Fukuoka is a city with a long stretches of waterfront. It faces Hakata Bay to the north, and rivers wind their way through the central part of the city. Seaside Momochi, the site of Fukuoka Tower and the Yahoo Dome, was a peaceful part of the seaside with a pine forest about 20 or 30 years ago.
The Naka River, which flows next to Canal City Hakata, was once a popular site for bathers. The landfill of the seashore area and the advance of urbanization, however, have limited the opportunities for people to experience the pleasures of being near the water in their daily lives.
That changed this spring when a water bus began operating on the Naka River. It departs from Tenjin Chuo Park, a convenient spot in the center of the city. The service features round trips to Bayside Place Hakata at the Hakata wharf, and an evening pleasure cruise on the river to view the Nakasu area and Canal City.
The round trip between Tenjin and Bayside Place, which offers passengers to catch the delightful daytime breeze, can be used either as a means of public transportation or as a sightseeing resource. The evening pleasure cruise that passes by the bright neon lights of Nakasu is a perfect way to enjoy the Fukuoka night scenery. Both trips take about 20 minutes and are very affordable at 500 yen. Whenever people come to visit in Fukuoka from other parts of Japan or overseas, I often take them for a boat ride from the Hakata wharf to see the Uminonakamichi Seaside Park. One can see the streets of Fukuoka from the calm Hakata Bay. The boat docks at a site with an aquarium, a resort hotel, and a lush public park. This trip is perfect for experiencing some of the best parts of Fukuoka, a compact place in a superb natural environment.
Fukuoka sightseeing requires at least a full day, however. People without the time to spare cannot fully enjoy everything there is to see. That’s why the Naka River water bus is an easy way to see a lot of the city in a short period of time. Spring has arrived bearing warm breezes, so it’s an excellent time for a short trip on the water bus. People visiting Fukuoka for the first time, or long-time residents, will certainly discover something new.
Originally published online for Fukuoka Now magazine (Jun. 2011)