Fukuoka; a young, modern and environmentally friendly city
The city of Fukuoka is located in southern Japan, at the northern tip of Kyushu Island. It is known in Japan as the birthplace of Japanese civilization and the eighth largest city.
Fukuoka is a coastal city characterized by its green spaces and one of the youngest average age cities in the country. It is relatively close to South Korea, specifically the coastal city of Busan.
The average temperature of Fukuoka is 17 °C. In summer temperatures can reach 30 °C and in winter it is difficult to fall below 0 °C. For all these reasons, it is considered one of the most livable cities in Japan and even in all of Asia.
How to go from Hiroshima to Fukuoka?
By Bullet Train
Hiroshima to Fukuoka is 282 km away. If you travel to Japan with the JR Pass you can move through most of Japan with the high speed line Shinkansen. Specifically, the Sanyo Shinkansen line is the one that connects the city of Osaka with Fukuoka, passing through Kobe, Okayama and Hiroshima among other cities.
This line built in 1975 is the second oldest Shinkansen line in Japan and currently has 5 trains covering this route: Hikari, Kodama, Sakura, Nozomi and Mizuho (the latter two are not included in the JR Pass).
The journey from Hiroshima to Fukuoka with the Sanyo Shinkansen bullet train takes only an hour to arrive. If you don’t have a JR Pass, the ticket can cost between 50 and 70 euros depending on which train you take. A train leaves every 20 minutes.
The bus journey takes 4h 30min and costs 32 euros. It is taken from Hiroshima Central Station and dropped off at Fukuoka Downtown, Hakata Station.
Where to stay in Fukuoka?
The present Fukuoka is a union of the ancient city of Hakata and the ancient city of Fukuoka that were separated by the river that crosses the entire city until in 1889 united into one. Therefore, in Fukuoka there are two areas that are considered the center of the city: one in Hakata and another in Tenjin.
The Hakata area is characterized by being an area of street stalls where you can eat ramen from 6 p.m. to midnight. These small food stalls where only 6-8 people usually fit are given the name of yatai. In addition, this neighborhood is also home to the train station and a huge, modern shopping center called Canal City Hakata.
The Tenjin area, on the other hand, is an area of large shopping and business centres. However, we can also enjoy a few beautiful sanctuaries and the Acros building, the most famous building in Fukuoka. Near Tenjin are two very popular neighborhoods: Daimyo, the hipster neighborhood, and Oyafuko Dori, the area of bars and discos.
If you are travelling alone or with friends and you are looking for a hostel with a good price but which is also in the center, clean and modern, you can stay at Hatago Tenjin. For 16 euros a night, it is an ideal place to spend a few days during your stay in Fukuoka.
What to see and what to do in Fukuoka?
The Acros Building (Asian Crossroad Over the Sea) is less than 1km from Tenjin Station. Inaugurated in 1995 after 3 years of construction, it was one of the first green buildings ever built. The front of the building is filled with terraces covered with thick vegetation that descend to join in harmony with the park in front of the building.
Ruins of Fukuoka Castle
Only the ruins of the old Fukuoka Castle remain. Built in the 17th century, it became the largest castle in the Kyushu region until 1871, when the castle was abandoned with the abolition of the feudal system.
Located right next to the ruins of Fukuoka Castle is this beautiful park perfect for walking. With a huge pond in the centre and three small islands connected by bridges it is an ideal place to relax. Near Ohori Park one can also visit the Fukuoka Art Museum.
Near the Ruins of Fukuoka Castle and Ohori Park is my favorite shrine, the Gokoku Shrine. Situated on a large esplanade and surrounded by trees I liked this shrine because it looked like an oasis in the middle of the city. If you want to enjoy a bit of silence and tranquility, this is the ideal place.
Reclining Buddha of Nanzo-in Temple
On the outskirts of Fukuoka, a 20-minute train ride from Hakata Station is the Nanzo-in Temple and this huge reclining bronze Buddha. Weighing almost 300 tons and 41 meters long, it is said to be the largest bronze statue in the world. The statue represents Buddha at the time of his death, or the entrance to Nirvana.
Although it is not a spectacular temple, it is known by being the first Zen temple built in Japan, in 1195. It is surrounded by beautiful Japanese gardens where you can stroll peacefully. Admission is free.
Hakata Port Tower
This tower in the Hakata area was built in 1964 and is 103 meters high. At 70 meters there is a platform that can be accessed for free to see Fukuoka from the heights.
Built in 1989, in front of Momochihama beach is Fukuoka Tower. With 234 meters high is the tallest building in the city. For 800 yen you can go up to the lookout tower to enjoy the views of the city and the bay.
How to go from Fukuoka to Busan?
If you want to go from Japan to South Korea, Fukuoka is one of the best connected cities as it is only 210km between Fukuoka and the Korean city of Busan. From Fukuoka you can go to Busan by ferry and plane.
There are two ferry companies, the Camellia Line and JR Kyushu Beetle Jet Ferry. Camellia Line is the cheapest, is a huge boat, leaves 7 times a week and takes 5h 30m. The JR Kyushu Beetle Jet Ferry are smaller boats that depart daily. It departs 16 times a week and takes 3h 5m.
Depending on the day and the offer the prices for a one-way ticket can be around 50 euros minimum and 100 euros maximum. You can buy tickets online at Directferries.com or at Aferry.co.uk. Apart from the ticket, you will have to pay the 500 yen (4.5 euros) port fare.
However, if you prefer and by plane, the trip takes only 55 minutes. There are several companies that make direct flights without stopovers.
You have to be careful if at the border to enter Korea you are asked for the ticket out of the country. These things change every year, so it’s best to be well informed before you go. The price of a one-way ticket can cost you between 60 and 200 euros.
Personal opinion about Fukuoka
An ideal city to live in
The city of Fukuoka had been on my list for a long time as I had read in some travel blog that it was one of the best cities to live in Japan. Whenever I travel I take the opportunity to visit potential cities where I could live someday, so since I decided to go to Japan it was clear to me that I had to see this city.
The truth is, the city didn’t disappoint me at all. First of all, I loved it because it’s one of these cities that are big enough not to bore you, but it’s not one of those giant cities that you have to take meters of an hour to go from one place to another.
City with few foreigners
Another aspect to keep in mind is that it is a city that is not yet plagued by foreigners. There are enough to make you a good group of foreign friends (in the end, we always need to feel a little at home) but it is not crowded. Besides, whether you like it or not, if there are fewer foreigners it will be easier to make friends with the locals, they will surely treat you better and it will be easier to get a good job.
Coastal city near South Korea
The location of the city is ideal. It’s an hour’s flight from South Korea and perfectly connected if you want to travel further south from Japan to Nagasaki or north to Hiroshima and Osaka.
Last but not least, of course, I fell in love with the fact that it is a coastal city. Without a doubt, those of us who are born near the sea always end up needing that sea breeze and that horizon of water and serenity.
Even when months and years are long, life is short.