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!