Vegetarian's Japan Guide

The Best Hakata Travel Guide: Where to Go and What to Do

Whether you will be taking the bullet train or flying into Kyūshū, the first major transportation hub you are likely to stop by is Hakata Station (博多駅). Around the station, there are a variety of attractions for you to stop by. Whether you are only transiting Hakata or planning to stay for a few days in Fukuoka City, you will most likely want to include a few of the below spots into your itinerary:

Explore Hakata With a Guided Tour or Hire a Photographer

If you prefer a guide to introduce you to the charms of Hakata, how about joining one of the below tours? You can also hire a photographer for a private photoshoot session!

Tip: Refer to HERE if you want to rent a Kimono when you are in Hakata!

Activities to Enjoy in Hakata

Tsubame no Mori Plaza (つばめの杜ひろば)

The building of JR Hakata Station is a shopping mall in itself. Apart from the restaurants and shops, there is a really unique plaza on the rooftop. Not only is there an observatory terrace, but there is also a mini train that runs around the sky garden in the plaza!

On top of that, a part of the plaza forms the precinct of Tetsudō Shrine (鉄道神社). It has a part of the spirit of the god in Sumiyoshi Shrine (住吉神社), close to the station enshrined. While the worship hall is rather small, the shrine where you can pray for a safe trip from JR Hakata Station has three torii gates on the 50-meter-long approach with food and Kyūshū’s specialty stalls lined on the sides. There is even a small vegetable farm and a small river!

Walking through the three torii gates has a meaning to it. The first gate repels evil spirits. Given that nothing bad surrounds you, it is time to obtain some good luck as you pass through the second gate. To make your life happier, the third gate grants pilgrims good relationships.

As you pass through the fourth torii gate, you will notice a few more interesting things placed around the precinct. In the middle of the precinct is a statue of seven boys connected by a rope, so it is like each of the boys is a train carriage. It is said that if you pet their heads, it will make your prayers come true.

On the right of the statue, there is a small but rather cute Jizō Bodhisattva. It was made to symbolise prayer for a quick recovery from those affected by the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake. Moreover, you can examine the old map of Hakata, located opposite Jizō Bodhisattva.

The Cost and the Operation Hours of the Little Tsubame Train

On the other side of the rooftop terrace, the mini-train Tsubame will excite young children.

  • The cost is 200 yen per child, but free for toddlers who are 2 years old or younger.
  • On Mondays and Fridays, you can board the train from 11 am to 1:40 pm and 3 pm to 6 pm.
    • From the 4th of January to the end of February, the hours are shortened to 5 pm.
  • On weekends and public holidays, the train will be running from 10 am to 6 pm.

Canal City Hakata (キャナルシティ博多)

Canal City Hakata is one of Kyūshū’s representative commercial complexes, as big as Tokyo Disney Land, situated at the bank of the Naka River (那珂川).

The name of the complex comes from the fact that there is an artificial canal flowing through the middle. You will also find a dynamic water fountain where water and lighting shows are held every 30 minutes from 10 am.

In addition to shops and restaurants, there are also two hotels, a cinema, a theater, and other entertainment facilities. As you shop around, you might spot some people in business suits. They are most likely salarymen working on the same complex’s office floors.

On Sun Plaza’s B1 floor, various performances performed by artists all over the world are on stage almost every day. Remember to check with the staff upon arrival to see what performances and events are scheduled for the day.

Events are also held to celebrate various festivals throughout the year at Canal City Hakata. The Christmas illumination and performances at Canal City Hakata are something you definitely wouldn’t want to miss out on if you visit Hakata in December (we still regret not checking it out during our visit until today, as we didn’t know about it!).

Tip: As the complex consists of multiple areas and hundreds of shops and restaurants, it is best to plan ahead by visiting their website HERE.

Canal City Hakata’s Business Hours and Access Information

  • The shops are open from 10 am to 9 pm.
  • Restaurants are open from 11 am to 11 pm.
  • If you are taking a bus, get off at Canal City Hakata-mae (キャナルシティ博多前).
  • From Hakata Station (博多駅) and Fukuoka Subway’s Nakasu-kawabata Station (中洲川端駅), it is around a 10-minute walk.

Sumiyoshi Shrine (住吉神社)


If we could only visit one shrine in Hakata, it would definitely be Sumiyoshi Shrine!

Although buried in the urban jungle close to Hakata Station, the shrine with a long history has a vast precinct filled with greeneries.

One of the biggest highlights we found is the God of Sumo (see the photo). What pilgrims like to do is join their hands with God’s hands to gain and absorb his strength!

For more information about the attractions in the shrine, please refer to our article on Sumiyoshi Shrine!

Rakusuien Garden (楽水園)

If you want to escape the bustling Hakata city center quickly, Rakusuien at the back of Sumiyoshi Shrine is the perfect place to spend your 10 or 20 minutes break.

The small garden is like an oasis in the city, allowing you to slow down and appreciate the beauty of nature. From mid-November to early December, the garden will be covered with the stunning bright fall colors.

© 福岡市

Rakusuien was a part of the rich Hakata merchant Shimozawa Zenemon Chikamasa’s (澤善右衛門親正) villa, completed in 1906 and later donated to the city. In 1995, the city renovated the villa and opened it as a place for the locals to enjoy the Japanese tea ceremony.

Enjoying Tea at Rakusuien

© 福岡市

Rakusui is the alias of Chikamasa. Tea ceremonies and practices are regularly held in the garden’s tea room, Rakusui-an (楽水庵).

As for tourists, we can quietly relax whilst sipping a cup of freshly made matcha green tea and consuming a piece of traditional sweet in the room covered by tatami mats. At the same time, we can adore the Japanese garden in front of us.

The cost of the matcha set is 500 yen.

The garden is covered by gorgeous light green moss. The multi-tiered waterfall and the koi fish are also some of the highlights of this lovely garden.

The fish will most likely swim towards you if they sense your presence. What they are after is, of course, some fish feed, which the garden is selling.

© 福岡市

On a rainy day, the traditional garden water feature, Suikinkutsu (水琴窟), will produce some clear echo water sounds from the rain drops. If it isn’t a rainy day during your visit, you are welcome to use the ladle (located at the water fountain) to pull some water down the little hall.

Hakata-bei Wall (博多塀)

© 福岡市

Another thing that you will want to pay attention to is the earthen walls. The style is called Hakata-bei. After Toyotomi Hideyoshi took down Kyūshū in the late 16th century, Hakata was revived by using the stones and tiles from the buildings that were burnt down during the civil war. The walls made from these recycled materials are called Hakata-bei.

Apart from Rakusuien, Hakata-bei can also be seen in a couple of shrines and temples in Hakata (Kushida Shrine and Shōfuku-ji for example).

The Flower Calendar in Rakusuien

  • Early spring: Cherry blossom
  • Early summer: Iris
  • Mid-November to early December: Fall foliage (the season usually peaks from the end of November)

Rakusuien’s Opening Hours, Admission Fees, and Access Information

  • Rakusuien is open from 9 am to 5 pm daily except Tuesdays and from the 29th of December to the 1st of January.
    • If Tuesday is a public holiday, it will close the next business day.
  • The admission fee is
    • 100 yen for senior high school students and above
    • 50 yen for elementary and junior high school students
  • From Hakata Station (博多駅), it is around a 10-minute walk.
  • If you take the loop bus, get off at TVQ-mae (TVQ前). From the garden, it is a 2-minute walk. Otherwise, get off at Echimae Yonchō-me (駅前4丁目) or Sumiyoshi (住吉), which is a 7-minute walk away from the garden.

Tip: If you have a Fukuoka City Visitor’s Guide or FUKUOKA TOURIST PASS, you will get 20% off the admission fee.

Kushida Shrine (櫛田神社)

© 福岡市

Another shrine located not far away from Hakata Station is the Kushida Shrine. It is where the Hakata Gion Yamakasa Festival is held (one of the biggest events in Hakata’s summer).

The best thing about it is that the Kazari Yamakasa Festival float is permanently stationed in the precinct!

For more information about the festival and other interesting things about the shrine, please refer to our article on Kushida Shrine.

Hakata Machiya Furusato-kan Museum (博多町家ふるさと館)

Just opposite Kushida Shrine, the three traditional houses built in the Meiji period have been renovated and opened as a place for people to examine or make their traditional crafts. You can also go there to appreciate and understand the local culture and Hakata citizens’ lifestyle from the Meiji to the Taishō periods.

Each of the three buildings of the facility has a theme: one to examine the structure of Machiya (tradesman’s house), another to exhibit handicrafts, and the third one as a place for tourists to shop for local specialties.

© 福岡市

For more information on what you can expect from the facility, refer to our Hakata Machiya Furusato-kan article!

Mangyō-ji Temple (普賢山萬行寺)

If you are a cat lover, head to Mangyō-ji, just a 10-minute walk from JR Hakata Station. When you get there, you will most likely be served by two black cats at the reception!

© 博多の魅力

In addition, what will catch the attention of history buffs is the temple’s crest. In contrast to the crest used by other Pureland sect temples in Japan that uses wisteria, Mangyō-ji uses the Mōri clan’s crest, the flower of sagittaria trifolia.

For more information, please refer to our article on Mangyō-ji Temple!

Tōchō-ji Temple (真言宗 東長寺)

If you have been amazed by the Great Buddha Statue in Kamakura or Nara, how about being astounded again in Hakata?

Tōchō-ji is the temple that houses Japan’s Biggest Gautama Buddha Sitting Statue. We are sure that the 10.8-meter-tall Buddha will be another jaw-dropping statue to see!

For more information, please refer to our Tōchō-ji article.

© 福岡市

Shōfuku-ji Temple (聖福寺)

If you practice zen or meditate regularly, you might be interested in Shōfuku-ji, the first Zen temple in Japan!

The temple is also another spot in Hakata that will excite all cat lovers! The Hakata-bei Wall (博多塀) on the precinct is really amazing to see too.

For more information, please refer to our Shōfuku-ji article!

Jōten-ji Temple (承天寺)

Fun fact: the method of making food made from flour in Japan, such as udon and soba noodles and buns, originates from Hakata (according to Jōten-ji’s history).

In addition to food, the famous Hakata-ori silk fabric, as well as the Hakata Gion Yamakasa Festival, are all related to a monk called Shōichi Kokushi (聖一国師) who founded Jōten-ji.

For more information, please refer to our article on Jōten-ji Temple!

© 福岡市

Shungetsu-an Udon Restaurant (中世博多うどん春月庵)

If the recent reviews of Karo no Uron have left you unsettled, there is another one that we recommend on the other side of the Gion Station. It is the closest restaurant to Shōichi Kokushi’s (聖一国師) Jōten-ji Temple (承天寺) and is said to be reproducing the taste from the Kamakura period (1192 – 1333).

The unique thing about the udon noodles made at Shungetsu-an is the wheat that is used to make the noodles. They are made with wheat germ. Containing a lot more minerals and fiber, the noodles are much healthier than normal udon.

The burdock noodle dishes are still the best. But, the surprising fact about Shungetsu-an is that although it specializes in udon noodles, the most popular dish is its burdock soba noodles (´▽`*).

☛ Check with the staff to see if they still serve up to three portions of noodles for free. If that is the case, you can request additional noodles when you put through your order.
☛ From 2 pm, check with the staff to see if they still offer unlimited noodles for free.
☛ Arrive there early, it is a restaurant that has queues during lunch hours.

Shungetsu-an Jōtenjimae Store’s Business Hours and Access Information

  • Shungetsu-an is open from
    • 11 am to around 4 pm on weekdays
    • 11 am to 3:30 pm on Saturdays
    • The restaurant will be closed if all noodles made for the day are sold out.
  • From Hakata Station (博多駅), it is around an 8-minute walk.
  • From Fukuoka Subway’s Gion Station (祇園駅), it is around a 5-minute walk.

Hakataza Theater (博多座)

The best place to go for Kabuki plays in the Kyūshū region is probably Hakataza Theater in the Nakasu area in Hakata.

Plays in various genres, musicals, and other performance arts are scheduled to be on stage daily. Not only is the theater’s interior luxuriously designed, but the customer service is definitely five stars if not six!

© 福岡市
© 福岡市

How to Buy/Reserve a Hakataza Theater Ticket and How to Get to Hatakaza Theater

  • If you don’t speak/read Japanese, the easiest way to purchase a ticket is to head to their ticket office on the 2nd floor from 10 am to 5 pm.
  • If you read Japanese, you can make a reservation through their official website HERE.
  • From Hakata Station (博多駅), it is around a 20-minute walk.
  • From Fukuoka Subway’s Nakasukakawabata Station (中洲川端駅), it is a 1-minute walk.

Fukuoka Asian Art Museum (福岡アジア美術館)

If you enjoy visiting galleries and art museums, you might want to spend an hour or so at the Fukuoka Asian Art Museum.

The museum that is conveniently located next to Fukuoka City Subway’s Nakasukawabata Station (中洲川端駅) was opened in 1999 as a window for cultural exchange between Japan and other Asian countries.

Ⓒ 福岡市
Ⓒ 福岡市

Although the museum isn’t big, it has a wide range of artworks from different countries in Asia. English notation for the artworks is available for the permanent exhibition. You can also download their free app to your device for further details and information on the artwork.

Apart from the permanent artworks on display, interesting special temporary exhibitions are also held throughout the year (The Anime and Ghibli exhibition, for example). From time to time, there might even be small folk music concerts!

If you want to take a break and rest, head to their café for some desserts. There is even a kids’ corner for young children to play in as you enjoy a cup of coffee or read a book from the bookshelf.

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

  • Fukuoka Asian Art Museum is open from 9:30 am to 6 pm from Sunday to Thursday. On Fridays and Saturdays, the museum is closed at 8 pm.
    • The last admission is 30 minutes before the museum’s closing time.
    • The museum is closed on Wednesdays and from the 26th of December to the 1st of January.
    • If Wednesday 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
    • Free otherwise
    • Extra charges apply for entry to special exhibitions.
  • Fukuoka Asian Art Museum is located next to Fukuoka City Subway’s Nakasukawabata Station’s (中洲川端駅) exit no. 6.

Hakata’s Yatai Food Stall Street (博多の屋台街)

© 福岡市

If you are a foodie like us, the first thing you will know about Hakata is probably the Yatai food stalls.

If you take a night stroll around the areas close to and along the Naka River (那珂川), you will find many food stalls being set up and running. The Yatai stalls are considered one of Hakata’s most popular attractions, particularly amongst tourists.

The history of the Yatai stalls started after World War II. During the postwar turmoil, stalls were set up along the streets and parks in the city to serve hungry locals. Japan’s first Yatai Stalls Regulation (屋台基本条例) was also enacted during that time.

Because there are so many stalls clustered in many different areas, we recommend you check out the Yatai map HERE to get a visual idea of where the stalls are located.

© 福岡市

For information on each individual stall, please refer to the official website HERE to pinpoint which ones you want to visit. Don’t be like us, who didn’t get to enjoy the stalls because we didn’t do our homework beforehand and gave up because we couldn’t find the area that had more stalls!

Please refer to the official How to Enjoy Yatai Guide HERE before you head to the food stalls.

Hakata Port Tower (博多ポートタワー)

© 福岡市

Anyone who knows about Japan also knows about Tokyo Tower. But many may not know or hear of its youngest sibling, Hakata Port Tower. The tower at Hakata Port is the last tower in Japan designed by a Japanese architect and engineer, Naitō Tachū (内藤多仲).

Completed in 1964, the tower was the symbol of the large leisure facility, Hakata Paradise. Nowadays, the complex is a commercial facility that aims to be a place for relaxation for locals.

As tourists, in addition to shopping and dining, head to the observatory 70 meters above the ground for a panoramic view of the ferries and boats, as well as airplanes landing and taking off at the Hakata Airport located opposite the tower. It is the only few observatories in the urban areas that won’t charge you an admission fee!

During the night, the tower lights up in different colors throughout the year.

Hakata Port Tower’s Opening Hours and Access Information

  • Hakata Port Tower is open from 10 am to 5 pm daily except Wednesdays.
    • The last admission is at 4:40 pm.
    • If Wednesday is a public holiday, it will close the next business day.
    • The tower is also closed from the 29th of December to the 3rd of January.
  • From Hakata Station (博多駅), take bus route 99 and get off at Hakata-futo (博多ふ頭).
  • From the Tenjin area (天神), take bus route 99 from Tenjin Solaria Stage-mae 2A (天神ソラリアステージ前2A) and get off at Hakata-futo.

Tōkaebisu Shrine (十日恵比須神社)

Ⓒ 十日恵比須神社

On the south end of Higashi Park (東公園), close to JR Yoshizuka Station, Tōkaebisu Shrine is a usually quiet area. However, during the Tōkaebisu Festival, at least one million people would flock to the shrine from the 8th to the 11th of January!

If you want to know the reason for it, please refer to our Tōkaebisu Shrine article (=゚ω゚)ノ.

Discover Other Attractions in the Wider Fukuoka City

If you have more time to spend in Fukuoka, the city has a couple more awesome destinations that might interest you, including islands with vast, stunning flower fields.

For more information, please refer to our article on Fukuoka City!

Click the photo for more attractions to visit in Fukuoka!

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