Exploring an exciting town like Fukuoka, packed with historical landmarks, great shopping and plenty of places to dine, you can easily slaughter your wallet in a single day. But the best things in life are free! So we’ve listed up approximately 30 things to enjoy for FREE in Fukuoka, from culture to sightseeing, to museums, language lessons and more! Check back again soon, we’ll add some more as we find them!
Zazen – Zen Meditation
Zazen (seated meditation) is a Zen Buddhist practice. Myohoji Temple Fukuoka holds a free zazen experience for foreigners and beginners once every few months. Check Fukuoka Now’s event page and classifieds section for details! The next one will be held on May 20 (Sun.).
Free Film Screenings
Perfect for a rainy day! There’s a 49 seat mini-theater located next to the video library on the first floor of the Fukuoka City Public Library in Momochi, where all screenings are free. There you can watch classic motion pictures, operas and special programs on the arts, culture and education. Local features and programs for children are also provided. Please take note that English subtitles are not provided. For details, check online for the current schedule.
• Fukuoka City Public Library Film Theater
• 3-7-1, Momochihama, Sawara-ku, Fukuoka
• Tel: 092-852-0600
• Weekdays & Sat.: 10:00~19:00, Sun. & hol.: 10:00~18:00
• Closed: Mon.
• Screening schedules: http://toshokan.city.fukuoka.lg.jp/theater_schedules/detail
Hakata Port Tower: A Panoramic View of the Bay and City
Enjoy a 360-degree panorama of Hakata Bay and central Fukuoka from the top of one of Fukuoka’s oldest landmarks. It’s not as tall nor as fancy as its big sister, Fukuoka Tower (234 m) but it’s conveniently located near Tenjin and yes, it’s completely free! A 70 m high viewing platform offers an excellent view and you can also enjoy the exhibits of the Port Museum at its base as well as experience moving a container crane via screen and rope-tying.
Photo provided by the City of Fukuoka.
• Hakata Port Tower
• 14-1 Okihama-machi, Hakata-ku, Fukuoka
• Tel.: 092-291-0573 (Port Tower), 092-282-5811 (museum)
• 10:00~22:00, Port Tower Museum 10:00~17:00
Free Lookout and Urban Forest Climb
This one requires a little leg work – literally. The rooftop of the spectacular ACROS Building in central Tenjin is a little known spot to see the city from above. Access to the area is free, but alas, requires climbing the 809 steps of the outdoor staircase at the back of the building. However, the staircase is almost entirely covered and surrounded by foliage, making the climb a unique experience in itself. Note the days and hours below before heading out.
• ACROS Fukuoka
• 1-1-1 Tenjin, Chuo-ku, Fukuoka
• Tel.: 092-751-8591
• Lookout: open only on weekends, 10:00~16:00
• Step garden: Mar. ~ Apr. & Sep. ~ Oct. 9:00~18:00, May ~ Aug. 9:00~18:30, Nov. ~ Feb. 9:00~17:00
Free Admission to Fukuoka Tower on your Birthday!
Riding up to the top of Fukuoka’s highest lookout will cost an adult ¥800, but go during your birthday week (three days before or three days after your birthday) and not only will they let you ride up for free, you’ll get a special birthday card too! Plus, they offer a 20% off coupon for the Sky Lounge restaurant.
• Fukuoka Tower
• 2-3-26 Momochihama, Sawara-ku, Fukuoka
• Tel.: 092-823-0234
• 9:30~22:00 (last entry 21:30)
• Closed: 6/25 (Mon.), 6/26 (Tue.) 1/4 ~ 1/31/2019
Learn and Experience
Fukuoka City Science Museum
The Fukuoka City Science Museum re-opened in Ropponmatsu during October 2017. A permanent exhibition room is located on the fifth floor of the premises, and on the sixth floor is one of Kyushu’s largest planetariums (25 meters high) which gives children and adults alike the chance to have a fun-filled science experience!
Admission to the third and fourth floor is free! Stop by the JR Kyushu booth to find out what it feels like to sit on a train driver’s seat or check out the Asahi Shoes stand to learn how to keep your feet in good condition. A selection of scientific reading material is also available for gathering data or information. This is a real must if you’re looking for something to do on a rainy day!
• Fukuoka City Science Museum
• 4-2-1 Ropponmatsu, Chuo-ku, Fukuoka
• Tel.: 092-731-2525
• Closed: Tue. and New Year holidays (12/28 ~ 1/1)
• 5F entrance fee: adult ¥500, HS ¥300, JHS and ES ¥200, Planetarium: adult ¥500, HS ¥300, JHS and ES ¥200
Citizen’s Appreciation Day at Nagahama Fish Market
Check out the high-pace tuna auctions and bartering at Japan’s 3rd biggest fish market! Although the market is usually closed to the public, every second Saturday of the month it opens to the general public from 9:00 to 12:00. Check out our report here.
Any other day, you can catch the action from the visitor walkway that’s open 24 hours. Tuna auctions begin at three in the morning! They also have a spectacular lookout on the 13th floor of the building which looks across the port area. If you get hungry, restaurants within the market serve up fresh and tasty seafood caught on the day!
• Nagahama Fish Market
• 3-11-3, Nagahama, Chuo-ku, Fukuoka
• Tel.: 092-711-6414
• Visitor walkway & 13F open 24 hrs, fish museum 10:00~16:00
• Citizen’s Appreciation Day: 9:00~12:00 on every second Saturday of the month
This unique museum collects and displays antique technology mostly from the 17th and 18th century. Discover quadrant instruments used to measure altitude, wartime compasses, to historic maps of the seas near Japan as used by Japanese sailors.
Discover Fukuoka’s Traditional Crafts
This museum exhibits Fukuoka’s traditional crafts, including Hakata Ori (woven textiles) and Hakata Ningyo (dolls), Hakata Magemono (items made of shaped wood), Hakata Koma (spinning tops), Hakata Basami (scissors), Hakata Hariko (ornaments), Multi Glass (glass art), and Chikuzen Hakata Ya (bamboo arrows) which have been passed down through centuries of craftsmen.
• Hakata Traditional Craft and Design Museum
• 1-6, Kamikawabata-machi, Hakata-ku, Fukuoka (next to Kushida Shrine)
• Tel.: 092-409-5450
• 10:00~18:00 (last entry 17:30)
• Closed: Wed. (open if Wed. is a hol. and closed next day), 12/29 ~ 12/31
NOW MAP – Free Trilingual City Map
Never get lost again! Pick up a free copy of Now Map (by yours truly, Fukuoka Now) at any Tourist Information counter (JR Hakata City, in front of Mitsukoshi Dept., in Tenjin, Hakata Port or nearly 100 hotels). Landmarks and transportation routes are clearly marked in English and in Korean, Chinese and Japanese too. There are even some money-saving coupons! Every foreigner, resident or tourist should have a copy!
Published by Fukuoka Now
Fukuoka Map – Now Map
Fukuoka Now Classifieds
Here’s another free yet incredibly valuable service provided again by yours truly, Fukuoka Now. Read or post messages for free (some exceptions) about items for sale or for free, or swap and browse around for teachers or students. It’s also a great place to find friends with similar interests or maybe even a job!
Published by Fukuoka Now
Fukuoka Now Classifieds
Free Legal Advice for Foreigners
Having legal troubles? Fukuoka Bar Association and Fukuoka City International offers free legal advice to foreigners living in Fukuoka on the first and third Saturday of each month. With notification well in advance an interpreter can be provided if your first language isn’t English or Chinese. The consultations take place in private inside Fukuoka City International Center. Call or inquire in advance at the information desk (1F) to confirm if sessions are available.
• Fukuoka City International Center
• 4-1 Tenya-machi, Hakata-ku, Fukuoka
• Tel.: 092-262-1799
• Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
• First and third Sat. of the month (or the following week, if the day falls on a national holiday)
• Starting times: 10:30, 11:15, 12:00, and 12:45
Free Japanese Lessons
Great news for those who want to study Japanese but don’t have the money to pay for a tutor or school. Several locations in different parts of the city offer Japanese language classes for free and for most levels. Below is list of options within the city. Check online and view more locations outside the city limits.
Kashiihama Elementary School Oyako Nihongo Class (Parents & Children)
They offer not only Japanese classes but also the opportunity to learn about Japanese culture as well as participate in cultural exchanges with other students. Just drop by and join in!
• Kashiihama Elementary School
• 2-2-2 Kashiihama, Higashi-ku, Fukuoka
• Tel.: 090-5921-7798
• Thu. 18:30~20:30
Takatori Nihongo Takatori Kominkan
Free Japanese lesson by volunteers who have experience teaching or similar experience. Usually about 20 persons, teachers and student, attend. Basically, one student for each teacher, so all levels can be accommodated.
Asunaro-Kai Youth Center – HOLD
Free Japanese languages classes take place at the Seinen Center in Daimyo once a week. There are four conversation classes ranging from beginner to advanced, all of which are taught by local retirees and homemakers who have gone through Japanese language teacher training. Each lesson has a 15 student limit and reservations are not required. There is no need to contact them in advance, just stop by and join in!
• 2F Fukuoka City Seinen Center
• 2-6-46 Daimyo, Chuo-ku, Fukuoka (*note: Google Maps indicate that the place is ‘permanently closed’, but this is not the case)
• Tel.: 092-606-7614
• Sat.: 14:30~16:00
Other Free, Unique Spots
All you can eat and drink FREE for Ladies!
Oriental Lounge is a bar in Daimyo, where men pay ¥200~600 every 10 minutes for all-they-can-eat-and-drink, but, and here’s the interesting part, ladies eat and drink for free! What’s the catch? Good question. In order for the women to stay and continue the free drinks they must agree to share their space with men. Ladies, we’re not recommending this place, we’re just letting you know it exists! Your mileage may vary!
Foot Bath at Kego Shrine
If you get tired from walking around town, you don’t have to look far to find a healing spot. There’s a free foot bath tucked away in a corner of Kego Shrine. It’s a great way to warm up your feet on a cold day, or just soothe your soul. Towels are available for ¥100.
Shake Hands with Paul McCartney
Shake hands with Paul McCartney, Frank Sinatra and Michael Jackson all in a few minutes and all for free! Someone bright spark at the Dome was clever enough to ask many of the celebrities to have performed there to have their hands cast in bronze. The hands are now on display around the periphery of Fukuoka Yahuoku! Dome where you can shake or photograph them to your heart’s content. They’ll never run away.
• Gates 5~7, Fukuoka Yahuoku! Dome
• 2-2-2 Jigyohama, Chuo-ku, Fukuoka
• Tel: 092-847-1006
• Accessible 24/7
• List in Japanese of all the celebrities: http://www.softbankhawks.co.jp/stadium/facilities/dante.php
Experience an Earthquake
If you feel like cheap thrill, or if you’re genuinely interested in what it feels like to experience an earthquake or typhoon, then visit the Fukuoka Disaster Prevention Centre for an accurate simulation. They will put you through various scenarios including floods and fires while offering useful advice on how to cope in such crises. An English guidebook is available there or online. Free advice that could someday save your life! Reservation required.
• Fukuoka Disaster Prevention Center
• 1-3-3 Momochihama, Sawara-ku, Fukuoka
• Tel: 092-847-5990
• 9:30~17:00 (last entry 16:30)
• Closed: Mon. & last Tue. of month
Milk a Cow and Pet a Sheep
Want to have a hand-on farming experience milking cows? For free? The 47-hectare ranch is located just 30 minutes south of Tenjin by car (or bus). There are plenty of exhibits about ranching, places to roll around on grass fields and a panoramic view of the city. Not free, but you can also attend a butter-making class, ride horses, purchase freshly made milk, yogurt and cheese, or enjoy a barbecue lunch (Mar. ~ Nov. only).
*To prevent spreading diseases to animals and livestock at the farm, visitors coming from overseas must have stayed more than one week in Japan before visiting. Click here for more details.
Free Guided City Tour
Every day between 14:00~15:00, the Fukuoka Convention Bureau operates free-of charge walking tours around both Hakata and Tenjin, exploring the city’s shrines and historical monuments. Note, the guidance is ONLY in Japanese, so these tours are best suited for those who speak some Japanese or those who go with a Japanese-speaking friend. Bookings aren’t required, but each tour is limited to 10 participants, first come, first served.
• Kushida Shrine, Kashima Honkan, Ryuguji Temple, Tochoji Temple
• Meeting place: Hakata Machiya Folk Museum, 6-10 Reisen-machi, Hakata-ku, Fukuoka
• Tenjin Chuo Park, ACROS Fukuoka, Suijo Park, Suikyo Tenmangu Shrine, Fukuoka City Museum of Literature
• Meeting place: Fukuoka City Hall lobby, 1-8-1 Tenjin, Chuo-ku, Fukuoka
• Fukuoka Convention & Visitors Bureau
• Closed: 12/28 ~ 1/3, fourth Tue. of April
• Tel.: 092-733-5050 (Fukuoka Convention & Visitors Bureau)
NHK Studio Tour
Peek behind the scenes at the NHK TV’s Fukuoka studio. The tour will take you through the studios where all the action takes place. Inside the hall is an infant’s area, where parents can relax and read picture books (Japanese only) with their children.
• NHK Fukuoka Studio
• 1-1-10, Ropponmatsu, Chuo-ku, Fukuoka
• Tel.: 092-724-2800
• Tours: 10:00~17:30, reservation hours: 10:00~12:00, 13:00~15:00
• Approx. 1~2 hours (tours during a live broadcast takes 2 hours)
Free Beer Tasting and Factory Tour
Asahi Beer Factory Hakata
Find out how one of Japan’s most beloved brand of beer is made inside the historic Fukuoka brewery. Walk through the factory, watch a video on brewing techniques, touch and smell hops, wheat, and other ingredients and then finish the tour off with taste of three different Asahi beers: Asahi Super Dry, Asahi Black, and Super Dry Premium. (Soft drinks will be provided for non-drinkers.) Prior booking is required. Foreign language guides are available, but require prior notice.
• Asahi Beer Factory Hakata
• 3-1-1 Takeshita, Hakata-ku, Fukuoka
• Tel.: 092-431-2701 (9:00~17:00, closed during New Year holidays)
• Closed: Never
Kirin Beer Factory
Walk around Kirin factory – taste and compare beers produced by different brewing methods. On the tour, you can taste Kirin, Kirin Stout, and Kirin Zero Ichi. For children and non-drinkers, Kirin soft drinks are offered. Prior booking online or by phone is required. Note that tours are only in Japanese.
• Kirin Beer Factory
• 3601 Mada, Asakura City, Fukuoka
• Tel.: 094-623-2132
• Closed: Mon. (open if hol. and closed next day), New Year holidays
TOTO Toilet Factory Tour
Japan leads the world in toilet technology with heated seats, bidet and toilet shower functions. See how everything is made at the world-famous TOTO factory. Prior booking and a minimum of five participants are required. Note that tours are only in Japanese.
• TOTO Factory
• 2-1-1 Nakashima, Kokurakita-ku, Kitakyushu
• Tel.: 093-951-2053 (weekdays 9:00~17:00)
• Mon. ~ Thu.: 9:00~12:00, 13:00~16:00 (last entry 15:00)
Fukutaro Mentaiko Factory Tour
Find out how Fukuoka’s prided mentaiko (cod roe) is produced at the mentaiko factory of Yamaguchi Aburaya Fukutaro! The factory has a history of over 100 years and staff will take you through a guided tour of the complex. Their informational video is available in Japanese, English, Korean, and Chinese. You can also buy exclusive mentaiko products only available at the factory. Booking is essential.
Free Wifi Spots in Fukuoka
Free Wi Fi hotspots are available in all subway stations and many other public places. Here’s a list of just some of the places who provide free Wi Fi.
• All Fukuoka Subway stations
• Fukuoka Airport International Terminal
• Fukuoka Airport Domestic Terminal
• Fukuoka Tourism Information Center Hakata and Tenjin
• Fukuoka City Hall
• Fukuoka City Museum
• Fukuoka Art Museum
• Hakata Machiya Folk Museum
• Fukuoka Tower
• Fukuoka NPO Volunteer Center
• SPR Center Building
• Rainbow Plaza
• Fukuoka City Citizen Welfare Plaza
• Fukuoka City Gender Equality Promotion Center AMIKAS
• Fukuoka City Public Library
• Fukuoka International House
• Hotel New Otani
• Sutton Hotel Hakata City
• Toyo Hotel
• Fukuoka Bank Central Branch (Fukugin Honten Hiroba and FFG Hall)
• Fukuoka Parco
• JR Kyushu stations (8 stations / Hakata, Kyudai-gakkentoshi, Kyusandai-mae, Yoshizuka, Fukkodai-mae, Kashi, Chihaya, MInamifukuoka)
• Fukuoka Parco
• Nishitetsu Tenjin Expressway Bus Terminal, Hakata Bus Terminal (1F and 3F)
• Tenjin Underground Shopping Arcade
• Agora Fukuoka Hilltop Hotel & Spa
• Canal City OPA
• The Beach (Zauo)
For a detailed list of all Fukuoka City Wifi Access Points, click here.
Originally published in Fukuoka Now Magazine (fn194, Feb. 2015), updated on May 2018.