The lively gateway to Kyushu and beyond
Fukuoka prefecture isn't just about partying - but it's a good place to start.
Perched at the northern edge of Kyushu, Fukuoka prefecture provides the main access point for visitors coming and going from the island and beyond. Fukuoka International airport is one of Japan’s busiest, while ferries bound for nearby Korea leave from the International Hakata Port, which also plays an important role in regional trade within the Asia-Pacific.
It’s worth stopping a while if you can; if not to experience Fukuoka city’s famed entertainment districts, you also shouldn’t leave without trying one of the best bowls of noodles around in the form of Hakata ramen.
A good day trip from Fukuoka city is Dazaifu. Historically Dazaifu was the administrative center of Kyushu and has a number of significant temples and shrines, including the head Tenmangu Shrine dedicated to the deified poet and scholar Sugawara Michizane. The temple draws crowds of students coming to pray for academic success and is a gorgeous place to see spring ume or plum blossom. The nearby Kyushu National Museum is housed in a spectacular modern building that contrasts with its historic surroundings – it’s Japan’s newest national museum, and one of its most interesting.
Kawachi Fujien in the industrial city of Kitakyushu is also becoming increasingly popular for its much-photographed wisteria tunnels that reach full bloom during the national Golden Week holiday in May. Tickets need to be booked in advance. If you miss out, you can also see wisteria blooms at Ashikaga Flower Park in Tochigi prefecture.