Fukuoka, Japan’s gateway to Kyushu, is famous for ramen, mentaiko (cod roe), street stalls and other food items. In reality, however, it is also home to a number of scenic sites. Here are five of the top recommended tourist spots in Fukuoka.
1. Dazaifu Tenmangu
Dazaifu Tenmangu is the most famous sightseeing spot in Fukuoka. It enshrines Sugawara no Michizane, a scholar, politician and poet from around 800-900 A.D. who was demoted under a false charge. He excelled in academics, so he is revered as the god of “academics, sincerity and warding off evil.” Inside the shrine grounds is a camphor tree that is more than 1000 years old and approximately 6,000 plum trees, including the Tobiume (literally the “flying plum tree”) which is the sacred tree to the deity. Aside from those, other places worth a visit at this shrine are the Kanko Historical Museum and Treasure Hall. This shrine becomes especially busy with visitors during early spring when the Tobiume tree in front of the main shrine begins to blossom.
There are many shops selling "Umegae Mochi,” a steamed yeast bun filled with tsubuan, a grainy sweet red bean paste that's the specialty in this area, along the approach to Dazaifu Tenmangu. So, when you’re already there, seize the opportunity to try it.
Komyozenji is a Zen-Buddhist temple that was built in 1273 by Tetsugyu Enshin of the Sugawara no Michizane family. It is also known as Kokedera, the temple of moss, from the beautiful moss at the Bodaiji, the temple where the ancestral graves are located for people and monks who had served Tenmangu and where people pray for the repose of souls of the departed. It is famous as a karensasui ("dry landscape") temple, a temple with a type of garden that creates a natural landscape through stones and sand, without using water. There are two gardens that are worth seeing in this temple: the Fukko Sekitei, the front garden that is composed of rocks, and the Ittekikai no Niwa, the rear garden that represents land and ocean through moss and white sand. The Sekitei is especially attractive and popular when green and in the autumn. Komyozenji is right next to the approach to Dazaifu Tenmangu, so it would be best to take in the sights at these two places when you’re there.
Admission fee: 200 JPY
3. Miyajidake Jinja
Miyajidake Jinja has long been a popular temple for its god of good luck and prosperous business. Built about 1,600 years ago, it enshrines the gods Empress Jingu, Katsumura no Okami, and Katsuyori no Okami. It is perched on a high place, so after you pass through the torii gate, you have to climb the steep steps in order to worship at this shrine It may be quite a difficult ascent, but you can look forward to what they claim is a spectacular scene at the top!
There are three things at this shrine that are the only ones of their kind in Japan: the Oshimenawa (“enclosing rope”) that measures 13.5m in length, 2.5m in diameter and 5t in weight, the Ohdaiko (giant bass drum) with a diameter of 2.2m, and the Osuzu (large bell) that weighs 450kg. All of them are impressive sights! In particular, the Oshimenawa is the symbol of the god in this shrine. There are eight shrines, also known as “Oku no Miya Hachisha” at the back of this shrine, including Inari Jinja, Fudo Jinja, and Yakushi Jinja, and people say that visiting all eight shrines will make your big dreams come true. Don’t you want to give it a try?
4. Shiraito Falls
With a drop of 24m and breadth of 12m, and a location that is up Mt. Hagane (elevation: 900m), Shiraito Falls has been designated as a site of scenic beauty in Fukuoka Prefecture. It got its name from the waters that flow like white thread ("shiraito"). Here, you can enjoy rich nature, including the dynamic waterfall and the Banryu Kaede maple trees that are said to be more than 300 years old. At the nearby Fureai no Sato, you can experience Yamame trout fishing and “somen nagashi," a dish that uses soumen noodles floating down a bamboo tube, so it will be fun for the whole family. How about soaking in the water that is filled with negative ions while listening to the sound of the water in order to relieve your fatigue from traveling?
5. Kawachi Fujien (Kawachi Wisteria Garden)
If you talk about a place famous for wisteria that is basking in a lot of attention from all over the world, then that would only have to be Kawachi Fujien. After being chosen as one of “Japan’s 31 most beautiful places” by the U.S.-based CNN’s website, it gained even more popularity. It is famous for its trellis with an area of around 6,000sq.m. under the flowers, and the two types of wisteria tunnels that measure 80m and 220m. During the flowering period in April-May, about 1 million wisteria flowers of more than 20 species are in bloom here, giving guests a brightly colored and fantastic view. In autumn, the leaves of about 700 maple trees turn red, so you get to enjoy another facet of the garden that is different from the beautiful wisteria! You need to purchase tickets in advance if you plan to visit during the flowering season, with the admission rates changing depending on the state of bloom of the flowers in the garden. This garden is open only during the wisteria season and the autumn foliage season. You can go there by rent-a-car or taxi.
Wisteria is a delicate plant. When you go around this garden, make sure to follow the rules such as “do not step on the roots,” “do not touch” and “take home your trash” in order to prevent the plants from drying! Kawachi Fujien is open from mid-April through mid-May (wisteria season), and from mid-November until early December (foliage)
*Photo is for illustration purposes
Fukuoka is a place where you can enjoy both the food and the sights. It is a famous sightseeing spot even with Japanese people. So, take this article with you and enjoy sightseeing in Fukuoka!
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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