Travel Guide Asia Japan Kyushu Fukuoka

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Introduction

Huge Ferris Wheel in Fukuoka

Huge Ferris Wheel in Fukuoka

© All Rights Reserved jbennett

Fukuoka, on the northern shore of the island of Kyūshū, is the capital of Fukuoka Prefecture and one of Japan's major trading ports. It is considered the gateway to southern Japan and is also the main city for Chinese and Korean culture.

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Neighbourhoods

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Sights and Activities

  • Nakasu - This area is next to Tenjin and is Fukuoka's red-light district, with over 3,500 restaurants, as well as ramen stalls (yatai), shopping, pubs, hostess bars, rooftop beer gardens in summer, one surviving movie theater, and sex trade. The neon lights on the Naka River are famous with over 60,000 visitors a day, and it has the busiest street in Kyushu.
  • Gion - This area has several historical shrines and Buddhist temples, including the 8th century Kushida Shrine, starting point for the annual Gion-Yamakasa Festival, Tochoji with its 10.8-metre wooden Great Buddha, and Shofukuji, Japan's first Zen temple.

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Events and Festivals

Traditional Festivals

Japan has countless traditional festivals and holidays. Then when you add the local festivals that number just grows and grows. Here is a list of the few major national traditional festivals.

  • Japanese New Year (January 1) - the most important holiday in Japan. Although there are lots of customs and traditions most of them are done in the private. This is mainly a family holiday and Japan can feel very empty as almost everyone goes home. Travelling in Japan in during this time is difficult because everything is shut down.
  • Seijin No Hi (2nd Monday of January) - the coming of age holiday for Japanese women which 20. Traditionally families will buy any young woman how turned 20 in the last year a kimono. On this day almost all Japanese women will ear a kimono.
  • Hin Festival (March 3) - Also known as doll festival the Hin Matsuri festival is meant for young women. In early february families with daughters put dolls in order to make the women happy and healthy later in life. On Girls Day, on March 3, the dolls are put away until next year.
  • Shichi Go San Festival (Novermber 5) - Boys who are 3 and 5, and girls 3 and 7 are taken to a shinto shrine in traditional Japanese dress. The children are brought there to pray for good luck, good health and wealth.

National Holidays

  • Golden Week - Is quite often referred to as the "Japanese Spring Break." It is a combination of many state holidays, including Showa Day, Greenery Day, Children's Day, and Constitution Memorial Day in order to give a full week off. It takes place during the first full week of May. Everyone gets this week off in Japan so it is very bad time to travel because everything is crowded, expensive and most hotels will be full. There is also a major festival in the southern city of Fukuoka this week, it is called Hakata Dontaku.

Local Festivals

  • Hakata Yamasaka Gion matsuri (02 Jul 2013 - 15 Jul 2013) - It's a more than 700-year-old festival stil alive with traditions. Famous for its one ton float-racing, it has a 750-year history, attracts up to a million spectators, and in 1979 was designated an Important Intangible Folk Cultural Property. The sound of the Kaki Yamakasa has been selected by the Ministry of the Environment as one of the 100 Soundscapes of Japan. Address: Hakata the center of Fukuoka, Hours: All day long, Price: Free

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Weather

Fukuoka has a humid subtropical climate and it has hot humid summers and relatively mild winters. The city also sees on average about 1,600 mm of precipitation per year, with a stretch of more intense precipitation between the months of June and September. Along with much of the prefecture, Fukuoka City has a moderate climate with an annual average temperature of 16.3 °C, average humidity of 70% and 1,811 annual daylight hours. Roughly 40% of the year is cloudy. Winter temperatures rarely drop below 0 °C and it rarely snows, though light rain does fall on most days if not as consistently as on the Sea of Japan side of Honshu.[5] Spring is warm and sunnier, with cherry blossoms appearing in late March or early April. The rainy season (tsuyu) lasts for approximately six weeks through June and July, during which time the humidity is very high and temperatures hover between 25 °C and 30 °C. Summers are humid and hot, with temperatures peaking around 37 °C. Autumn, often considered to be Fukuoka's best season, is mild and dry, though the typhoon season runs between August and September.

JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Avg Max9.9 °C11.1 °C14.4 °C19.5 °C23.7 °C26.9 °C30.9 °C32.1 °C28.3 °C23.4 °C17.8 °C12.6 °C
Avg Min3.5 °C4.1 °C6.7 °C11.2 °C15.6 °C19.9 °C24.3 °C25 °C21.3 °C15.4 °C10.2 °C5.6 °C
Rainfall68 mm71.5 mm112.5 mm116.6 mm142.5 mm254.8 mm277.9 mm172 mm178.4 mm73.7 mm84.8 mm59.8 mm
Rain Days9.18.311.19.89.311.210.68.99.96.28.38.5

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Getting There

By Plane

Fukuoka Airport (FUK) is the main gateway to Fukuoka and the west of Japan. Destinations include most major Japanese cities and international destinations like Taipei, Beijing, Shanghai Pudong International Airport, Busan, Seoul, Qingdao, Guangzhou, Shenyang, Guam, Manila, Singapore, Bangkok and Ho Chi Minh City.

By Train

Fukuoka's Hakata Station is the terminus of the Sanyo Shinkansen (south) and Kyushu Shinkansen (north). Sanyo Shinkansen services are offered from Kokura in Kitakyushu (20 min), Hiroshima (1 hr), Okayama (1¾ hr) and Osaka (2½ hr), and through via the Tokaido Shinkansen from Kyoto (2¾ hr by Nozomi), Nagoya (3½ hr by Nozomi) and Tokyo (5 hr by Nozomi).

If you have a Japan Rail Pass, you cannot use the Nozomi (runs between Tokyo and Hakata) and Mizuho (runs between Shin-Osaka and Kagoshima-Chuo via Hakata), so if you are traveling from Tokyo or Nagoya you will have to take one of the two hourly Hikari trains from Tokyo and change at Shin-Osaka (alternatives are Shin-Kobe, Okayama, and sometimes Himeji) to a Sakura (or Hikari runs between Shin-Osaka and Hakata only late in the evening) service. Travel time from Tokyo to Fukuoka using these trains is 6 hours.

Another option from Tokyo is to take a westbound sleeper express such as the Sunrise Izumo or Sunrise Seto, leaving Tokyo around 10PM, and then connecting to the Shinkansen at Okayama (or Himeji) early in the morning, to arrive in Fukuoka just before 08:30 (or by 09:15 if you have a Rail Pass and use a Sakura service). While this takes much longer and costs more than the Shinkansen (from ¥25,000), it provides the benefit of doubling as lodging and transport.

From Kagoshima, Kyushu Shinkansen Mizuho and Sakura trains make the run to Fukuoka in 80–90 minutes at a cost of ¥10,170. The Mizuho is not valid with the Japan Rail Pass. Most Sakura trains do travel through Fukuoka, connecting Kagoshima to Osaka with no transfers.

From Nagasaki, the limited express Kamome runs hourly (sometimes twice an hour), taking 2 hr and costing ¥4,710 each way.

For historical reasons, Fukuoka's train station is called Hakata. If you search for schedules to "Fukuoka" online, you will likely be given an itinerary for Fukuoka station, located in Toyama, in Hokuriku district of Japan.

By Bus

Many overnight bus services run into Fukuoka from other parts of the country.

The Moonlight overnight bus runs from Osaka Umeda to Fukuoka in 9½ hr (¥10,000 one way); The Kyoto overnight bus runs from Kyoto to Fukuoka, also in 9½ hr (¥10,500 one way); and the oddly-named Dontaku runs from Nagoya to Fukuoka in 11 hr (¥10,500 one way).

Willer Express has a service from Osaka/Kyoto/Kobe from ¥4,800 with advance purchase tickets as cheap as ¥4,100. Other services are Nagoya (¥5,400), Okayama (¥4,300) and Hiroshima (¥2,500). They have an English website with online booking available. Discounts for tickets purchased 21 and 14 days in advance.

If you're really ambitious, Nishitetsu bus runs an overnight service, the Hakata, from the Shinjuku expressway bus terminal in Tokyo to Fukuoka non-stop. The ride, at just over 14 hr, is Japan's longest overnight bus service (¥8,000 for economy class ¥12,000 for high seasons, ¥15,000 for business class and ¥19,000 for 1st class, some round-trip discounts are available).

By Boat

Mirajet has high speed ferries between Busan and Fukuoka, taking only 3 hours. JR Beetle, a Japanese based company, offers the same service.The Camellia-line ferry service is much slower (15 hours) but almost twice as cheap.

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Getting Around

Fukuoka is served by 3 subway lines. The Hakata subway station, located under the JR Hakata Station, can take passengers straight to Fukuoka International Airport (6 minutes, ¥250), and to Tenjin, the city's de facto downtown district, and other major stops. An all day subway pass Ichinichi johshaken costs ¥600 on weekdays, all day passes on weekends and some holidays, called Ecopasses, are ¥500, while a ticket to the next station Otonari kippu ¥100;, and most commonly travelled distances ¥200 and up. The local rechargeable contactless smart card is called Hayakaken and is compatible with other smart cards like PASMO (Tokyo) and ICOCA (Kyoto and Osaka).

Fukuoka is well served by Nishitetsu buses. Buses around the Tenjin and Hakata area cost ¥100. Outside that area, prices go up slightly to about ¥440 for greater distances.

Downtown is small and compact enough to potentially wander around on foot. In the Tenjin area, Tenjin Chikagai (underground city) runs under Watanabe street and has many shops. It also connects the Tenjin and Tenjin Minami subways stations with most major department stores and the Nishitetsu Fukuoka station. There is a passenger tunnel which connects Hakata and Gion subway stations and is useful during the frequent rains in summer and the bitter cold winds in winter, the latter of which is close to some of Fukuoka's temples and shrines.

Taxis are available; they start from about ¥550, not the cheapest way to go. Some drivers speak English, but it's best to have your destination written down in Japanese if you do not speak the language. Velotaxis are also available; they are ¥500 for the greater Tenjin area. Also, an environmentally friendly option is the human operated bicycle taxis.

If you can get a hold of a bicycle, it is probably the best way to get around. Parking does become a problem in some areas, but in Tenjin there are long term (06;00-23:00) underground parking areas, which are free for the first 3 hours. BIC Camera's 8th floor, which is opposite Kego shrine, has free bicycle parking from 10:00-21:00.

In addition to the free parking in Tenjin, street bicycle meters are another great spot to park a bike. Much like many shopping centers around the world, it takes about ¥100 to release the bike lock, that wraps around the front wheel to be connected back into the slot. For a safer bicycle parking, use two bike locks and chain the front and back tires to the body of the bike.

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Eat

Hakata is famous for its style of ramen, which has a very pungent smell thanks to a pork rib broth called tonkotsu (豚骨). Enjoy it with pickled ginger and lots of sesame seeds. Save the broth, because you can order a refill of noodles (kaedama) for around ¥300 at many places.

Although there are restaurants all over town serving ramen at various price levels, some of the best joints are yatai, mobile food stalls. The stalls are set up early evening and can be found on major streets; particularly in Tenjin (near the post office), Nakasu and Nagahama-Dori. Also, along the river from Canal City, an entire strip of yatai can be found. Although ramen is the norm, you can find anything from yakitori to Italian cuisine. Brush up on your Japanese or pointing skills as these guys don't speak English at all.

Another regional product Hakata is famous for is the spicy mentaiko (明太子), or cod roe condiment, though in actuality these days it is all imported. Both products are widely available for tourists in JR Hakata Station as well as major department stores, although the mentaiko needs to be refrigerated.

Fukuoka is also known for having good gyoza (pork dumplings) and there are many places to try some. They are a perfect appetizer/side dish for ramen.

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Drink

Yatai, or street stalls, are plentiful throughout Fukuoka and present a great place to grab a bite to eat and drink while mixing with the locals. Yatai are usually a last stop on a pub crawl since they provide cheap eats that taste better after a long night, and it's easier to start a conversation with a stranger after many beers. Don't rely on one for dinner! And bring your meishi (business cards) if you have any, because they often get swapped here.

Tenjin, ¥100 by bus from Hakata Station or to the west of Fukuoka Nishitetsu Station, is one of the best places in the whole country to explore Japanese nightlife. This also includes Daimyo, a farther out area which is becoming the "new Tenjin". Unlike comparable areas in Tokyo, there are no scam bars in Tenjin, and the "snack bars" are not ridiculously overpriced. The area is aimed towards the locals but it is still large, new, fashionable, and full of unique experiences. This is one of the safest places imaginable to drop into a new bar, so why not give it a try?

Some of the smaller bars down the backstreets will often have a table charge of ¥200-500 per person. This usually means you get a tiny bowl of nuts, chips or pickled octopus.

For less adventurous groups, the area abounds with chain izakaya (Japanese pubs) that have picture menus which make it easy for the traveler who speaks no Japanese. Watami わたみ wara wara わらわら are two such chains. Shirokiya, another izakaya, is decent and fairly easy to find. It is on Nishi-dori, across from the Nishtetsu Grand Hotel above Kitamura Camera in the same building as Sam and Dave's, a night club popular with the hip-hop crowd.

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Sleep

There are several hotels located around Hakata Station, as well as the Gion area, Nakasu, and Tenjin. Hotel options range from capsule hotels and reasonably priced western hotel rooms to more expensive tourist hotels.

View our map of accommodation in Fukuoka or use the form below to search for availability (Travellerspoint receives a commission for bookings made through the form)

Booking.com

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Work

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Learn

There are several schools for studying Japanese in Fukuoka.

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Keep Connected

Internet

Manga cafes are dotted along the streets of almost every city in Japan. For a very reasonable price (about ¥100 per 15 minutes), you receive a private cubicle with a PC with internet access at blistering Japanese internet speeds. The chairs are incredibly comfortable (making them an excellent place to sleep for the cash-deprived), and you can even order snacks and drinks from the staff.

A number of business hotels have Internet access available if you have your own device, sometimes for free. It is also possible to find Wi-Fi "hot spots" around many large cities in Japan, especially near tech-related businesses and large corporate buildings with unsecured wireless networks. 3G Wireless Data and Pocket Wifi are other options.

Phone

See also: International Telephone Calls

Payphones (公衆電話 kōshū denwa) are easily found, particularly near train stations, although with the popularity of mobile phones, public pay phones are not quite as numerous as they once were. Gray and green pay phones accept ¥10 and ¥100 coins and prepaid cards. Be aware that not all places with public telephones have phones that accept coins, so it may be worthwhile to buy a phone card for emergency use. Some of the gray phones, as indicated on the display, can make international calls. Pre-paid cards can be purchased at convenience stores, train station kiosk stores and sometimes in vending machines next to the phone.

Modern Japanese mobile phones (携帯電話 keitai denwa or just keitai) tend to operate on unique cellular standards not always compatible with the rest of the world. 3G phones using the UMTS/WCDMA2100 standard and equipped with a 3G SIM card will most likely work. If your phone is up to spec, double-check with your carrier if they have a roaming agreement with either SoftBank or NTT DoCoMo. Coverage is generally excellent, unless you are heading to some remote mountainous areas. If you have no 3G phone but still have a 3G-compatible SIM card, you can rent a 3G phone in Japan and slot in your card, allowing you to keep your home phone number in Japan. For a longer trip, you can also purchase a phone, but doing this legally requires an Alien Registration Card (or an obliging Japanese friend willing to front for you).

The easier way is to get a prepaid phone. Prepaid phones are sold in most SoftBank and AU stores. If you already have a 3G phone, go with Softbank as it can sell SIMs as opposed to au whose prepaid service is phone-based like most CDMA carriers. Prepaid phones use a "card" with a pass key to "charge" a phone with minutes. These prepaid calling cards, unlike the phone itself, can be found in most convenience stores. A prepaid cell phone is available for as little as ¥5000 plus ¥3000 for a 60-90 day call time package, which will get drained at a rate of ¥100 per minute (¥10 per 6 seconds for AU's prepaid service). Both SoftBank and AU offer prepaid phones.

Post

The Japanese postal service is excellent! Domestic and international mail service is very quick and reliable. The prices for sending letters, postcards and parcels vary depending on where you send if from and to which country you send it too, and of course depends on weight as well, so check this calculation page of Japan Post for more details. Post offices generally are open from 9:00am to 5:00pm on weekdays, closing at weekends and also on national holidays, though a few open on Saturdays from 9:00am to 3:00pm. Central post offices are sometimes open until 7:00pm, open on Saturdays from 9:00am to 5:00pm and on Sundays and holidays from 9:00am to 12:30pm. There are post offices in every major city and minor town. Another thing to remember is that the post office is one of the few places in Japan that is guaranteed to have ATMs that take international cards.

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Quick Facts

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Coordinates
  • Latitude: 33.5903547
  • Longitude: 130.4017155

Accommodation in Fukuoka

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This is version 15. Last edited at 14:16 on Aug 16, 17 by Utrecht. 27 articles link to this page.

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