Most of Fukuoka’s metropolitan area is accessible via the Nishitetsu Bus, which will take you to major areas such as Hakata and Tenjin, as well as outlet mall Marinoa City Fukuoka, and Fukuoka Yahuoku! Dome (below), where concerts take place. Just pay your fare with a prepaid Nimoca card, which can be purchased at train stations. To travel within large districts, hop onto the 100 yen loop bus; you’ll be charged just 100 yen for your ride, regardless of the distance.
In the summer, don’t miss the festival of Hakata Gion Yamakasa (July 1 to 15). The highlight is a race between seven teams of men pushing yamakasa (decorated floats) along a 5km route through the city that begins before sunrise on July 15. Water is splashed onto participants to cool them down. In the days leading up to the race, parades and practice runs are held throughout the various districts, while the floats are displayed.
Shrine of the times
Built over the grave of prominent government official and scholar Sugawara Michizane (845-903), who is worshipped as the deity of literature or calligraphy, Dazaifu Tenmangu is one of Japan’s most important Shinto shrines. Within its grounds, you’ll find a museum with art collections, a tranquil pond with a bridge arched over it, and about 6,000 plum trees of 197 varieties. Visit between mid-February and early March to see them in bloom.
Fukuoka’s yatai (open-air food stands) are iconic, and there more than 150 stalls scattered across the city. For an atmospheric experience, head to Nakasu Island in the middle of the city to dine at yatai set up on the banks of Nakagawa river. Don’t miss the Hakata ramen (below) that is named after Hakata. It comes with a creamy pork broth and just green onions and char siu. Other toppings, like boiled eggs, are extra.
Scoot off for a relaxing retreat by taking a roughly 10 minute-long ferry ride from Meinohama Ferry Terminal to Nokonoshima (below), an island known for its seasonal displays of colourful blooms such as sunflowers, hydrangeas and Japanese camellias. You can also enjoy unblocked views of the sea here. For more sea-side enjoyment, head to the coastal city of Itoshima, and revel in the wide, yawning bay and brilliant turquoise waters.
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PHOTOS: GETTY IMAGES, 123RF.COM, FUKUOKA PREFECTURAL GOVERNMENT JAPAN TOURISM PROMOTION DIVISION
This article was originally published by Singapore Press Holdings.