Have you ever thought of traveling to Fukuoka?
I've only read about this southern city from travellers who've already done the usual Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto Japan tour. To Filipinos, Fukuoka is one of the alternative Japan destinations when you want to go back to the land of the rising sun, but without the inconvenience of connecting flights (since we have a direct, 4-hour flight from Manila to Fukuoka Airport via Cebu Pacific Air). I also know of Fukuoka for its Wisteria Tunnel (purple flowers) during April to May.
Since it is located in the south, Fukuoka is Japan's sunny side. It is the gateway of the Kyushu Island, its largest city, and was once a prosperous port town where foreign merchants come and go.
I highly recommend a Fukuoka trip for several things:
1) Airfare from Manila to Fukuoka Airport is usually lower compared to Narita or Haneda, since it is closer and also less in demand.
2) Fukuoka can also be your entry point to reach other cities like the historical Nagasaki, and for flowers and nature sightings there's the Uminonakamichi Seaside Park and Nokonoshima Island.
3) If you want to catch autumn or spring but too late to go to Tokyo, then Fukuoka might be your chance!
4) If you want to try hitting two birds with one stone, you can even travel to Busan of South Korea and then Fukuoka of Japan in one trip via ferry! Fukuoka is nearer Seoul than Tokyo.
5) This city is also the home of hakata or tonkotsu ramen, and popular ramen chains Ichiran and Ippudo are both from Fukuoka! I'm a fan of this Ichiran so this is a big deal for me, hehehe! They say that Ichiran also tastes different, more milky in Fukuoka.
Here are some of the things you can do when in Fukuoka:
1) Eat hakata ramen at the Ramen Stadium or original Ichiran
2) Watch the fountain light show at Canal City Hakata. Aside from the play of lights and water, the background building also served as a huge screen projecting anime show Evangelion. Super cool!
3) Visit Maizuru Park and Fukuoka Castle (ruins)
4) Relax and stroll around Ohori Park
5) Shop around Tenjin, the central area of downtown Fukuoka. They have my Japan favorites Don Quijote, GU, and BIC Camera.
6) Eat street foods at a yatai food stall.
7) Have lunch and enjoy a walk around Mamedamachi, Fukuoka's "Kyoto" or Historic Preservation District
8) Persimmon Picking at Migita fruit farm
Where to stay in Fukuoka
We stayed at the Nishitetsu Hotel Croom in Hakata, walking distance to Hakata Station, and a bit walkable to the Canal City Hakata. Plus points, each room has a massage chair!
Manila to Fukuoka
Cebu Pacific flies direct to Fukuoka 3x a week, every Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday. One-way travel time is around 3 hours and 55 minutes, so make sure to download enough videos to keep yourself entertained. Visit https://www.cebupacificair.com to book your flights, and follow @cebupacificair on Instagram and Facebook to get seat sale updates.
How To Go Around Fukuoka
From Fukuoka Airport, Hakata and Tenjin Stations are just around 15 minutes by taxi for 1200 to 1800 Yen. You can also take the train option, but you have to go to the domestic terminal for the subway (they have free airport shuttles from International to Domestic terminal). You can also go around Fukuoka conveniently by using their subway.
Final Fukuoka Travel Tips
1) Fukuoka has different temperature from Tokyo, make sure to check Accuweather app and browse through Fukuoka Instagram geolocation to know what to pack.
2) Always have an portable internet router so you will have no problem exploring the city on your own.
3) You can also join group tours to maximize your time, and get insider tips from your local guide. Here’s the link if you want to join the same tour group that we did: https://inbound.japan-tour.jp/en/, our tour guide’s name is Miki Ishida.
4) You can easily withdraw Yen from your Visa/Mastercard, and most shops, restos, and kombinis accept credit cards except for markets and street food stalls.
5) They use the same 2 flat pins electrical outlet, so that's one less thing to worry about.
I can see myself heading back to Fukuoka for the wisteria and the main Ichiran resto. I think 3 days max is enough to explore this city's highlights, but the fun in traveling on this side of Japan is hopping to nearby destinations. For our autumn trip, we also had one night in Nagasaki. Will blog about that stop next!
Special thanks to Erika Garcia, Aileen Dela Rosa, Ms. Len Borja, Michelle Lim, Miki-san and Ishibashi San of Cebu Pacific Air, Stratworks Communication, and Fukuoka Tourism for taking care of us! And to my fellow content creators for making this a very memorable trip. It's nice to be surrounded by people who are very passionate about travelling and documenting their adventures like you guys, nakakainspire! ❤