Recently, my company had meetings in Fukuoka, Japan. Although most of my time was spent in a windowless conference room, I did have about a half day to explore the city. Here are some observations.
First, getting around in Fukuoka is easy. My hotel was in the downtown area. It’s an easy train ride from Fukuoka airport to Hakata Station, or Tenjin Station. These stations are centrally located to many downtown hotels. Although taxis are plentiful, the train is convenient and easy to use. Nishitetsu is also a major bus company operating in Fukuoka Prefecture. Main bus terminals in Fukuoka city are at Hakata Station, Tenjin Station and at the airport.
I found Fukuoka to be a very walkable city. I started my wanderings by walking from my hotel to Sumiyoshi Shrine. A sign on the grounds explains that the gods enshrined in Sumiyoshi have been worshipped for protecting the nation and sea voyage since ancient times. The main hall was rebuilt in 1623. The grounds are a peaceful and quiet pause in the heart of the busy city.
Next I took a longer walk to Shofukuji Temple. It’s about a 15 minute walk from Hakata Station. Shofukuji was the first Zen temple constructed in Japan, dating back to 1195. Of course, most of the structures have been built and rebuilt over the years. The temple makes for an interesting afternoon, and there are a number of smaller temples in the neighborhood.
Next, I walked a short distance to Tochoji Temple. The head temple of Shingon Buddhism Kyushu sect, it has an impressive five-storied pagoda. For some interesting details about the temple, see the Fukuoka City Guide.
With the day coming to an end, I made one more short walk to Kushida Shrine. Kushida-jinja is a Shinto shrine, believed to have been founded in 757. Today, it is widely known for the Hakata Gion Yamakasa festival. The Shrine grounds include a huge, ancient ginko tree, and Kazari Yamakasa or large stationary festival floats. It’s a great place to spend some time as part of a walking tour of Fukuoka.
Fukuoka is an interesting city, and certainly there are things to do that don’t involve shrines and temples. But if you enjoy walking, and getting a glimpse of Japan’s ancient culture, a half-day in Fukuoka is time well spent.