Fukuoka City, with the largest population in Kyushu (1,202,000) and the 8th largest in Japan, is the capital city of
Fukuoka Prefecture, located in the northern part of Kyushu Island, the southernmost of the four main Japanese islands.
Blessed with a mild climate all year round, Fukuoka, from long ago, flourished as a trading port and contributed immensely in
bringing foreign cultures into Japan, most notably during the Nara and Heian periods (710-794/794-1191). Because it is so
close to the Asian Continent, continental culture, the basis of Japanese culture, was imported to Japan through the Fukuoka
area at the dawn of the nation's history. The Mongolians who conquered China and established the Yuan Dynasty there
attempted invasions of Japan twice, both times in vain - in 1274 and in 1281 - in this area.
Fukuoka also plays an important role in the fields of politics, culture, economics, and communication. Fukuoka is an
international gateway to southern Japan and a key jumping-off point for touring Kyushu Island. International direct flight
services are available from Pusan, Seoul, Taipei, Hong Kong, Manila, and Honolulu. Domestic airway and railroad networks
link Fukuoka with major cities throughout Japan. Hakata Station is the terminus of the Japan Railways (JR) principal lines in
Kyushu, namely, the Nippo Line for Beppu, Miyazaki, and Nishi-Kagoshima; the Kagoshima Line for Kumamoto,
Yatsushiro, and Nishi-Kagoshima; and the Nagasaki & Sasebo Lines for Saga, Sasebo, or Nagasaki. These four lines are
convenient for tourists traveling around Kyushu Island.
Tourist Information (English spoken):
Located in JR Hakata Station: Tel. (092) 431-3003. Open daily 9:00-7:00
Transportation to Fukuoka: Hakata Station is the terminus of the 1,177 km (735 mile) long Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen
that originates in Tokyo. Fukuoka Airport offers flights to all major airports in Japan, as well as many foreign cities. Fukuoka
Airport is located close to the city center, and is connected by city subway with JR Hakata Station (10 minutes) and other
major parts of the city.
Places of Interest in Fukuoka Prefecture:
The area got its name in 1600 when Nagamasa Kuroda, a feudal lord, was assigned there and named his new castle
"Fukuoka"Jo. From then on the area to the west of the Nakagawa River, where the samurai lived, was called Fukuoka, while
the area east of the river, where the merchants and craftsmen resided, was called Hakata. Fukuoka natives still proudly call
themselves Hakata-kko, even after the politicians chose "Fukuoka" as the name for the whole city. The city is divided by the
Naka River into two parts - the "Hakata" Area on the east side of the river and the "Fukuoka" Proper on its west side.
Hakata Area has developed as a trading merchant's town and even now has the face of a commercial and trading center. On
the other hand, Fukuoka was a castle town of the feudal lord Kuroda in the Edo Period (1603- 1867) and functioned as a
center of politics, foreign diplomacy, and military affairs in western Japan at that time. Today, Fukuoka occupies an important
position in the city administration. In 1889 the castle town "Fukuoka" and commercial town "Hakata" were unified into the
present Fukuoka City. Although Fukuoka has developed into the most modern metropolis in Kyushu, people there preserve
traditional industries and cultures as can be found in local products such as "Hakata-ori" silk textiles or "Hakata-Ningyo" dolls.
Hakata Dontaku Festival on May 3rd and 4th and Hakata Gion Yamagasa Festival from July 1st to July 15th are held and
people parade in the streets in mass dancing troupes, supporting colorful floats.
Transportation in Fukuoka:
There are two traffic centers in Fukuoka City - JR Hakata Station and downtown Tenjin. The terminus of both the City
Subway and Nishitetsu Railways are located in Tenjin. The Nishitetsu Railways offers services in the directions of Dazaifu,
Kurume, Yanagawa, and Omuta. The City Subway has two lines; Ichi-go Line (Line No. 1) operating between Hakata and
Meinohama, where you can connect with the JR Chikuhi Line, and Ni-go Line (Line No. 2) between Nakasu-Kawabata and
Kaizuka. Fukuoka has an extensive network of bus lines which connect major sightseeing spots in and out of the city. Two
bus terminals are located in the city - Fukuoka Kotsu Center at Hakata Station and Fukuoka Bus Center at Tenjin. At these
centers you can not only take bus services within the city but also out of the city for destinations like Saga, Kumamoto,
Nagasaki, etc. A One-Day City Bus Ticket of the Nishitetsu Bus Company is available for 600 which is valid within the 170
yen fare zone in the city. An added plus is that Nishitetsu Bus Services cover almost all the city sightseeing spots.
Map (not clickable)
Sightseeing in Fukuoka
- Fukuoka Kokusai Center: The venue of large conventions and sports meetings, including the Fukuoka Sumo
Tournament in November every year.
- Fukuoka Tower: A 234m (780 foot) tall glass building. You can reach the observatory by elevators. Hours: 9:30 AM
to 11:00 PM (I 0:00 AM to 9:00 PM in winter). Admission: ¥800.
- Fukuoka City Museum: Displays historic objects of the area, including a National Treasure golden seal presented by
China to the King of Wa, a small "nation" in the prehistoric era.
- Hakozakigu Shrine: One of the three main Hachimangu shrines in Japan, this Shinto shrine was established in 923,
dedicated to the guardian gods of peace, business prosperity, and overseas development. The present buildings,
consisting of the oratory, main shrine, and stone "torii" gate, were constructed during the mid-16th to early 17th
centuries, and are now protected as "Important Cultural Properties." (6 min. by JR train or 20 min. by bus from Hakata
- Kushida Jinja Shrine: Fukuoka's most important shrine is dedicated to the Shinto god Susano-ono-Mikoto. The
floats used for the Hakata Yamagasa Festival (July 1-15) are on display in the museum attached to the Shrine. They
feature feudal era costumes and objects, and are quite colorful and elaborate. Hours: 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Admission:
- Marizon: A shopping and restaurant pavilion built over the water. Twin Dome is an indoor sports complex. One of the
domes has been completed and is the home of the professional Fukuoka Daiei Hawks baseball team.
- Nishi (West) Park: There are three large parks in three sections of Fukuoka City, namely Higashi (East) Park,
Minami (South) Park, and Nishi (West) Park. Nishi Park is located literally in the west part of Fukuoka and commands
a bird's-eye view of the city. In the distance, to the northeast across Hakata Bay is Shikanoshima Island where a gold
seal indicating the existence of contacts with the China of the Han Dynasty (25-220 A.D.) was unearthed in 1784. This
island, in the middle of Genkai Quasi-National Park, can be reached in an hour or so by boat across the bay or by bus
along the "Umino-nakamichi" sand bar leading to the island. (10 min. by subway or 20 min. by bus from Hakata
Station, then a 5 min. walk)
- Ohori Park/Fukuoka Castle: This park, about 410,000 square meters in area, was originally part of the outer
defenses of the former Fukuoka Castle, a residence of the Kuroda family in the Edo Period. In the center of the park is
a large pond surrounded by willow and azalea trees beautifully reflecting on the pond surface. In its south end lies the
Fukuoka City Museum, the largest in western Japan. (Open 9:30-17:30, closed on Monday, Admission: 200). The site
of Fukuoka Castle is now known as Maizuru Park. Only the walls of Fukuoka Castle remain, but the location, a hilltop
site, provides fine views of the city. The Heiwadai Baseball Stadium and the site of the Castle Donjon are in its
enclosure. (10 min. by subway or 20 min. by bus from Hakata Station)
- Saibu Gas Museum: A good place to learn about energy generation. Hours: 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Closed on
Mondays. Admission free.
- Seaside Momochi Marine Park: is a large ocean front development, the pride of Fukuoka. The Park features a 1.4
km beach and other recreational facilities.
- Shofukuji Temple: This Zen Buddhist Temple was founded in 1195 by Priest Eisai (1141-1215), who first introduced
Zen doctrines and tea seeds to Japan after studying for four years in China. The temple was badly damaged during
WW II and only occupies a quarter of its former area. Temple buildings are in the typical Zen-style and are designated
as "Important Cultural Properties." While this temple is within walking distance of Hakata Station, it is not to be
confused with the more distant Sofuku-ji Temple. (15 min. walk or 4 min. by bus from Hakata Station)
- Sumiyoshi Shrine: This shrine is said to be one of the oldest shrines in Kyushu and is dedicated to the guardian god of
sailors. The present main shrine, restored in 1623, retains the typical ancient architectural style of "Sumiyoshi-zukuri"
and is preserved as "Important Cultural Property." (15 min. walk or 5 min. by bus from Hakata Station)
- Tenjin/Nakasu: Tenjin is the largest shopping and business center in Kyushu, where many fashion boutiques,
speciality shops, restaurants, coffee shops, and art galleries are located as well as leading business firms, banks, and
public offices. Underground is not lacking of excitement, beneath the Tenjin Intersection lurks the 400 m. long Tenjin
Underground Shopping Malls. Along Watanabe-dori Avenue are two famous department stores, Iwataya, and
Daimaru, the City Subway's Tenjin Station, Nishitetsu-Fukuoka Station, and the Fukuoka Bus Terminal. 500 m. east of
the intersection is Nakasu (literally 'sand bank in the middle of the Naka River'), the quarters of amusement and
nighttime entertainment where many movie theaters, amusement spots, restaurants, discos, bars, and cabarets are
located. (6 min. by subway or 15 min. by bus from Hakata Station)
- Umino-Nakamichi Marine Park: A spacious recreation area for the people of Fukuoka. Ferry boats operate from
the piers near Port Tower and in the Seaside Momochi Marine Park.
Dazaifu, with its incredible shrine, and fascinating temples, is almost close enough to be a suburb of Fukuoka. A day trip is a
good idea, and when followed by a peaceful night in the country in nearby Futsukaichi Onsen, an even wiser choice.
Transportation to Dazaifu:
A Nishitetsu line train will take you to Futsukaichi railway station from Tenjin in Fukuoka in 20 to 30 minutes. From
Futsukaichi, you'll have to change for the two-station ride to Nishitetsu-Dazaifu railway station. Alternatively, you can take a
JR train from JR Hakata station to Kokutetsu-Futsukaichi (the JR station) and then a bus to Nishitetsu-Futsukaichi.
Sightseeing in Dazaifu
- Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine: In the Nara and Heian Eras, a branch of Kyoto's imperial court was established in
Daizaifu to conduct trade and diplomatic contacts with China and other Asian countries. The shrine, the most important
historic monument in northern Kyushu, welcomes hundreds of thousands of visitors every year. Dazaifu Temmangu
Shrine was established in 905, being dedicated to Michizane Sugawara (845-903), a great scholar in Chinese literature
who has been worshiped as a guardian god of learning. The present main shrine was built in 1590. In the precincts of
the shrine are 6,000 "ume" (apricot) trees blooming from the tail end of January to March, the Treasure House (¥300),
and the Kanko Historical Museum (¥200), where Michizane's life is illustrated by "Hakata-ningyo" dolls. (From
Nishitetsu-Fukuoka Station, take a Nishitetsu train bound for Dazaifu, 40 min., ¥360)
- Komyo-ji Temple: This small temple features the Ittekikaino-niwa Garden, a beautiful example of a Zen garden, and
refreshingly peaceful compared to the crowds visiting more popular places.
- Kaidan-in & Kanzeon-ji Temples: Now a Zen Buddhist temple the Kaidan-in dates from 761 AD and was one of
the most important monasteries in Japan. The adjacent Kanzeon-ji Temple dates from 746 AD but only the 697 AD
bell, said to be the oldest in Japan, remains from the original construction.
- Tenman-gu Treasure Hall: This treasure hall has a wonderful collection of statuary, most of it of wood, dating from
the 10th to 12th centuries and of impressive size. The style of some of the pieces is more Indian or Tibetan than
Japanese. The display is open from 9 am to 5 pin and entry is ¥400.
- Other Attractions: The Dazaifu Exhibition Hall displays finds from local archaeological excavations and is open daily
from 9 am to 4.30 pm except Mondays. Nearby are the Tofuro Ruins, foundations of the buildings from the era when
Dazaifu governed all of Kyushu. Enoki-sha is where Sugawara Michizane died and from here his body was transported
to its burial place, now the shrine, on the ox cart which appears in so many local depictions. The Kyushu Historical
Museum near the shrine is open from 9.30 AM to 4.30 PM daily except Mondays; admission is free.
Places of Interest Around Fukuoka Prefecture
- Genkai Quasi-National Park:
The Genko fort wall at Imajuku is in the Genkai Quasi-National Park and the nearby Obaru beach offers surprisingly
good swimming although there are even better beaches further west. Keya-no-Oto (Great Cave of Keya) is at the
western end of the Itoshima Peninsula. It's a popular tourist attraction and buses run there directly from the Kotsu bus
center in Hakata, taking about 1 hours.
The town of Kurume, south of Dazaifu, is noted for its crafts including paper making, bamboo work and tie-dyed
textiles. Pottery is also produced in nearby towns. The Ishibashi Bunka Center is a Bridgestone sponsored art museum
(open from 10 am to 5 pm daily except Mondays) and the town also has the Bairin-ji Temple and the Suitengu Shrine.
It takes about half an hour to get to Kurume from Fukuoka, either on the JR line or the Nishitetsu railway line.
- Yanagawa City:
Dubbed the "Town of Canals," Yanagawa thrived as a castle town for the Yanagawa Clan during the Edo Period
(1600-1868). Those same canals, lined with willow and flowering cherry trees, still criss-cross the city and give it a
serene ambiance. To fully savor the nostalgic quality peculiar to Yanagawa, board a boat for a quiet ride along the
canals. The symbol of Yanagawa as a tourist attraction is "ohana," a residential villa created for the fourth-generation
lord of the Yanagawa Clan. (1 hr. 20 min. on JR's Kagoshima Honsen Line to Setaka Station, then 20 min. by bus)