Fukuoka

Fukuoka (福岡) is the capital of Fukuoka prefecture and the largest city on the island of Kyushu.

Understand

Hakata Port in Fukuoka, as seen from a landing airplane
Watanabe-dori, in the Tenjin area of Fukuoka.

Fukuoka is a modern city, divided historically by the central river into two separate cities, Hakata (博多) and Fukuoka (福岡). The main railway station and port are still known as Hakata Station and Hakata Port. There are city centers in both Hakata and Tenjin.

There is a Tourist Information Center in Tenjin with English speakers available under the Nishitetsu Fukuoka station. For information in English, visit the Rainbow Plaza, located on the 8th floor of the Inter Media Station (IMS) building. The IMS is accessible by subway and is just a three minute walk from the Tenjin station. In the middle of Hakata JR train station there is a Tourist Information Center (sometimes with English speakers) with brochures in English, Japanese and other languages. They can help with transport information and bookings. On the third floor of the ACROS building, near Nakasu, you can find more information in English.

The surrounding cities and towns make up the prefecture of Fukuoka.

Fukuoka is a good starting point for first-time visitors to Japan. Being a sizable, modern city it's still not hard to get around. A subway connects most of the city's main attractions, providing transportation between Hakata, Tenjin, Fukuoka International Airport, Meinohama, and Nishijin (where you can find Fukuoka Tower and the baseball ground of the Softbank Hawks: Fukuoka Yahoo Dome). The main station in Hakata marks the terminus of the Sanyo Shinkansen bullet train. The Kyushu Shinkansen line also terminates here, and links the Sanyo Shinkansen directly with Kagoshima, at the southern tip of Kyushu.

Get in

By plane

Fukuoka Airport (IATA: FUK) is to the east of the city, surprisingly close to the city centre (the domestic terminal is only 2 subway stops away from the Hakata JR station - there is a ~10 min. free bus connecting the intl. terminal to domestic). Within the country, Japan Airlines and ANA fly to Fukuoka from most larger cities, including Tokyo (both Haneda and Narita), Osaka (Itami and Kansai), and Nagoya (Komaki and Centrair Airport). There are scheduled flights to most major cities in China and South Korea, as well as Taipei, Hong Kong, Singapore, Bangkok, Manila, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, but the only scheduled transpacific flights are to Honolulu and Guam.

The airport is split into 4 terminals.

T1 and T2 are essentially different parts of the same building, 5 min apart on foot. The subway station is located under Terminal 2.

From Tokyo, flying to Fukuoka is much faster than the Shinkansen, and not significantly more expensive. The usual one-way fare on Skymark Airlines from Tokyo Haneda is ¥19,800, compared to ¥22,320 from Tokyo Station on the Nozomi Shinkansen, and steep discounts are available if you book in advance (as low as ¥5,300 with Skymark's "SKY Bargain" discount). The flight takes 2 hr while the train takes five. If you have a Japan Rail Pass (JR Pass), of course, you'll still want to take the train, though you can't take the fastest of the Shinkansen ("Nozomi") with the JR Pass.

By train

JR Hakata City, part of the Hakata station complex

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 (1 3/4 hrs) and Osaka (2 hr 30 min), and through via the Tokaido Shinkansen from Kyoto (2 hr 45 min by Nozomi), Nagoya (3 hr 30 min 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.

Overnight by train with rest stop

If you hold a Japan Rail Pass, and you wish to travel overnight from Tokyo (or any other distant city), you may want to split up your journey, stopping at an intermediate destination en route in order to sleep somewhere. The cost incurred will only be for the hotel room; the Rail Pass covers your transportation. This is a good way to travel overnight, especially if you are able to find cheap accommodations, such as a business hotel. Yes, it may be a little hectic, and it might require some research, but this method carries two significant advantages: location and money. You will more than likely find good accommodations very close to a main train station in a smaller city, compared to a big city such as Tokyo, and it will more than likely be cheaper than hotels found in big cities. You could use the money you save to forward some of your luggage to Fukuoka using a luggage delivery service and take an overnight bag with you, which will make the journey easier.

As of March 2012, here is one way you could go about this from Tokyo: at 19:00, leave for Himeji by taking the Hikari train and changing to a Kodama service at Shin-Osaka station. Once in Himeji (arriving around 23:00) you can take a rest at Himeji's Toyoko Inn which costs as low as ¥5230 for a single room or ¥2990 double occupancy. At 06:54 the next morning, board the first bullet train of the day, a Sakura service, and you will be in Fukuoka by 09:15. This trip takes longer than taking the overnight train and bullet train connection as described above, but it is cheaper; you only have to pay for the hotel room, complete with your own toilet and shower.

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 9 hr 30 min (¥10,000 one way); The Kyoto overnight bus runs from Kyoto to Fukuoka, also in 9 hr 30 min (¥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

JR Kyushu's Jet Ferry the Beetle hydrofoils to Busan (South Korea). It runs five times a day and takes just under 3 hr for ¥13,000 (¥24,000 round trip discount fare; ¥20,000 round trip on weekdays). They are quick, but in 2005 one hit a whale and had to be towed back to Busan. Since then, the JR Kyushu Jet Ferry Inc. plays sounds that whales dislike using speakers to avoid further accidents. An economy-class ticket on the Meimon Taiyo Ferry from Osaka to Kita Kyushu costs ¥6,000 (20% discount if booked online); tickets in other price ranges are available.

Three times a week Kyuetsu Ferry Co runs a service to Naoetsu in Niigata and then on to Muroran in Hokkaido.

Get around

Bullet train on the cheap

Want to try out the bullet train, but put off by those high fares? Ride the Hakata Minami Line (博多南線) from Hakata Station. Originally built to connect to the train depot, the 8.5 km, 10 min ride uses Shinkansen equipment (¥290.)

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 min, ¥250), as well as 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) et 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 (6AM-11PM) underground parking areas, which are free for the first 3 hr. 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.

See

Momochi Beach

Do

Yamakasa participants carry one of the participating floats


For a good listing of what's happening and places to eat and drink, the local monthly English language Fukuoka Now magazine is a great start.

  • Drive to Maebaru IC, head in the Shima(志摩) direction along Kendo 12. Go straight at the intersection in front of Shima town office and turn left at Nogita intersection in front of 7-Eleven. 50 min from Tenjin. To get to Futamigaura, take a SHOWA bus for Tani from JR Chikuzen Maebaru (so first take a subway to Chikuzen Maebaru if you are in Tenjin or Hakata). Get off the bus at Imuta (around 30 min). About a 15 min walk to the beach.

Itineraries

Hakata
Tenjin
Shopping

Learn

There are several schools for studying Japanese in Fukuoka.

Buy

Canal City

Tenjin (天神) is Fukuoka's largest shopping district. You can find here, designer stores housed in towering retail blocks such as Tenjin Core, IMS, Vivre to the east, and Solaria Plaza Vioro to the west. There are also several large department stores, Iwataya, Daimaru and Mitsukoshi (all with food available.) Also, there are boutique areas, including Tenjin Chikagai, housed in a pleasant underground area adjacent to the Tenjin subway station and under Watanabe street. Nishi-Dori and Oyafuko-Dori (actually the same street, separated by Showa-Dori) contains a multitude of stores and restaurants, both mainstream and independent.

The Shotengai or shopping arcades are also good places to shop. In Tenjin, to the west of Solaria Stage you can find a shotengai with great deals and a used kimono store. Near Nakasu, across from Eeny Meeny Miny Mo (a large mall), you can find the Nakasu-Kawabata shopping arcade. Here you can find traditional paper goods, Noren curtains and inexpensive bakeries.

Over the past few years, the main shopping, eating and drinking area has been moving away from north Tenjin and the Oyafuko-dori street south towards Daimyo, Kego and Imaizumi. With a different feel to the commercial district of Tenjin, just to the west (past Nishi-dori) is Daimyo, an area filled with small, mostly independent shops, bars and restaurants. Plan on staying all day; for daytime shopping and eating dinner. On Sundays, this area is full of young people out shopping. For a similar feeling area, check out Kego and Imaizumi, two upcoming areas to the south.

A uniquely designed mall called Canal City, which houses clothing stores, restaurants, rare character shops - including a Studio Ghibli goods shop - and even a well-appointed theatre, is located midway between Tenjin and Hakata, next to the Nakasu entertainment district. If you have time, be sure to catch one of the hourly fountain shows held in the centre of the bowl-shaped complex.

Another large shopping area is the recently renovated Hakata Station area, called Hakata City. It includes over 230 shops, restaurant floor, and roof observation deck. With regards to gift-giving, if you're pressed for time, take a quick look around the craft and boutique stores in Hakata Station before leaving. Many carry the white clay Hakata dolls that are unique to Fukuoka. Prices range from under ¥1,000 and up. Prices comparable to those found in Tenjin.

In case you are into cameras, computers or other electronics, you can find a huge Yodobashi Camera store right outside of Hakata station. Go out to the eastern side of the JR station (Chikushi Gate), go down 2 blocks and it will be on your right.

The latest large shopping area to open is Kanoha Mall Hashimoto, at the Hashimoto Station which ends the Nanakuma subway line. While perhaps not worth a special trip all the way there, it's worth a look if you happen to be anywhere near the area.

Don't miss out on the ¥100 shop. A great place to shop for souvenirs (although many items are made in China), dishes, toys and everything else you didn't think you needed. There is one located in the bus centre building next to Hakata Station. Another is in Daiei, in Tenjin behind the MINA building.

Eat

Tonkotsu ramen

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 (another oddity you won't see available elsewhere).

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, incidentally.)

Lunch time is probably the best value for the money. Most restaurants will do lunch sets at 1/2 or 1/3 the price of their dinner sets, but serve the same course. If you have a bit more cash to spend and want to have a nice Japanese style lunch, the Grand Hyatt at Canal City and the Excel Hotel near Nakasu are both good. Most of the larger, nicer hotels in the area will serve beautiful lunch sets. Many restaurants and cafes in the area will have lunch sets under ¥1,000.

Drink

Yatai
Yatai at night

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 yen 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?

Note that 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 extremely unadventurous 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.

The Happy hour concept is just beginning to make its way into the bars in the area, so you can now find places that do cheap drinks. Thursday night is also a good time to avoid weekend crowds, find the local ex-pat population and get some good deals on drinks.

Sleep

The Luigans Spa & Resort

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.

Budget

Mid-range

Splurge

Hilton Fukuoka Seahawk

Cope

Consulates

Go next

JR train tickets (set of 2 or 4) for one day travel on Limited Express trains are cheaper than individual tickets. The Bullet Train has cheap rates to Kitakyushu on the weekend (¥3.000 return.)

Routes through Fukuoka

Sanyo Shinkansen through service  N  S  Shin-Tosu Kagoshima
Hiroshima Kokura  N  S  through service Kyushu Shinkansen
Kitakyushu  N  S  Chikushino Kumamoto
Kitakyushu  N  S  Chikushino Kumamoto


This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Saturday, March 19, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.