Japan’s southern island Kyushu is graceful, beautiful and historic. Sitting on the northern tip of the island is the captivating city Fukuoka. A city with a harmonious blend of past, present and future. In spring, Japan’s iconic blossom trees are in full bloom, rising from the south in Kyushu and up through the main islands in the coming months. You can see the picturesque blossoms in the serene green spaces of the city.
Kyushu is Japan’s third largest island, and is located southwest of the main island Honshu. It offers many historic treasures, and is known for its subtropical climate, active volcanoes, beaches, and natural hot springs. The biggest city is Fukuoka; it sits on the northern shore of the island. Because of its closeness to mainland Asia, it has been an important harbour city for centuries and is steeped in history. In the middle of the city is the serene Maizuru Park, with a stunning lake and the Fukuoka castle ruins. The castle ruins, and the park in general, are fabulous spots to see the blossoms. There are numerous walking trails and nearly a thousand cherry trees are planted in the park among the castle ruins.
One of Fukuoka’s best known symbols are the open air food stands (Yatai) serving incredible delicacies into the night. There are over 150 Yatai across the city, and each seat about seven or eight people outside and serve filling Japanese food. A must-try is the iconic Hakata Ramen – a local noodle dish with thin ramen noodles in a pork bone based soup. Another place to grab some quick, but unforgettable food, is in Canal City Hakata: a ginormous shopping and entertainment complex. The complex is often referred to as a “city within the city” and includes over 250 shops, cafes, restaurants, cinemas, a theatre, hotels and game centres. On the fifth floor is “Ramen Stadium” which has eight ramen shops selling noodle dishes from across the whole country. An artificial canal run through the middle of the “city” and the open air space is atmospheric and creatively designed.
Other city highlights include Seaside Momochi, a modern waterfront along Hakata Bay. The area is contemporary and striking, with wide, tree lined streets and futuristic buildings. Just behind is the Fukuoka Tower, rising 234-metres high and offering sweeping views of the city. Nearby is the Fukuoka Yahuoku! Dome – a retractable-roof stadium that’s home to the much-loved SoftBank Hawks baseball team. There’s tours of the stadium as well as a museum dedicated to the life of Oh Sadaharu , the world’s all-time home-run king for fans here.
Near Hakata Station lies Japan’s oldest Zen temple, Shofukuji. It was founded in 1195 by the monk Eisai on his return from China and had attractive temple grounds, with many graves of Fukuoka’s feudal lords. Another atmospheric temple only minutes walk away is Tochoji. Built by famous Buddhist priest Kukai after his training in China in hopes that esoteric Buddhism would spread to the far East, it has the largest wooden statue of Buddha seated on a pedestal in Japan.
Fukuoka has many interesting museums documentary the city’s rich history. The folk museum, Hakata Machiya Furusato-kan, spreads over three traditional Japanese townhouses (machiya), and delves into Hakata culture. There’s replica buildings, old photo exhibits, festivals, crafts and performing arts, as well as lessons in the Hakata-ben dialect if you’re feeling brave. The Fukuoka Asian Art Museum is vast, and houses the world-renowned Asia gallery and other galleries with contemporary exhibits from all over the continent. A more modern exploration of the city is in the Robosquare museum. Located inside the TNC TV Building, this free museum showcases Japan’s advancements in the field of robotics. On display are the robotic dog, Aibo, the cyborg seal, Paro, and a collection of other robots. The museum holds workshops and seminars for school children to prepare for participation in Robocup Junior competitions.
For other good blossom spots, head out of the centre toPark. The park is sprawling, with several different areas including playgrounds, an amusement park, a zoo, a water park, a sports field and of course the vibrant flower gardens. About 2000 cherry trees are planted in the sprawling grounds that stretch for four kilometres. We recommend hiring bikes, and enjoy the scenery that way. Another, small setting, is Fukuoka’s Atago Shrine. The shrine stands on a hill with spectacular views over the city and Hakata Bay. During spring hundreds of cherry tree decorate the shrine’s steep approach and hilltop location making it a detached and utterly peaceful setting. If you have enough time in Fukuoka, then hop on the ferry to Nokonoshima, an island only about 15-minutes away. Nokonoshima is a delightful mixture of natural and artificial parks, with a swimming beach, wildflower fields and traditional huts selling crafts. The views from the ferry itself are beautiful in the day’s bright sun.
Fresh and infused with the pink hues of blossom in spring, the Tom Ford India sunglasses are the perfect accessory for a trip to Fukuoka.
Ultra-modern and contemporary, the Gucci Sylvie extreme cateye sunglasses should be top of your packing list for a Japanese getaway.