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Monday, February 25, 2019

 After Tokyo and Osaka, there is another place in Japan to check out when you want to relax and have some great grub. Believe it or not, there is this place called FUKUOKA and it's one heck of a place to visit. For a foodie like me, I had a lot to do when I spent almost 2 weeks here.
  It's been a couple of years since I've been to Fukuoka but having some friends ask me for advice on what to do and where to go made me want to make an updated itinerary with tips and tricks just for you. Now, there are links at the bottom of this page that might help you decide on where to go or what to visit. Hopefully, these tips help you out.
When you arrive, the International airport, you might want to go downtown which would be Hakata or Tenjin area. You could go there by using the bus or the subway. One thing to note though, the subway is not connected to the International terminal. Rather, you would need to take the free shuttle bus to the domestic side and follow the signs. From there, you could ride the subway. The subway operates between 0530 and 0025. The buses, on the other hand, could get you directly where you need to go but could take some time and deciphering.
There are two places that you would want to stay at. The best places to stay at would be near train stations. To be specific, HAKATA and TENJIN area would be your best bet. Staying near train stations would be the best because they are surrounded by malls, restaurants, and stores that would definitely tickle your fancy. The shinkansen passes through Hakata station making it a hub. Hence, there are tons of stores that might make you enjoy it. Tenjin has a long walkway filled with stores and restaurants where you could do your shopping.
Sightseeing wise, you might want to take the 100 yen bus. This bus would go around passing through most of the city. It connects Hakata and Tenjin so you could definitely see different places without having to pay a lot. You might want to also visit CANAL CITY which is a huge shopping mall that has a huge multilevel MUJI to cater to your needs.
As you can see the route of the 100 yen loop bus takes you to the main places that you might want to check out.
Going back to the real reason why I went to Fukuoka. The Food! Fukuoka is known for a lot of things. One of them is being the birthplace of a ton of ramen restaurants. Known worldwide, this is where ICHIRAN started. Seen here, is their headquarters. They have a few floors of Ichiran eating open to the public. If I'm not mistaken, this is one of the few, if not only, Ichiran that offers people to sit together when they eat. Normally, Ichiran only serves ramen per booth per person. 
Locals though prefer another RAMEN chain only present in Fukuoka. SHIN SHIN RAMEN is more of your traditional Ramen place. The branch near Tenjin offers a no frills straight to the point dining experience. You will definitely see people lining up outside even during the wee hours of the night.
One thing you have to understand about Japanese restaurants is that they usually offer only one type of cuisine. This says that it's their specialty. One restaurant that I will never forget would be TEMPURA NO HIRAO. The place I visited was located in a small building with a cinema near Tenjin station. Unfortunately, the building closed down and is now being renovated. Great thing though is that in its place two TEMPURA NO HIRAO opened up in the area. The latest one being in Acros. Now, TEMPURA NO HIRAO is a chain that serves freshly cooked tempura. They only cook it when you order and right infront of you. They offer unlimited side dishes. Plus, the sets are not that expensive. I ate here around 3x when I stayed in Fukuoka. It was that good. The batter and the freshness of the oil made sure that the taste will not be rancid.
An expensive yet worthy meal I had when I visited Fukuoka was when I had lunch in GANSO HAKATA MENTAIJU. FUKUOKA is known for mentaiko. This is pollock roe. Usually, you would see this mixed in pasta or other Japanese dishes. In this restaurant, it is served on rice and even in TSUKEMEN. Having it in dessert works as well. I'm thankful that Fukuoka is a great city to walk at. After eating meals, I would usually just walk home. Not just because I was super full, but this one meal was a little expensive. BUT, I will definitely do it all over again.

There are a lot of other restaurants that you could visit in Fukuoka. I went to a few more but as someone that had been to Japan a number of times, I realized that for Breakfast, you could buy at the KONBINI or 24 hour convenience store the night before. The stores in Japan would actually have delicious snacks, meals, and desserts that are comparable and even better than some restaurants I know. For dinner, I would suggest going to a depachika. These are the basements food halls of department stores. At around 1830, the different stalls located there would have their food at a discount up until closing time which is usually around 2000.

There are also a number of sites to check out when in FUKUOKA. From the OHARI PARK and the castle ruins near it and also a number of shrines. One of the main places to visit though would be DAZAIFU. It's located a few stations south of TENJIN. AS such, you ride at the TENJIN station. Better to pick the express so that you won't need to change trains on the way there. If you're visiting DAZAIFU, please check out the KYUSHU NATIONAL MUSEUM. They are both connected by a long escalator and has an amazing view as well.
Another place to visit would be the ASAHI factory. The Asahi Factory offers a free tour of the plant that ends with free beer and snacks. You must make reservation at least a day before as they don't accept walk-ins. You could do this by calling them or through their website. I would suggest having your hotel concierge to make the call for you. It would be better to have an English speaking tour but slots are limited. If you don't have the time, you could still go and they'll lend you a translator. It's all fun seriously! Just remember take the subway or a taxi going there. If you take a bike or drive a car, they won't let you drink. Don't forget to visit DON QUIJOTE as well. This 24/7 "department store" offers a lot of food, items, appliances, and more that are duty free if you bring your passport. You could get items here for giveaways to your relatives back home. One thing about the stores in Japan is that if you reach a certain amount and you have your passport with you, they could give you a discount because of DUTY FREE. So remember to always bring your passport!
If you're thinking about a place to stay at, you might want to go for SUNLIFE HOTEL 2.3. This one is located just across the HAKATA STATION and you can't beat it for location and price. Since I traveled alone, this was suitable for me. I had a bed, clean shower, television, and wifi. Granted that the hotel room was pretty small but it was quite normal for Japanese standards.  Plus, just across the hotel is a bus stop that you could ride straight to the International Airport. 
Hope this helps you out. 
If you want to ask for more tips or what, let me know.

Places to eat at:
GANSO HAKATA MENTAIJU (Offers mentaiko as the go to in their menu! Worthy of a splurge!)
TEMPURA NO HIRAO (Tempura! Not expensive and frequented by locals.-New locations)
SHIN SHIN RAMEN (locals like this more than Ichiran.)
YOSHIZUKA UNAGI (offers Unagi or Eel as their best seller )
CHIKAE FUKUOKA  (no longer offers lunch sets but the novelty of eating infront of an indoor fish pond makes it pretty good.)
PORK STEAK TOICHI (lunch set meal ftw!)

Places to Stay At:
SUNLIFE 2.3 and other things to do in Fukuoka (right infront of the HAKATA STATION)
FIRST CABIN in FUKUOKA (Airplane themed- hostel located  above Don Quijote in Fukuoka)

Visitor map of downtown Fukuoka.
From The Airport: Transportation to Town
Tourist City Pass: Might be worth it.

Disclaimer:wrote this based on my experience and opinions. I paid for my trip. Please verify all information as it might change by the time you visit Fukuoka.

Photo Disclaimer: some of the photos/diagrams here are not mine. Credits to the original owners.
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