Fukuoka has some 1.5 million inhabitants and a rich and complex history. It is a popular tourist destination for the Japanese, who enjoy its pleasant weather, architecture, shopping opportunities, and – first and foremost – the delicious food.
Fukuoka is known as the mecca of Japanese street cuisine. Yatai food stalls are dotted around the city centre and particularly numerous in the southern tip of Nakasu island. The stalls usually open around 6 pm and stay open until late at night.
One yatai can seat about 7 to 8 people who get to enjoy simple but tasty delicacies. Some of the most popular choices are yakitori chicken skewers, oden hot pot stew, and tonkotsu, ramen noodles in a pork bone broth.
Cycling in the park
While you tour the city, the huge Uminonakamichi Park is a good place to have a break. The best way to explore the area is to hire a bicycle or jump on the train going through the park.
The park is renowned for its beautiful flowers and attractions ranging from a zoo to a theme park, and the vast, well-tended lawns invite you to stop for a picnic lunch. Marine World aquarium is a famous tourist destination close by.
You can find another popular recreation ground, Ohori Park, in the city centre.
One of Fukuoka's most interesting events is the Hakata Gion Yamakasa festival during the first two weeks of July, culminating in a competition on 15 July.
The competitors are seven teams from city districts who cross the city with parade floats decked with the most imaginative decorations.
Under the shade of a 1000-year-old tree
Beautiful temples are, of course, what every Japanese city can boast. Shofukuji is Japan's first Zen temple, established in 1195. You cannot go into the temple, which is surrounded by a park, but seeing it from the outside is a memorable experience too.
Built in 757, the Kushida shrine is shielded by a thousand-year-old gingko tree. The Sumiyoshi shrine is likewise surrounded by a charming park area.
Finnair will begin direct flights from Helsinki Airport to Fukuoka three times a week from 7 May 2016. The duration of the flight is 9.5 hours. Fukuoka's airport lies some 10 km from the city.