If you’re a tourist looking to experience both the age-old and modern parts of Japanese culture, then there’s no better place to explore than Fukuoka. Being the closest major Japanese city to China and Korean, Fukuoka has become the center of economic trade between its neighbors and, most importantly, a goldmine for unique cultural exchanges over the years.
Even Expat Bet’s guide to Japanese cities describes how it’s particularly known for its diverse food scene, including ramen made from pork stock as well as hot pot dishes. Plus, it also boasts an eclectic nightlife scene with some of the oldest establishments in the country.
That said, here are five fun things to do in Fukuoka on your next trip to Japan:
Stay in ryokan-style lodging
To complete your authentic Japanese experience, stay in one of Fukuoka’s many ryokan-style lodgings. If you’ve ever seen a Samurai movie before, then you’ll know what a Japanese ryokan will look like: paper walls, sliding doors, and hot springs.
Daimaru Besso along Yumachi Chikushino-shi, for example, is a ryokan with as much history as Fukuoka itself, dating back to 1865. Newly built ones like Mori no Nanakusa in the Okagaki-machi district are no less impressive—creating interiors that are a special blend of wooden panels and modern facilities.
Climb the Fukuoka Tower
The Fukuoka Tower is to Fukuoka what the Tokyo Tower is to Tokyo: the best place to see the city skyline in. It was built in 1989 for the Asia Pacific Expo but has long since opened its doors for tourists.
Aside from the excellent view, its interior architecture is nothing to shy away from. Fukuoka Tower is covered in triangular-shaped mirrors from top to bottom, later nicknamed the “mirror sail” for its location on the coast.
You need to pay 800 yen to climb the tower, but foreigners get a 20% discount.
Visit the Hakozaki Shrine
Every tourist knows to place the Hakozaki Shrine on their Fukuoka checklist—one of the three greatest Hachiman shrines in Japan. The original was destroyed during the Mongolian invasion back in 1274, but it was long since rebuilt. What you will see there now is a building that has seen 600 summers.
It’s best to visit it during one of its two major festivals: the Hojoya Festival, which celebrates the lives that allowed us to live and the Tamaseseri Festival, which determines whether or not the country will have a plentiful catch or harvest that year.
See More Festivals Around The World
Try a bowl of tonkotsu ramen
No trip to Fukuoka is complete without a bite off its local specialty: tonkotsu ramen. The broth is made by boiling pork bones for a very long time. In fact, places lile Hakata Ramen Zen and others featured by avid traveler Jonathan Sacks simmer the broth for around 20 hours. The result is a thick and creamy broth with a modest amount of salty, fatty goodness.
Ramen shops will offer the base broth for as low as 300 yen, but it can go up to 800 yen with add-ons.
Tour Canal City at night
Canal City is a huge shopping and entertainment complex in Fukuoka, sometimes called the “city within the city” of Japan. It has over 250 shops, restaurants, cafes, cinemas, a game center and, of course, a canal running through the complex.
According to The Poor Traveler’s Fukuoka article, locals often visit to see fountain shows, such as the “Dancing Water” and “Canal Aqua Panorama.” If your feet are itching for some adventure when the sun goes down, then Canal City is your stop.
Fukuoka offers the complete traveler’s deal—from historic architecture, to fun activities. Once everything calms down, we guarantee that it’ll be worth the visit.