Now before you point out the obvious about the fact that this is a “Korean photography blog” and how dare I bring up Japan, just let me point out that a lot of people I know have been asking about Fukuoka…. Japan, for a while now and I thought that I would share some thoughts, tips and tricks.
How to Get There
Fukuoka is really close to Busan and that is why so many of us down here head there whenever we want to see whats across the water. There are daily flights to Fukuoka and their airport is attached to their subway line but I normally go there by ferry. You can get round trip packages for the weekend for cheap and that should normally include accommodation.
Where to Stay
Normally, I stick around Hakata station as it is easier to get on to the subway and very close to one of the greatest stores in Japan, Yodobashi! For those traveling with an average budget and didn’t go with a package then Hotel Clio Court is a higher end hotel for a regular price. The Hotel Centraza, just across the court from Hotel Clio Court is also a decent hotel with great staff. Just across the street from Hotel Clio Court is the Hotel Miyako. It is also a decent place to stay and the manager actually gave me a discount one time when there was a booking problem with another hotel. These hotels are around the 70,000 won to 80,000 won mark, but that is standard for Japan in many cases. There are cheaper hotels around but they are tougher to find and perhaps farther from transportation lines. Have a look on Agoda as I have used them to book some hotels like the Centraza and they usually give decent prices. For budget minded travelers try the Ryokan which are the Japanese “yogwan” there are a few listed on the Agoda link. There used to be a hotel kiosk at the ferry terminal and that is what I used to find them. they are usually around 30,000 won or less and are a great way to experience Japanese culture.
I must admit that I usually do a lot of walking when I am in Fukuoka. The place is just so nice in the summer that I can’t help but get out and walk around. The subway is fast and very clean. The bus system I must admit is a relaxing system. They are not in a hurry to get any where and usually are dead silent when they stop. Most will even shut off their engines at red lights. If you come by ferry you can take the bus to Hakata station right from the entrance of the ferry terminal. The difference is that in Japan you pay at the end of your trip, so have around 220 yen or more ready. [box type=”info”] Go to the Tourist Info desk in Hakata station and ask about a Visitor’s Pass for the subway. You should be able to pay a small fee and then ride as much as you want all day. [/box]
Where to Eat
Fukuoka is famous for ramen and I would highly suggest that you try it. I stumbled across it by accident as most of my earlier trips to Fukuoka were highly unplanned and before the time of smartphones to aid in such things like what is good to eat. At any rate, Tonkotsu ramen is what Fukuoka is famous for and little shops like this will serve it to you in the traditional way. There are also many western restaurants like the Hard Rock Cafe and whatnot to eat at if you are weary of local foods. However, there are tons of great places for good eats. Also take a look around for the restaurants with the ticket machine at the front of the shop. These will give you some cheap eats and a unique experience.
Don’t forget to hit the bakery in Hakata station for some delicious croissants. You can smell them all through the station and they are amazing. People will line up for these tasty treats so just follow your nose and look for the line.
Where to Shoot
This is the meat of the article. This is what you’ve been waiting for! Okay I am going to start around the hakata station and work my way out. That the way that I usually go when shooting this city.
1. Shofuku-ji Temple – This is a major temple in Fukuoka and a very nice one. The grounds are lush and green and the temple is very traditional. It is close to Gion station. Just head out exit #1 walk about a block down the main road (past the other temple) turn right and walk down the road and you’ll see the temple grounds.
2. Kushida Shrine – I sort of stumbled into this one and actually a wedding here as well. This is one of the more important temples in Fukuoka and it is has some great masks on the walls.
3. Fukuoka/Hakata Yatai – This is a great place for travel shots. It is busy and tons of people flow in and out of there. According to some this place is over-priced and rude. I have never eaten then, just walked around and took photos. It is located Near Canal City Shopping Center, on the backside near the river.
4. Fukuoka Tower – There is a viewing area here with some nice views of the city. It is a little out there in regards to public transportation. However if you walk down from Tojin-Machi Station (it is long walk) it could be a nice trip as you go past Hawk’s Town and the Fukuoka Dome Baseball stadium.
A quick route is to go to the next subway stop “Nishijin” and take exit #1 take your first right and head past the high school to the Hyatt residences. Stop off at “Bon Repas” It is a foreign food grocery store and the head past it and turn left at the fire station. That road will take you to the main road and then you can just turn left and find your way to the tower.
5. Ohori Park – This is a great park with some real natural beauty and a picturesque lake. I actually had to sleep on a bench there one night as I was stuck in Fukuoka on visa run and didn’t have enough money for a hotel. Also hit the Mister Donut at the park entrance, they usually give free refills on coffee. The castle ruins are near by and give a nice view of the area.
6. Ohori Park Japanese Gardens – At the back of the park there are some wonderful Japanese gardens. If you pick up a copy of the Fukuoka visitors guide you will get a discount on the admission. The regular admission is around 240 yen and they are closed on Mondays.
7. Fukuoka Art Museum – This is worth checking out if you well… like art but there is not much to shoot here. This is only included as a slight detour from a hectic day of shooting as it is still in Ohori park and right next to the gardens.
8. Seaside Momochi – This is an artificial beach area just down from Fukuoka Tower. It is an interesting place that you can get some shots of the Fukuoka Dome.
9. Nakasu Area – This is the area along the river just down from Canal City Shopping Center and Yatai stands is a great place to capture the reflections of the signs at night. This area has lots of bright signs and some cool views.
10. Hakata Station Area/ Yodobashi Street – This area is located just behind Hakata station. It may not be for everyone but it has a ton of activity at night with a number of bars and a few pachinko parlours too. Feel free to make the excuse to do some street photography and just play around in Yodobashi…
When to Go
Fukuoka is famous for festivals and Sakura. This year the Sakura should be blooming around the end of March and the beginning of April. The Hakata Gion Yamakasa Festival is a famous festival starting at the Kushida shrine. 1 ton floats are elaborately built for 2 weeks previous to the race day and then run on a 5 km course through the city. This festival usually starts during the beginning of July. The summer months are warmer than Korea a bit but the seaside is pleasant.