Travel Japan the inexpensive way!
Fukuoka may be less known than Tokyo, Osaka Kyoto and Hokkaido, but it’s big enough for everything you would want to experience on a trip to Japan in a more budget-friendly setting. It is full of historical places and sightseeing destinations known for great local cuisine. Here, you’ll find yatai (food stall) dishes that can only be found in Hakata. And, of course, the best ramens you can ever taste in Japan! It’s the birthplace of the tonkotsu (hakata) style ramen, popular for its milky-white pork bone broth goodness.
Because Fukuoka is the gateway to Kyushu, my itinerary also includes nearby prefectures you can visit. Kyushu, Japan’s third largest island, is comprised of Fukuoka prefecture, Saga prefecture, Nagasaki prefecture, Oita prefecture, Kumamoto prefecture, Miyazaki prefecture and Kagoshima prefecture. Of Japan’s main islands, it is the closest to continental Asia, particularly China and Korea, and there has been notable cultural exchange as exemplified by Japan’s oldest Chinatown in Nagasaki.
11:25 AM Check-in at NAIA Terminal 3
02:25 PM Depart Manila to Fukuoka, via 5J 922
07:20 PM Arrive Fukuoka
08:30 PM Transit to Hotel
09:00 PM Meet at Hotel Lobby for dinner at Nurubon Yakiniku
09:00 AM Meet at Hotel Lobby, Leave for Ohori Park
09:15 AM Hang around Maizuru Park, Fukuoka Castle and Ohori Park
11:30 AM Leave for Hita(Oita Prefecture)
01:00 PM Lunch at Mamedamachi (Hitsumabushi)
02:00 PM Mamedamachi (Historic Preservation District )
03:00 PM Leave for Kurume
04:00 PM Persimmon picking (Migita fruit farm)
04:45 PM Leave for Hakata
06:00 PM Hotel check in at Nishitetsu Hotel Croom Hakata
Dinner at Canal City Hakata (Ramen Stadium)
07:00 PM Explore Hakata area (Free time)
08:00 AM Meet at Hotel Lobby
Leave for Nagasaki
10:15 AM Nagasaki Penguin Aquarium
11:30 AM Megane Bridge
01:00 PM Lunch at Dejima
02:30 PM 26 Martyrs Museum
04:00 PM Nagasaki Peace Park, Hypocenter Park
Atomic Bomb Museum
05:30 PM Leave for Mt. Inasa(Rowpway)
07:00 PM Hotel check in at ANA Crowne Plaza Nagasaki
Dinner at Kyokaen (Chinatown)
9:00 AM Leave for Nokonoshima Island Park
10:00 AM Hurry and Buy ticket at the Meinohama Ferry Terminal!
10:15 AM Ride the ferry
10:40 AM Ride Bus going to the park
10:50 AM Arrive at Park Entrance (Free time)
3:30 PM Marino City Fukuoka Outlet Shopping
08:00 AM Leave for Yutoku Inari Shrine
09:20 AM Explore Yutoku Inari Shrine
10:30 AM Leave Tenjin area
12:30 PM Lunch at Tenjin (Mizutaki)
01:30 PM Shopping around Tenjin
04:30 PM Transit to Airport
5:30 PM Check in at Airport
08:05 PM Depart Fukuoka to Manila via 5J 923
11:05 PM Arrive Manila
1. EAT A BOWL OF HAKATA STYLE RAMEN
First things first, Fukuoka is a city famed for having the best ramen! So it was no surprise that this was the first thing I would want to eat upon arrival!
Attention ICHIRAN fans! Did you know that the Ichiran ramen in Fukuoka tastes different from its counterparts? Yup! The broth here is sweeter and milkier! “Sobrang sarap!” I just had to eat here twice during the trip! Be your own judge and see if you agree!
Fukuoka is the birthplace of Ichiran and also the tonkotsu (hakata) style ramen! Throughout Kyushu, you’ll find hakata style ramen paired with handmade noodles and generous servings of char siu pork slices!
Look! This is the Ichiran Headquarters Fukuoka that also happens to have a museum inside.
If you’re a ramen fan, one of the must-see destinations is the Ramen Stadium located in Canal City Shopping Mall. It carries eight famous ramen stalls that serve different ramen styles. Each stall has a vending machine at the entrance from which you order your meal. Don’t forget your receipt and change. The receipt is your meal ticket.
Fill your bellies with this heartwarming dish…
Don’t miss the fountain show—different songs and projected light displays accompanied by water jets programmed to dance to the music—that begins every hour in Canal City by the arena-like Center Walk. As an otaku, of course, I was excited to see the One Piece projected show, but to my disappointment, they already changed the program to Neon Genesis Evangelion. Don’t get me wrong the show was very good; it was just that I was expecting to see One Piece. :'(
2. NOKONOSHIMA ISLAND PARK
A must see in October are the fields of pink and white cosmos blooming all over Fukuoka. After a short ferry ride away from Fukuoka city, you’ll find yourself in this beautiful island called Nokonoshima. It’s a beautiful laid back island where you’ll find seasonal fields of flowers such as cherry blossoms, rapeseed blossom and cosmos with breathtaking ocean views in the horizon.
With such a spectacular backdrop, no wonder every photo you take will turn out just as spectacular!
Rapeseed blossom (Late February to mid April)
Cherry blossom (End of March to beginning of April)
Livingstone daisy (Late March to early May)
Poppy (Early March to early May)
Marigold (Late April to Late July)
Hydrangea (Early June to late June)
Sunflower (Late July to late August)
Cosmos (Early October to mid October)
Autumn leaves (Early November to mid November)
How to Get There:
-10-minutes by ferry boat from Meinohama Ferry Terminal! (Y230 one way)
– Take another Nishitetsu bus bound for the island flower park itself. (Y230 one way)
-Entrance to flower park Y1200
– The Marino City Fukuoka Outlet Shopping is near the Meinohama Ferry Terminal incase you want to shop.
(Please check the schedule online for the ferry and buses. )
Nagasaki is known for being one of the two cities in Japan that were hit by atomic bombs during the Second World War, and many of the main attractions in the city are museums and monuments that tell the story of the survivors and those who lost their lives.
Twenty-Six Martyrs Museum and Monument is where 26 martyrs of Japan were crucified as capital punishment after refusing to renounce their Christian faith. Their martyrdom is especially significant in the history of the Catholic Church in Japan, inspiring many Christians in their devotion.
(Saint Lorenzo Ruiz statue in the Twenty-Six Martyrs Museum and Monument )
The Nagasaki Peace Park is a tranquil space commemorating the atomic bombing of Nagasaki on August 9, 1945, which killed thousands of people.
Ground Zero is located in the complex’s Hypocenter Park with a simple black monolith that marks the explosion’s epicenter.
By the Nagasaki Bell, you’ll meet a survivor sharing his stories about the horrors of the atomic bombing. Please read his story…
Go up before sunset and slowly watch the city light up like a treasure on top of Mt. Inasa Observatory that’s famed for its inclusion in the world’s top three night views, rivaling those of Hong Kong and Monaco.
For dinner, visit Japan’s oldest Chinatown located in Nagasaki. Situated in Japan’s third-largest island and close to Korea and China, Fukuoka has developed a unique interesting culture that has been influenced by Korean and Chinese cuisine.
4. YUTOKU INARI SHRINE (SAGA PREFECTURE)
Yutoku Inari Shrine located in Kashima in Saga Prefecture is about halfway between the cities of Fukuoka and Nagasaki. (A convenient stopover on our way back to Fukuoka.)
This shrine is like a merger between Kiyomizudera + Fushimi Inari—visually stunning yet not completely overrun with tourists.
There are over 30,000 Inari shrines around Japan, characterized by their numerous bright vermillion red torii gates. Yutoku Inari, surrounded by greenery and incredible architecture, is proudly one of the three major shrines.
You’ll find Inari-gami deities, the spirit of agriculture and industry, in the form of foxes before you climb the stairs. For singles, Senpai told us the shrine is famous for the god of matchmaking. There’s also a special ceremony for kids to grow tall and healthy, which I jokingly told Alyosha she needed because of her height.
Did you know that Saga is the setting of the new movie of one of your favorite “chismis” topics, Gerald and Julia?
Note: Between Maybes featuring Gerald and Julia did shoot in Saga but not in Yutoku Inari Shrine. It’s JADINE’s “This Time” (2016) that was shot in the Shrine. But, if you’re interested to visit those locations in Saga wait for my December trip back to Japan!
Yutoko Inari Shrine is 1.5 hours by car and almost 2 hours by public transport from Fukuoka. Entrance is free but donations are greatly appreciated.
5. OHORI PARK + FUKUOKA CASTLE RUINS
Spend your day relaxing in Ohori Park. There are plenty of places you can admire like the Japanese Garden, Fukuoka Castle Ruins, art museums and stylish cafes.
The park is registered as a Place of Scenic Beauty. It’s not surprising since you’ll find the park’s water so clear and filled with wildlife.
Take a group shot at the top of the ruins with Fukuoka city in the background!
Best time to visit: In late March you’ll find the park filled with people admiring the cherry blossoms and having picnics. Come May, the park is filled with bright colored wisteria!
6. FUKUOKA BEEF BBQ
Kyushu is a famous producer of wagyu beef. But this restaurant 焼肉ヌルボングループ (Yakiniku Narubon) in Fukuoka is famous for serving Fukuoka/Hakata wagyu which is quite rare!
Set Menu Price: JPY 3240
They serve high-quality meats at a very reasonable price. Since it was our first day in Fukuoka, we decided to have a feast! We chose the all-you-can-eat menu featuring a good selection of premium cuts and delicious appetizers including their house-made kimchi.
7. PERSIMMON PICKING
Fukuoka Prefecture is a leading fruit-producing prefecture in Japan, boasting bountiful orchards and huge volumes of persimmon, kiwis, strawberries and grapes.
Our group went to Migita Orchard located in Kurume city’s Tanushimaru-cho, home to a thriving fruit-growing industry.
September to December is the best time to pick those bright orange persimmons. Entrance is free while the fruit is sold by weight (800 yen and up for one kilogram), so be sure to pick only the right amount you’d like to take home with you.
8. NAGASAKI PENGUIN PARK
Visit Nagasaki’s Penguin Aquarium that holds the world’s largest species of penguins—9 out of the 18 species of penguins on Earth! Among the popular attractions besides the little penguins are the giant King Penguins which can grow to nearly 1 meter in height!
But the best part about our visit were the activities! From the end of November to the beginning of May, you’ll find the penguin parade, where 6 penguins cutely walk from the zoo to the beach. After that, head on over to the aquarium and watch kids get the chance to feed the penguins inside the enclosure. (Make sure to check the schedule so you can take part!)
9. MENTAIKO (Spicy Marinated Cod Roe)
Besides ramen, Fukuoka prides itself for its high quality and incredible fresh karashi mentaiko (spicy marinated cod roe), considered to be top of the class.
Freshly produced in Fukuoka, the flavourful condiment has a distinct spicy, salty and umami characteristic that comes from the depth and flavor of the sauce used in soaking the roe. It’s a favorite local “pulutan” dish often paired with a glass of cold beer or used to enhance the taste of staple meals like rice and pasta. Mentaiko is greatly influenced by Korea and is found everywhere around the city—as breakfast staples in buffets and as 7-eleven onigiri balls or served raw and lightly seared in yatai food stalls and izakayas.
10. MAMEDAMACHI (Historic Preservation District ) + HITSUMABUSHI (Unagi)
Welcome to the charming old town of Mamedamachi in Hita city. There, the old Edo-period architecture still stands as a testament to a different time—houses converted into shops, cafes and restaurants that are worth strolling around.
To properly eat this dish divide your plate into four parts.
-The first part is eaten as is. You can enjoy the sweetness and depth of flavor of the unadon.
-The second part is to get one of the four sides and place it in a bowl. Mix the eel and other condiments including wasabi and green onions with the rice.
-The third way is to get another part into the bowl. Pour the soup that is lightly-flavored dashi broth and enjoy.
These three ways of eating unagi add different dimensions to one’s simple dish. However, you can eat the dish whichever way you like and you can even add the extra unagi sauce that comes with it.
Price: JPY 3500
To be honest, my Fukuoka itinerary is incomplete. There’s so much I was not able to explore since we spent half of our itinerary exploring the nearby prefectures of Saga and Nagasaki. I would like to return to see the cherry blossoms in spring; visit more shrines and even the Nanzo-in, the bronze statue of a reclining Buddha; and, of course, to eat at different ramen joints besides Ichiran and Ramen Stadium.
And all I can say is I will be back this December to make an itinerary for Saga, so I hope you guys stay tuned and check out my updated list!
Cebu Pacific flies daily between Manila and Fukuoka, Japan with fares starting at P3,288! Book Here: http://bit.ly/CEBxourawesomeplanet
P.S. Satisfy your milk tea craving and grab Serenitea’s Okinawa Milk Tea onboard for Php 120!
Book Here: http://bit.ly/CEBxourawesomeplanet
Live an Awesome Life,
ABI of Team Our Awesome Planet
Disclosure: We were media guests of Cebu Pacific Airlines and Strategic Works, Inc. I wrote this article with my biases, opinions and insights.
P.S. If you need a tour guide in Fukuoka, I highly recommend Miki Ishida from https://inbound.japan-tour.jp/en/!