Fascinating history. Incredible eats. Natural beauty. If the Japanese seaside city of Fukuoka isn’t already on your radar, it’s time to recalibrate your Japan travel plans.
Capital of the prefecture of the same name and one of several host cities for the 2019 Rugby World Cup, Fukuoka is the gateway to the island of Kyushu.
It’s the perfect destination for those looking to go beyond the well-trodden destinations like Osaka, Tokyo and Kyoto and see a new corner of Japan.
Highlights of this city and its surrounding area include the ruins of the 17th-century Fukuoka Castle, the beautiful Kyushu National Museum and Dazaifu Tenmangu, a Shinto shrine that’s home to over 6,000 plum trees that blossom in stunning fashion each spring.
And while we’re on the subject of blooms, another famed destination is the tunnel of wisterias at Kawachi Fuji-en Garden in Kitakyushu, about an hour’s drive from the city. Another worthy day trip is Yanagawa, an hour outside of the Fukuoka, famed for its picturesque canals.
But we’ve saved the best for last: The food.
Due to its seaside position on Japan’s east coast, Fukuoka is a seafood lover’s dream destination and considered one of Japan’s top foodie cities. Just head for the Nagahama Fish Market. The commercial market floor only opens to the public once a month but you can still visit its restaurants, which are open seven days a week.
We do recommend saving space for a bowl of Hakata ramen though. A local specialty, it’s the original tonkotsu ramen and prized for its deliciously fatty pork broth. Try it at Ichiran, a restaurant chain found throughout Japan that originated in Hakata, Fukuoka.
Don’t miss: The impressive Fukuoka Art Museum is reopening in March 2019 following extensive renovations that kicked off back in 2016. It offers a wide range of works from celebrated Japanese and global artists including Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Marc Chagall.