Spending Four Days in Fukuoka, Japan
Since my husband was in America for business, I decided to take a trip too and finally go back to my “hometown” of Fukuoka after over 7 years. I had been an exchange student there during the summer of 2009 and was lucky enough to visit again for a long weekend in 2012.
This trip is long overdo and I was thankful that my family was able to make time to see me once again :) Here’s a look at some of the things I got up to!
I arrived around 11am and headed from the airport straight to Hakata station to reserve my train ticket to Yufuin. The Fukuoka airport is right in the center of the city so getting to the station took maybe 15 minutes total. Fun fact - that’s also why there aren’t many tall buildings in Fukuoka! The city has limits because of the planes.
I wasn’t able to check into my AirBnb for another hour or so, so I stopped in a cafe next to my apartment to kill time (the clouds were threatening rain at any moment!) I went to NO Coffee where I had a delicious green tea latte with an espresso shot. The staff was really nice and helped me set my luggage aside in the small cafe.
After checking in and taking a quick break to wash the airplane off of me, I took the bus over to Ohori Park and it started pouring the second I arrived. I walked all the way around the lake and saw ducklings, a heron, and plenty of people running regardless of the downpour.
At this point I was starving so I got on another bus to the Daimyo area to stop at Tempura Hirao, a famous tempura place that is absolutely incredible. You have to order from a vending machine but there are lots of pictures and the staff is really helpful. I got the okonomi set which had 3 kinds of fish and 4 kinds of vegetables. They bring the tempura out one by one so that you don’t have any cold or soggy tempura - it’s always still boiling!
Plus they have pumpkin as a side dish that you can help yourself to!
I was tired from my early flight and it started pouring again so I got myself ice cream at the 7/11 and headed home :)
I then headed over to meet my old translator and mentor in the Tenjin area. We got tempura again (it was my favorite when I was studying abroad there and she remembered well hehe) and we wandered around aimlessly for a bit. We stopped in the Fukuoka Red Brick Culture Building and ended up getting a private tour from the docents there. They are turning the old building into a space for engineers to come work for free and hold events!
After my friend went home, I did a bit of thrift shopping in the area at places like Super Spinns and Grapefruit Moon. Most of the places were quite overpriced but I managed to find a pair of earrings and a sweatshirt I liked :) On the way home I got the best soft serve I’ve had in a long time from Daimyo Soft Cream (really regret not going back for the cappuccino flavor, but the green tea/vanilla mix was excellent!)
I took a much needed nap and then headed back out as the sun set to visit the Kushida Shrine. The small shrine was completely empty and it was so peaceful to take in at this hour. From there I walked over to the Kawabata Shopping Arcade but everything was closing up by the time I got there around 8pm.
I made one last stop before the sky opened up again and left my pants soaking wet: Don Quixote. Don Quixote is sort of like a catch-all store where you can buy cheap toys but also designer bags but also cup ramen but also high quality cameras. It’s a maze and a mess but it’s great for cheap souvenirs. I stocked up on Jasmine tea bags :)
I got to spend most of my last full day in Fukuoka with my host sister! I had been lucky enough to see her a few years ago when she was in Busan but we hadn’t been together in Japan for over 7 years. We went out to Dazaifu, a town dedicated to a collection of temples and shrines that has some great street food and a lot of stunning architecture to take in. Unfortunately the zen garden and temple that is my absolute favorite was closed. It is called Komyozen-ji and I hope that it’s open if you ever visit - don’t miss it!
Luckily though the other areas were open such as the Taiko Bridge and Dazaifu’s Tenman-gu. Just before crossing the Taiko Bridge, there is a cow statue that people will likely be crowding around. If you’re needed a little good luck with school, be sure to give the cow a rub!
Stop in any of the tea shops for a snack and some street food and don’t miss the Starbucks that was designed by Kengo Kuma!
We came back to Fukuoka and checked out the Kushida Shrine in the day time and wandered around until my sister had to go off to a work meeting.
I only had about an hour left before sunset so I walked over to the Rakusuien garden. It was very small but really pretty and tucked away in the center of the city. It was $1 entry and I had the place to myself!
After sunset I walked down the river to the famous Fukuoka yatai (food stalls.) Serving everything from classic Japanese drinking food to a full sushi bar to steak, the atmosphere was really friendly and a little chaotic. As I neared Canal City Mall, there was a musical performance going on and lots of food trucks. The locals who seemed to have just gotten off work were all lining the riverbank having a beer or two :)
I’m not super enthusiastic about malls so I just popped in and out of Canal City but the water show was pretty at least.
On my last day I had just enough time to pop over to Stereo Coffee for a burst of caffeine before heading to the airport. The staff were really nice but there weren’t any seats on the first floor. Lots of standing room though!
I went back to my AirBnb, took the bus to Hakata Station, grabbed some bread from the bakery and got on the airport line. It took a whopping 5 minutes to reach the airport where I had to get on the free shuttle bus to the international terminal.
And then I was home! Our flight had a slight delay but it allowed us to see the perfect sunset :)