Vegetarian's Japan Guide

The Best Guide to Fukuoka’s Ōhori Park and Maizuru Park

If you ask a local who lives in Hakata where they would take a leisurely stroll, they will probably tell you Ōhori Park (大濠公園). Since the park opened to the public in 1929, it has been the city’s oasis. But, during the cherry blossom season, many of the locals will definitely flock to Maizuru Park (舞鶴公園), located just next to it. The cherry blossom scenery there was chosen to be one of the Top 100 in Japan!

Both Ōhori Park and Maizuru Park were a part of Fukuoka Castle in the Edo period (1603 – 1867). Below is a list of the attractions in each of the parks that you might consider stopping by.

Ōhori Park (大濠公園)

Located not too far from the Momochi Seaside Park, the Ōhori Park was constructed by imaging China’s beautiful Xi Lake (西湖). It is just amazing to have a park of almost 400,000 square meters in the downtown city!

Originally, Ōhori Park was Hakata Bay’s cove. Back in 1606, when the first lord of Fukuoka Domain, Kuroda Nagamasa (黒田長政), was constructing Fukuoka Castle, a part of the cove was filled to form the outer moat of the castle. Thus, the park was named Ōhori, meaning a large moat.

Ⓒ 大濠公園
Ⓒ 大濠公園

The lake, which takes up roughly half of the park’s size, has a surrounding 2 km promenade which is best for jogging and cycling.

Throughout the year, you can take an easy walk in the park to adore the lovely flowers or rent a small boat to paddle around the lake. There are even hydro cycles for you to cycle on the lake!

At the lakeshore, many also enjoy feeding the fish in the lake and various birds, including eagles flying in the sky!

The islands in the middle of the lake are illuminated from 6 pm to 10 pm (7 pm to 10 pm from April to September). So if you have eaten too much for dinner, stop by Ōhori Park for another face of the awesome park!

Ⓒ 大濠公園

The Japanese Garden in Ōhori Park

Ⓒ 大濠公園

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Ōhori Park, a Japanese garden was completed in 1984, adding some traditional elements to the park. There is also a traditional tea house on the north side of the garden where tea ceremonies can be held.

The Ōike Pond (大池) symbolizes the ocean. Floating on the lake are three islands that are said to be the home to celestial beings who live forever and enjoy endless prosperity.

Astonishingly and uncommonly, the garden has three artificial waterfalls, which are the garden’s highlights.

The garden is decorated with many rhododendrons, black pines, and maples, making it the most stunning spot in Ōhori Park.

Ⓒ 大濠公園

Ōhori Park’s Japanese Garden’s Opening Hours and Admission Fees

  • The Japanese garden is open daily except for Mondays from
    • 9 am to 6 pm from May to September
    • 9 am to 5 pm from October to April
    • The last admission is 15 minutes before the garden’s closing time.
  • If Monday is a public holiday, it will close the next business day.
  • It will also close between the 29th of December and the 3rd of January.
  • The admission fee is
    • 250 yen for adults
    • 120 yen for children under the age of 15

How to Get to Ōhori Park and Boat Rental in the Park

  • The easiest way to get to Ōhori Park is by getting off at Fukuoka City Subway’s Ōhori-Kōen Station (大濠公園駅). From there, it is just a 1-minute walk.
  • If you are taking Nishitetsu Bus, get off at either Kuromon (黒門) or Ōhori-Kōen (大濠公園).
  • Boats can be rented from
    • 11 am to 6 pm from April to August
    • 11 am to an hour before sunset from September to March
    • Please refer to the official website HERE for the costs and capacity.

Fukuoka Art Museum (福岡市美術館)

Opposite Ōhori Park’s Japanese Garden, Fukuoka Art Museum, which opened in 1979, is where you will find a collection of historical and modern artworks from both Japanese and Western artists. Some highlights of the art museum are paintings by Salvador Dalí, Joan Miró, and Shinsui Itō (伊東深水), historic tea ceremony utensils, and Buddhist art that have been designated as important cultural properties. Close to the staircases at the museum’s north, you will also encounter Yayoi Kusama’s (草間彌生) yellow pumpkin!

With around 16,000 pieces of artwork in the collection, the artworks exhibited are changed once every couple of months. So you can always check back in every time you visit Fukuoka. Just note that photography isn’t allowed in any of the exhibition rooms.

The museum was designed by famous Japanese architect Maekawa Kunio (前川國男), who also designed Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum (東京都美術館). If you have visited the museum before 2019, you might want to return to check out its new internal atmosphere after the major renovation work was completed in March 2019.

While the savory menu in Fukuoka Art Museum’s cafe and restaurant isn’t vegetarian, you can enjoy some delicious desserts from the hotel chef!

Tip: Exploring the museum will only take around 60 to 90 minutes. So try to avoid between 11 am and 3 pm on weekends and public holidays when the museum is packed most.

Fukuoka Art Museum’s Opening Hours, Admission Fee, and Access Information

  • Fukuoka Art Museum is open from 9:30 am to 5:30 pm daily except for Mondays and from the 28th of December to the 4th of January.
    • From July to October, the museum operates on extended hours till 8 pm on Fridays and Saturdays.
    • The last admission is 30 minutes before the museum’s closing time.
    • If Monday is a public holiday, it will close the next business day.
  • The admission fee is
    • 200 yen for adults
    • 150 yen for senior high school and university students

Maizuru Park (舞鶴公園)

Ⓒ 福岡市

If you are interested in Fukuoka Castle Ruins (福岡城跡) and the cherry blossom in Maizuru Park, head west instead of east after you get to Ōhori-Kōen (大濠公園) Station.

The castle ruins were designated as a National Historic Site in 1957 and chosen to be in the Top 100 Japanese Castles in 2006. The cherry flower icon of Ōhori-Kōen (大濠公園) station is proudly advertizing the beautiful scenery that you will see in early spring around the station.

Although the majority of Fukuoka Castle’s structure in Maizuru Park is gone already, many of the castle’s stone walls remain today.

As you pass through each layer of the stone wall, you are also slowly hiking up the hill. Located at the center of the walls was where Fukuoka’s castle keep was. Nowadays, it is an observation deck for you to overlook Fukuoka’s cityscape.

Ⓒ 福岡市
Ⓒ 福岡市

One thing to be mentally prepared for is that the park is in a hilly area. So exploring this historical site will involve some light hiking.

Tip: You can be dressed up in a kimono at Mayu no Yakata, close to Sannomaru Square (福岡城・ 鴻臚館案内処 三の丸スクエア). For more information, please refer to their website HERE!

Maizuru Park’s Cherry Blossom

What attracts many tourists to Maizuru Park in early spring is the hundreds of cherry trees that blossom gorgeously from mid-March to early April. And the best thing is that huge crowds aren’t usually expected there despite being a well-known cherry blossom spot!

The Fukuoka Castle Cherry Blossom Festival is held each year from late March to early April. Again, there will be crowds, but you will unlikely be pushed around even when events are on with temporary stalls set up.

During the festival, the cherry trees will be illuminated with different colors. Although 400 yen will be charged if you are older than a high school student, it is the spot in Fukuoka that you won’t want to miss out on in this period of the year!

You can refer to the official cherry blossom map HERE (in Japanese).

Ⓒ 福岡市

Maizuru Park’s Flower Calendar

Ⓒ 福岡市

In addition to cherry blossom, a variety of flowers can also be adorned throughout the year.

  • Plum blossoms: late January to February
  • Cherry blossoms (various types): late March to mid-May
  • Wisteria: late April to early May
  • Peony: Late April to May
  • Iris: Late May to June
  • Hydrangea: June and July
  • Lotus: late July to August
  • Fall foliage: early November to early December
  • Camelia: Mid-November to mid-March

Fukuoka Castle’s History

As mentioned before, Fukuoka Castle was built by the first lord of Fukuoka Domain, Kuroda Nagamasa (黒田長政). Up until the end of the Edo period in 1868, this massive castle was the base of the Kuroda clan. Because the shape of the castle looked like a crane flying/dancing in the sky, the castle was nicknamed Maizuru.

The once magnificent castle took seven years to complete. The name Fukuoka is also related to Kuroda Nagamasa. Originally from the Setouchi City in Okayama Prefecture, when he was given this land to govern in Kyūshū, he named the domain by taking a part of his hometown’s name, “Bizen Fukuoka”, to commemorate his root.

When the castle was completed in 1608, there were 50 buildings, including three castle keep. The castle keeps, however, didn’t exist for too long. According to the letter written by the lord of the Okura Domain, Hosokawa Tadaoki (細川忠興), to his son, Nagamasa was the one who ordered the dismantlement of the castle keeps. This is so the Tokugawa shogunate in Tokyo wouldn’t feel threatened.

Ⓒ 福岡市

While the castle keeps are gone, it won’t be hard to imagine their majesticness by using the various turrets and castle gates as references.

After the Second World War, Fukuoka Castle was taken by the American army. When it was appointed National Historic Site in 1957, most of the structure was already absolute or burned down in fire hazards.

If you are interested in the history of Fukuoka Domain, seeing the 3D model of Fukuoka Castle as well as historical documents such as old maps, stop by Fukuoka Castle Museum (福岡城むかし探訪館). English notation is available in the museum.

Kōrokan Hall Ruins (鴻臚館跡)

Kōrokan was one of the diplomatic facilities in northern Kyūshū during the Nara and the Heian period (794 – 1185). It was used as a reception hall for foreign visitors and provided temporary accommodation for students and monks going to China for further studies.

From the excavated items, such as Islamic pottery and Persian glassware, it was determined that international trading took place at Kōrokan too.

A part of the excavated items is on display in Kōrokan Ruins Museum (鴻臚館跡展示館). Models of the excavated site, Kōrokan Hall, and the life-size structure of the facility can also be examined.

Fukuoka Castle Museum and Kōrokan Ruins Museum’s Opening Hours and Access Information

  • Fukuoka Castle Museum and Kōrokan Ruins Museum are open from 9 am to 5 pm.
    • The last admission is at 4:30 pm.
    • The museums are closed from the 29th of December to the 3rd of January.
  • Entry is free for both Fukuoka Castle Museum and Kōrokan Ruins Museum.
  • The easiest way to get to Maizuru Park is by getting off at Fukuoka City Subway’s Ōhori-Kōen Station (大濠公園駅). From there, it is a 5-minute walk.
  • If you are taking Nishitetsu Bus, get off at either Otemon and Heiwadai Stadium Entrance (大手門・平和台陸上競技場入口) or Fukuoka Castle Ruins and Kōrokan-mae (福岡城・鴻臚館前).

Discover Other Amazing Destinations in Fukuoka City

Click the photo to find out more about where you can get this amazing view!

Wondering where else around Ōhori Park and Maizuru Park is worth your time? Check out our article on Fukuoka City!

In the article, we have included various attractions that may suit your interests. There is also information available on Fukuoka’s famous Yatai street stalls (=゚ω゚)ノ.

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