Participating in a festival (matsuri) is one of the many things to do while you visit Fukuoka.
Dontaku is one of the top three biggest festivals in Fukuoka. Held in May, it attracts about 2.1 millions visitors to see its parades and performances.
Another matsuri, Hakata Gion Yamakasa festival, celebrated in July, is based around Kushida shrine. During the festival, men in the traditional costumes carry massive, ornate floats that have been decorated in Hakata dolls (Japanese traditional clay dolls), around the city as fast as they can run.
It has been recognized by UNESCO on its list of intangible cultural heritage as “Yama, Hoko, Yatai, float festivals in Japan” - also on this list, we can see Tobata Gion Oyamagasa Festival held in Kitakyushu City’s Tobata ward in July. If you want to know more about the history of Hakata Gion Yamakasa festival, you can visit the Hakata History Museum in Kushida shrine of Hakata.
Hojoya holds a buddhist festival at Hakozaki shrine around the middle of September that packs in crowds who have come to enjoy the vendors and carnival atmosphere along a one-kilometre pathway to the shrine.
Craftsmen from many regions of Japan are noted for their hand-made dolls, but Hakata dolls -- a traditional Japanese clay doll, originally from the city of Fukuoka -- are perhaps the most famous. Their realistic proportions and faces featuring a colourful touch make them famous around the world.
Another traditional craft to of Fukuoka’s is Hakata weaving. With a history of over 770 years, Hakata weaving consists of hira-ori (plain weave) incorporating elegant, detailed designs, and mon-ori (armure – a fabric made with a twilled or ribbed surface). The main Hakata weaving product has traditionally been the obi (sash worn with kimono), but these days weavers also produce neckties and interior fabrics.
Another than that, Fukuoka has another weaving called Kurume Kasuri which is a type of double-ikat weaving, where beautiful indigo fabrics are produced in family-run businesses in Kurume. Hakata also features the unique and traditional entertainment known as Hakata Kenban. A kenban is a company which both manages geisha and acts as agent for the Japanese style drawing rooms where the geisha traditionally entertain.
Although Fukuoka Prefecture is home to bustling urban scenery like Fukuoka City, it boasts all the nature that you could hope to visit as well.
Located next to Fukuoka City, Itoshima boasts a sparkling view filled with blue sea, while offering a laid-back lifestyle, cool cafes and restaurants, and beach activities like surfing. The most popular spot here is Sakurai Futamigaura, where you can watch the sunset framed between two giant rocks. This view has also been selected as one of Japan's top spots to view the sunset.
Yanagawa is known as “The City of Water” located in the southern area of Fukuoka Prefecture. Upon arrival, make sure to enjoy a peaceful and traditional river cruise to see plenty of green nature from season to season. After getting off the cruise, you might want to try Yanagawa’s traditional local cuisine, steamed eel.
You can also witness beautiful nature in areas like Nokonoshima Island, known for its stunning views of flowers blooming in spring. Located on the coast, Fukuoka has many beaches which offer several marine activities as well. Seaside Momochi - Fukuoka's modern waterfront located on reclaimed land along Hakata Bay - features several beaches, offering a stunning view.
With a circumference of 12km, Shika Island is another natural gateway within Fukuoka Prefecture, accessible by a short ferry ride for 30 minutes from Hakata port. Bikes can be rented at the ferry port - a great way to pass the time, as the island provides a gorgeous and flat roadway for coastal cycling to discover its tremendous scenery. You can also find bliss in the local seafood, hot springs, and the warm interactions with locals at the island’s various shops.
Fukuoka is one of the leading fruit-producers in all of Japan’s Prefectures, so visitors can enjoy picking seasonal fruits like strawberries, grapes, pears and persimmons almost all year around. Most fruit farms are scattered around Chikugo area, located just one hour from Fukuoka City.
Located in Asakura City along the Chikugo river, Harazuru Onsen is one of the biggest hot spring towns in Fukuoka. The source contains two kinds of spring quality, both alkalescent simple spring, and sulfur spring, which has an effect for removing old keratin and skin. Harazuru Onsen provides a great place to unwind while soaking in its rich springs after visiting the venue for the Rugby World Cup 2019.
Fukuoka is well known for its local cuisine, popular among both foreign tourists and Japanese.
One of the most popular of Fukuoka’s local dishes is pork broth-based tonkotsu ramen. There are plenty of ramen shops in Fukuoka Prefecture, and different areas of Fukuoka City, where you can try some variations of tonkotsu ramen, like Hakata Ramen and Kurume Ramen to explore a bit and sample some of the options.
Mizutaki is a chicken hot pot and is one of Fukuoka’s well-known local dish that is over 100 years old. Seasonal vegetables are simmered in the refined flavour of chicken bone soup, then dipped in pon-zu sauce (citrus-based soy sauce), resulting in a warm, yet fresh flavour.
When it comes to a hot pot, Motsunabe is Fukuoka’s most renowned dish. Made out of tripe, garlic, cabbages, chives, and a red pepper, this high protein, low-calorie hot pot is exceedingly popular - especially when the weather gets cold.
The birthplace of udon noodle, Fukuoka has a long history behind its regional udon. Hakata udon is different from udon from other regions, as it is characterized by its soft and tender noodles. While the Hakata-style ramen noodles are often al dente, the udon are whole different experience.
With just a glimpse of its sparkling harbour and rugged natural coastline, you might realise that Fukuoka’s seafood is one of the best in Japan. Fukuoka’s specialties are squid, shrimp, mackerel, and sea bream. As they are unloaded as fresh fish, never frozen, simple dishes like sashimi, nigiri (sushi), tempura, meuniere, or grilled fish taste unbelievably good here.
Amaou strawberries are large, round and well-formed, and are named after their respective specialities such as “sweet (Amai)”, “round (Marui)”, “big (Ookii)”, and “tasty (Umai).” Taste their sweetness as is, or try it on some of Fukuoka’s confectionary which uses Amaou strawberries.
Stroll around Fukuoka’s gourmet streets and to jumping into your favourite shops - there is never a dull moment while sampling Fukuoka’s local cuisine!
Facing China and the Korean Peninsula, Fukuoka has played an important role as a gateway for international trade and national defence since ancient times - the influence of which is still felt in today’s Japan. Here you can discover the highlights of these historical and cultural sites, and the significance they still hold in Fukuoka Prefecture today.
Designated by UNESCO’s World Heritage list as “Sacred Island of Okinoshima and Associated Sites in the Munakata Region” in 2017, Fukuoka City’s Munakata Taisha Shrine represents the head of several thousands of Munakata Shrines in Japan. The shrine has attracted visitors since ancient times as housing the god of paths, to whom visitors pray for nautical and traffic safety. At this historic sight, they showcase about 80,000 national treasures unearthed on Okinoshima Island.
Just 20 km away from the centre of Fukuoka City is Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine built in honor of Sugawara Michizane - a scholar and poet who was known as the God of wisdom- as 8 million people now pay homage to him at this sight in the hopes of recognising their wishes for knowledge. During March, about 6,000 plum trees are in full bloom, with red and white colours.
The architecture of Kokura Castle provides a gorgeous spectacle, with its tower and the stone walls. The castle grounds are now known as Katsuyama Park, which attracts visitors for flower-viewing during the spring, offering several spots to lounge in, amidst over 300 cherry blossom trees contained within the park. Similarly, you will notice the autumn colours of Japanese zelkova surrounding the castle park in fall.
Built by famous Buddhist priest, Kukai, after his training in China in hopes that esoteric Buddhism would spread to the far East in 806, Tocho-ji Temple is the first temple of Shingon Esoteric Buddhism in Japan and features the largest wooden statue of Buddha seated on a pedestal known as “Fukuoka Daibutsu”. Standing about 26 metres in height, you will also witness the stunning red, wooden five-story pagoda.
Originally built as a second home for the sixth lord of Fukuoka, Kuroda Tsugutaka, Yusentei Park is a pure Japanese-style garden. Here you may see koi fish swimming in the pond surrounded by many kinds of trees including maples, the fragrant olives, and azaleas. The beauty of their changing leaves in fall is not to be missed!
Toho Village, located in the east of Fukuoka Prefecture is known for its warm and homey atmosphere, and renowned pottery. This village boasts about 50 kilns, most of which feature ceramic galleries. If you are lucky, you may have a chance to learn about it from the craftsman working in their studios!