Delightfully laid back and warm-tempered Fukuoka has been an important harbor and capital city of the Fukuoka Prefecture in Japan. Unlike Kyoto or Tokyo, towns like Fukuoka offer an unhurried approach to exploring Japan. While stopped on your Fukuoka cruise, you’ll find it’s a foodie town and a shopping haven without compromising local flavor and culture.
In fact, 1.5 million people live in Fukuoka, and it’s Japan’s sixth-biggest city, but it simply doesn’t feel that big. While you’re here on an Asia cruise, there are plenty of beaches, history and art museums, and ancient ruins to occupy you. The food of the region is a critically important part of the culture. Eat your way through the city and try its regional delicacies while stopping at sights like the Fukuoka Castle Ruins or the observation tower of the Fukuoka Tower along the way.
A jaunt to the island of Shikanoshima will take you about a half hour via ferry. The island hosts a variety of workshops at the Sugon Ji temple, including everything from meditation to the art of matcha. You can rent bikes to ride around the island leisurely. Be sure to check out the Shinto shrine, which has long held significance and importance for locals.
This folk museum is one of the most fascinating historic sites in all of Fukuoka. Here, you’ll get a glimpse at Hakata artifacts and culture, from crafts created hundreds of years ago to recordings of the Hakata regional dialect. Everything pays homage to the area’s past. It’s a must-experience museum for Japanese history buffs.
Another renowned museum in the area is the Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, where a wealth of contemporary art is housed. There are nearly 3,000 pieces for you to enjoy here. Leave an afternoon to soak up the beauty of traditional and modern Asian art in the heart of Fukuoka.
What is a trip to Japan without photographing a panoramic cityscape? After all, Japan’s modern and sleek architectural influences are evident, even in smaller cities. At the observation deck of Fukuoka Tower, you’ll stand over 750 feet above ground, towering over the rest of the city. Fukuoka Tower is known as the “tallest seaside tower” in Japan, so you’ll enjoy gorgeous views of both the city and the outstretched waters of Hakata Bay.
Don’t miss the city’s most enduring site, the Fukuoka Castle Ruins, on your cruise to Fukuoka. Walk through the ruins of this once-impressive castle built during Japan’s Edo period and marvel at hundreds of years of history. During March and April, cherry blossoms unfurl beautifully, making it a popular spot for photo shoots, picnics, and family fun.
Take a stroll through this picturesque city park if you want to steal a few moments in nature. You’ll feel like a local as you walk or cycle along the pond, or enjoy the tranquility of the garden here.
Fukuoka is known for regional delicacies that you must try during your cruise to Fukuoka, like tonkotsu ramen, motsunabe, and mizutaki. Tonkotsu ramen, also known as Hakata ramen, which is best known for the consistency of the noodles, are boiled for just 10 seconds. Then there’s motsunabe, a soup of beef, pork, cabbage, and leeks with miso which makes a comforting and nutrient-dense lunch. Or try the mizutaki, a hotpot of meat and vegetables that locals find especially warming in the winter. The food scene in Fukuoka is casual with lots of food stands and food trucks, where the flavor of the food is more important than the presentation.
The Fukuoka region has a storied past that includes tales of Mongol invasions by Kublai Khan and other attacks affecting the city. Over the centuries, Fukuoka became important as a center for trade and fishing with other parts of Japan and other countries in Asia. Today, you might hear Fukuoka referred to as “Hakata” by locals because the town of Fukuoka was created in 1889 when the towns of Naka-gawa and Fukuoka merged.
Though Fukuoka has long been used as a stopover when traveling to Korea, even 10 years ago, it was rare for international travelers to pass through. However, the rise of cruise traffic to the area is slowly opening Fukuoka to the rest of the world. An annual festival, the Hakata Dontaku Festival, celebrates the history and culture of the city.
Your Fukuoka cruise ship may dock in one of two terminals: the Chuo Wharf or the Hakozaki Wharf. The port of Hakata has grown considerably in recent years to accommodate cruise traffic and hosts hundreds of cruise ships each year as Fukuoka grows in population and international renown. There is also free wifi available in the cruise terminal.
Taxis are common at the cruise gate and are ready to take passengers into the center of Fukuoka. When taking a taxi, it’s helpful to show the driver a map or write down the name of your destination if you speak little to no Japanese. Buses are also a popular mode of transportation during your day in Fukuoka, and there are three subway lines. Both the buses and the subway system offer a one-day pass. Tourist city passes are popular for travelers, which provide discounted admission to attractions in Fukuoka as well as cover your train and bus fare during your trip.
There is a lot of shopping in this part of Japan, and you’ll find everything from small boutiques to big-name department stores in different shopping districts. The Daimyō district is the place to find local Japanese designer fashions, while the Watanabe-dōri is best for department store bargain hunting. Don’t leave town without checking out the regional art of weaving called Hakata-ori, which is one of Japan’s distinctive styles of textiles.
Japanese currency is the yen, and it’s handy to have change and coins with you to grab a taxi or take a bus. There are ATMs widely available, too, but many banks in Japan will only accept Japanese bank-issued cards. Mastercard and Visa are commonly accepted in many parts of Japan as well. Tipping at a restaurant is often refused, and it is not necessary to tip your taxi driver in most cases. Japanese culture is incredibly polite and thankful, so be sure to verbally thank your taxi driver or service worker.