Fukuoka is Kyushu’s largest and most populous city, considered a cool destination for most Japanese. An important harbor city situated close to Korea, there’s a lot to see, do and eat over the next few days. With a forecast of rain, I’ll be taking a small city break here before heading onwards to Honshu. The first thing I do after checking into a cheap hotel is head out for some Hakata ramen. This is a style of ramen that originated in Fukuoka and can now be found widely throughout Japan. It has a distinctive smell to it, with its rich, milky broth and thin noodles. Afterwards, I wander over towards Canal City, a shopping mall in central Fukuoka with canals, fountains and a special gundam-themed light show (giant robots).
A nature park across Fukuoka bay
The next morning, I leave the hotel early and cycle along the bay towards the Uminonakamichi Seaside Park, located on a peninsula across the water from the main city. There are many lovely cycle paths and relaxing touristy things to do in the park. I pass through flower gardens, open fields and even stop off at an onsite zoo to see some capybara. After cycling all the way back into the city (a pretty scorching day with high UV), I have some motsunabe, an oily hotpot dish with offal and vegetables, local to Fukuoka. Afterwards, I wander along to the waterfront to experience the yatai – pop-up street stalls that are a rare sight outside of the city in the rest of Japan. I have some yakitori and a beer, and chat with some other tourists, soaking up the snug atmosphere.
Some down-time in Fukuoka city
The next two days are forecast for some heavy rain, and sure enough it’s pouring down the next morning. Taking it easy, I go along to the mall attached to Hakata Station and have some oyakodon for breakfast, then see the Super Mario Bros movie in the cinema (when in Japan…). The mall also has a Pokemon Centre, along with other fashionable stores. As the rain begins to let up a little, I walk to Ohori Park, a large central park with a pond and some pretty stone bridges. After this, it’s onto the PayPay Dome, the baseball arena, which has a mall attached to it. Here, I’m visiting the TeamLab Forest Fukuoka installation, a modern-art/design piece that utilizes projection mapping, light displays and an interactive environment. You can download an app and, err, shoot arrows at endangered animals (although you release them after catching), in order to unlock facts about them. It’s a very cool installation and a different experience to much of what I’ve done so far.
Giant reclining buddha of Nanzoin
The next day it continues to drizzle. I have a day left here before setting off again, and plan to do boring things like laundry and route planning. But first, I catch a train south to Nanzoin Temple, to see the large reclining buddha. Said to be the largest bronze statue in the world, it weighs around three-hundred tons and attracts many visitors. The rest of the temple complex has other attractions, such as waterfalls and cave shrines. At the foot of the temple is a bridge with xylophones built into its railings, so visitors can play tunes as they stroll. Heading back into Fukuoka, I try another local specialty, mentaiko (pollock roe), at dinner and prepare for the rest of my journey.
My next goal is to cycle and camp over a few days to reach Hiroshima…