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Fukuoka (Hakata), Japan

Fukuoka consists of two cities in one, Fukuoka and Hakata. These two cities are officially joined, forming one of Japan's largest cities. Surrounded by mountains on three sides, Fukuoka is located on Hakata Bay on the northern side of Kyushu Island, Japan's southernmost island. The location of Fukuoka gave rise to its importance in trade and as a gateway to China. It also left it at risk of wars and invasions, including by the Mongols in 1274.


Historically, Fukuoka was two separate towns divided by the Naka River–Hakata was the eastern port town that became critical to trade with China in the Middle Ages. Fukuoka to the west was a castle town under the dominance of the samurai. The two towns merged in the late 1880s. While Fukuoka is the official name, Hakata remains a famous name and is also the port area. Fukuoka is compact with parks dotting the city. In 2014, Monocle Magazine ranked Fukuoka the 10th most livable city in the world. Fukuoka has something for everyone from temples to the beach and from landscaped parks to museums of art and history. A visit here is not complete without enjoying a bowl of delicious ramen.


Ship Location

Most cruise ships dock at the Fukuoka cruise ship terminal (Hakata) at Bayside Place.  There are two cruise ship terminals, either Fukuoka Chuo Wharf (about 2 1/2 miles from downtown) or Fukuoka Hakozaki Wharf (the larger of the two and more cargo focused, about 3 miles from downtown).


Getting Around

Ship dock a few miles from the city's center. From the ship, the port provides a complimentary shuttle downtown. Taxis are also available. Be aware that the taxi driver opens and closes the left rear door remotely. The Fukuoka Open Top Bus offers open-air double-decker guided bus tours of the city. Tourists can purchase the Fukuoka Tourist City Pass, an unlimited pass for rides on trains and buses in the city.



Shrines, parks, and castles are popular tourist sites in Fukuoka. Under the shade of a reportedly 1,000-year-old ginkgo tree, Kushida Shrine, dating from 758 CE, is dedicated to merchants seeking prosperity and good health. It also is the focal point for a two-week 770-year-old festival complete with floats called Hakata Gion Yamakasa, celebrated each July. The Hakata Historical Museum operates on the temple's grounds. The Tochoji Temple, built by the famous Buddhist priest Kukai, dates back to 800 CE after his training in China. Here visitors can see a five-story-tall red pagoda and a giant wooden Buddha as well as Shofukuji, Japan's oldest Zen Buddhist temple. The grounds here are considered lovely. In Ohori Park, the city's largest, enjoy thousands of azaleas and the peace of the pond that once was part of Fukuoka Castle's moat. Explore the ruins of the castle in nearby Maizuru Park.



Ship excursions exist to Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine, on the south side of Fukuoka. The temple, dating back to 900 CE, is dedicated to Sugawara no Michizane, a ninth-century scholar honored with thousands of shrines across the country. Springtime visitors enjoy seeing the 6,000+ plum trees bloom on the temple grounds. Another tour option is to visit Kokura Castle, dating from 1602 CE, where you may contemplate the Yasaka shrine as you sip Japanese tea in the small but beautiful garden.


Museums offer a glimpse into the area's history and culture. The Hakata Machiya Folk Museum offers cultural exhibits and a chance for visitors to try a hand at traditional Japanese arts, such as calligraphy and origami. The Fukuoka Asian Art Museum is dedicated to contemporary and modern Asian art. For a deeper look at the area's history, the Kyushu National Museum in nearby Dazaifu provides insight into the area's prehistoric past and the critical trading history between Japan, China, and Korea.


Shop in Tenjin, the city's shopping area, or Canal City, Hakata, one of the largest shopping complexes in Japan. The 760-foot-tall Fukuoka Tower, adorned with thousands of mirrored panels, offers an observation deck with panoramic views of the city. Nearby, take a stroll at Momochi Seaside Park.


The Bayside Place Hakata Pier is the site of the main ferry terminal. A little over a mile from Chuo Wharf, it offers shops, restaurants, an aquarium with more than 1,000 fish, and a nightly laser light show. Most ships stay late, so the possibility of seeing the show is likely for most cruise passengers.


Souvenirs from Fukuoka include the iconic Hakata (or ningyo), traditional unglazed porcelain dolls made from locally sourced clay, whose origins date back 400 years.


Trying local dishes is something travelers enjoy, so make sure to sample Fukuoka's most famous dish, Hakata tonkotsu ramen, a white soup of pork bone broth and thin noodles, or various seafood delights. In the evenings, visitors can explore the street food stalls called "yatai." Fukuoka has been named one of the top ten food stall cities in Asia.
Fukuoka offers the visitor the chance to come away with a greater knowledge of and appreciation for the region's rich history and culture.


Staying in Touch

Free Wi-Fi is available at the port. In addition, Fukuoka City offers a free public Wi-Fi service called "Fukuoka City Wi-Fi."