the Nanzoin Temple. The temple is famous for the huge statue of the reclining Buddha, which is considered to be the biggest bronze statue in the world. In fact, it is significantly bigger than the Statue of Liberty in New York. You can enter the temple freely, and for a small fee, you can also enter the prayer room under this awesome monument.
- If you suddenly feel the urge for some good food while in Fukuoka, look for yatai! These mobile food stands start appearing in the evening, and they are a wonderful way to mingle with the locals and other travelers. Only in Fukuoka!
- November is the month of sumo in Fukuoka! This traditional Japanese form of wrestling is very popular in the country and Fukuoka hosts one of the biggest tournaments. If you’re here during this month, do try and make some time for it.
- Maybe skip on renting a car here – not only do the cars run on the left side of the road but all signs are written in Japanese.
- If you’re from Europe, your charger will probably need an adapter. Hotels should be offering them, but you can also buy them fairly easily in the stores around here.
Make sure you have everything you need
What to pack for your next trip?
Make your next trip as simple and as enjoyable as possible by packing smart. It’s amazing how much stress top travel items can save you, so choose carefully.
Things like lightweight travel backpacks, for example, are ideal for short trips and allow you to move around with ease, and a passport holder will make sure you keep your documents safe at all times.
Check our travel checklist guide for 2021 to make sure you haven’t missed anything, and travel to your next destination in style and with maximum comfort.