Sometimes also known as Maizuru Castle, Fukuoka Castle (Fukuoka-jō) is a fine example of the type of lavish 17th-century hilltop home once preferred by the country's ruling elite. While the large remaining structure is only a small fraction of the original castle's once massive complex, it is believed to have covered an area of some 47,000 square meters, it remains an impressive site, perched high atop a tall stone foundation overlooking the Naka River.
Highlights of a visit include exploring a number of the original castle gates, turrets, and towers within the extensive castle grounds (much of it now part of Maizuru Park), as well as the ruins of an even older guesthouse once used for visiting diplomats, the only one of its kind in Japan. A great time to visit is the first week of April during the Fukuoka Castle Sakura Festival, famous across the country for its displays of more than 1,000 cherry blossoms. And if time allows, be sure to make a return visit to the castle and its grounds after nightfall, the illuminations are spectacular.
Photo Lavie Photography
Yusentei Park is known for being the former home of the 6th lord of Fukuoka who would have built it in the 18th century.
The park is made up of a beautiful garden which is built in the traditional style as well as an ornate pond and this is a great place to come if you want to get out of the crush of the city. You can also see a slice of Fukuoka as it would have been in the days of old.
Fukuoka Tower is one of the best places to come in Fukuoka if you want to see the city at its best. The tower soars to a height of some 234 meters and from here you can look out over the glittering city below.
One of the good things about the tower is that it is lit up at night and it is also one of the national symbols of the city, so it is well worth a visit when you are in town. Another highlight here is the fact that the tower has a restaurant at the top so you can have lunch or dinner and enjoy the views below.
Kyūshū National Museum
Opened in 2005, Kyūshū National Museum (Kyūshū Kokuritsu Hakubutsukan) made headlines not only for its award-winning architectural design, but also as Japan's first new national museum in more than 100 years. Built to house a large publicly owned collection of art and historically important artifacts related to the island's rich history, this state-of-the-art facility can easily occupy visitors for the best part of a day.
Highlights include displays of prehistoric relics found in numerous archaeological digs, as well as exhibits tracing the long history of the island's importance as a trading link between Japan and nearby China and Korea. Also on display are a number of important national treasures, including 15th-century art by leading Japanese artist Masanobu Kano, along with many historically significant documents and manuscripts. The museum also hosts a café, restaurant, and a well-stocked shop.
Atago Shrine is one of the less visited shrines in Fukuoka which is a shame as it is also one of the prettiest. The shrine is located on a hillside which means that you can also take in sweeping vistas from here all over the city and across to Hakata Bay and you will also be able to see the nesting storks for which this area is famous.
As you approach the shrine you can take in the Torii gate which welcomes you and then walk up the stairs to get to the main shrine area. This shrine is a little off the beaten track compared to other sites in the city but it is more than worth the effort to get here for the views and a glimpse of some of the religious history of the city.