Subways, trains, buses: all-you-can-ride!
I’m Julie, and as an avid traveler and explorer I’ve seen lots of Fukuoka, but I still have a long list of sights to see! Thanks to the Fukuoka Tourist City Pass, my friend Louis and I were able to cross off a few of those places. The pass allows tourists to travel in and around the city, utilizing trains, buses and the subway – perfect for a full day of discovery!
Kamado Shrine (9:45~11:15)
Our first destination was Dazaifu Station, but rather than visit the often-crowded Tenmangu Shrine, we went to visit the illustrious power spot: Kamado Shrine at the base of Mount Homan. At the station, we were told to take the Nishitetsu Mahoraba bus until the last stop, Uchiya; it was about a ten-minute ride on a very quaint little bus that also made a few other stops in between.
We arrived at a parking lot where a few pitstop-like cafes were visible, clearly targeting visitors of the shrine. We walked up the large stone stairs leading to the shrine, shrouded by the abundant greenery of the low-hanging trees. Before reaching the shrine, the lower floor of the shrine office and event hall is already visible, an impressive structure that, despite its modernity, effortlessly blends into the scenery. The only other visitors were a handful of schoolchildren and a small group of hikers, all of whom seemed to vanish from Kamado rather quickly, probably heading straight for the hiking trail.
The shrine is home to Tamayori-hime no Mikoto, who used to be known for protecting Dazaifu against demons and is currently worshipped as the god of love and matchmaking. This is why many couples and newlyweds come here – actually, the shrine is a popular wedding location. People still looking for their special someone also make the voyage, many in hopes of passing the trial of the ‘aikyou’ (charm) rock. If one manages to safely cross from one rock to the other with their eyes closed, their wish for love is said to be granted.
We got our omikuji (fortune) and paid our respects before heading to the amulet shop, a truly unique juxtaposition to the ancient shrine. Built in 2012, the concept for the juyosho, or amulet office, was created by acclaimed interior design firm Wonderwall, who managed to perfectly reimagine the codes of the shrine into their modern design. The store feels serenely clean and modern and sells a number of good luck charms, including one for meeting your special someone!
Getting there: Board Nishitetsu Train from Tenjin to Futsukaichi. Change trains at Futsukaichi to Dazaifu. About 45 min. Then board the Nishitetsu Mahoroba Bus in front of Dazaifu Sta. Get off at Uchiyama bus stop (near Kamado Shrine). About 10 min.
Bayside Place Hakata & Hakata Port Tower (12:50~14:30)
Once we started to get hungry, we made our way back to Tenjin on the Nishitetsu train, and then hopped on a bus. Just ten minutes later, we arrived at Bayside Place, a commercial complex that features a string of shops, a free aquarium featuring around 3,000 sea creatures, and restaurants by the seaside, conveniently connected to the passenger ferry terminal. If you are planning a trip to one of the nearby islands such as Shikanoshima, Genkaijima, Iki or Tsushima, then this is your stop. Though there are a number of nice restaurants and cafes to choose from, we opted for the famous Wangan Ichiba, a market that sells fresh fruit, vegetables and, most notably, fresh sushi for a very reasonable price.
Luckily, the weather was perfect for a portside picnic and a stroll around the area, which lead us to the nearby Hakata Port Tower (open every day from 10 am to 10 pm). With over half a century of history in navigating ships to safety, visitors can learn more about the tower and even ride the elevator up 70 meters to enjoy a 360-degree view of the surrounding sea and also the city. Best of all, it doesn’t cost a penny – or rather, yen.
After making our way back down, we walked around some more, stumbling upon a futsal match in a nearby park, where a number of locals could also be found fishing. With the sun shining down and the light breeze in our backs, it was all very idyllic.
Getting there: Take the Nishitetsu Mahoraba bus back to Dazaifu. Board the train from Dazaifu Sta. back to Futsukaichi Sta. and change trains again to Tenjin. Then board Nishitetsu Bus no. 90 from the Tenjin Solaria Stage-Mae bus stop and get off at Hakata Futo (Wharf), right in front of Bayside Place Hakata. About 10 min.
Fukuoka Art Museum and Ohori Park Japanese Garden (15:15~17:15)
Fully refueled thanks to a little Vitamin Sea, we took a Nishitetsu bus to Ohori Park and enjoyed a stroll around the pond on our way to the recently reopened Fukuoka Art Museum – one of the many perks of the Fukuoka City Tourist Pass is a ¥50 discount on the admission! Even if you decide not to see the exhibition inside, there is still plenty to see around the museum as a number of sculptures can be found in its vicinity, such as the famed black and yellow polka-dot pumpkin by Yayoi Kusama.
Right behind the museum lies a hidden gem: a spacious Japanese garden that offers discounted admission for overseas tourists – we paid just ¥190 instead of the usual ¥240, so be sure to bring your passport! The garden is open from everyday except Monday, from 9 am until 5 pm and it also features a tea house, though a prior reservation is necessary. We enjoyed a gorgeous afternoon stroll here, which allowed us to clear our minds and get away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Getting there: From Hakata Futo (Wharf) bus stop, take either Nishitetsu Bus no. 63, 46-1, or 46 to Tenjin Kita. About 10 min. From there, change to the Kuko (orange) subway line towards Meinohama and get off at Ohorikoen Sta. About 10 min.
Nishijin Market Street (18:05~19:30)
Two subway stops from Ohori Park lies Nishijin, an area that paints a great picture of where the locals shop and hang out, where old meets new. Though the market street has a longstanding tradition, many shopkeepers and gastronomers are opening up businesses here alongside restaurants, bars and mom-and-pop stores with a long history. Scattered in between are a number of fresh produce and flower shops offering much better prices than more central supermarkets. The real attraction here, however, is the “wheeled cart troop” – a long row of pushcart market-stalls that operate from Monday to Saturday between 1 pm to 6 pm, while the street is closed to vehicular traffic. The merchants are mostly elderly ladies who sell local produce and homemade goods such as pickles, mochi rice cakes, and sweets and snacks.
We decided it was high time for a cup of coffee and made our way into Trickster Coffee, a specialty shop that is both affordable and Instagrammable. Trickster Coffee offers not only a variety of beans and blends, but also cakes, sandwiches, and other drinks such as smoothies and homemade lemonade.
Getting there: From Ohorikoen Subway Sta., ride two stops towards Meinohama and get off at Nishijin Sta. About 5 min.
We finished our tour back in Fukuoka’s renowned nightlife district, starting with a free sampling of mentaiko (spicy cod roe) at Fukuya, the originator of this local delicacy. We wandered through the streets and stumbled upon the Tamon-dori arcade, filled with tiny restaurants and bars, one livelier and more inviting than the next.
When we finally reached the narrow snaking passageways of Ningyou Syouji – we found an eclectic mix of bars, perfect for a night of boozing. These tiny alleys are called yokocho in Japanese, literally ‘alleyways off to the side of a main street’ and though they appear to be scruffy and slightly mysterious, the people and places you’ll discover can be quite memorable. Locals from all walks of life gather at these watering holes, where regulars can come to share their stories, grab a snack and drink after work, or just cool off and leave the real world behind in these almost surreal corridors.
For lovers of cocktails and a slightly nostalgic yet classic atmosphere, Bar Sebek is the place to go; a dimly lit bar with heavy dark wood interior. The owner, an award-winning mixologist called Makiko, always wears a white shirt, bowtie, and a kind smile on her face. Enjoy a drink to the sounds of twinkling jazz and marvel at the various memorabilia and apothecary-like decor scattered throughout the bar amongst Mamiko’s various certificates and trophies that distinguish her as a cocktail creator.
Getting there: After walking all the way down Nishijin Market Street, you will reach Fujisaki Subway Sta. From there, ride the subway towards Fukuoka Airport and get off at Nakasu-Kawabata Sta. About 10 min.
We covered lots of ground, saw tons and the Fukuoka City Tourist Pass saved us ¥700 each on transportation fees, as we would have normally paid ¥2,040 per person! Also, we were able to save a fair bit of time as we didn’t have to buy tickets at every stop, and we avoided the crowds at the ticket gates by merely showing our passes to the attendant. If you opt to visit any of the 19 attractions listed below – and we highly recommend you do – you can save even more and score a few goodies too!
Here’s a complete list of discounts available as of spring 2019.
• Fukuoka City Museum (Permanent Exhibition): Adult ¥200 → ¥150
• Fukuoka Art Museum (Permanent Exhibition): Adult ¥200 → ¥150
• Fukuoka Asian Art Museum (Permanent Exhibition): Adult ¥200 → ¥150
• Hakata Machiya Folk Museum (Admission): Adult ¥200 → ¥150
• Yusentei Garden (Admission): Adult ¥200 → ¥160
• Shofuen Garden: (Admission): Adult ¥100 → ¥80
• Rakusuien Garden (Admission): Adult ¥100 → ¥80
• Fukuoka Tower (Admission): Adult ¥800 → ¥720
• Namiha no Yu (usage fee): Adult ¥700 → ¥600
• Oh Sadaharu Baseball Museum (Admission): Adult ¥1,000 → ¥800
• Yahuoku! Dome Tour (Admission): Adult ¥1,500 → ¥1,300
• Marine World (Admission): Adult ¥2,100 → ¥1,900
• Uminonakamichi Seaside Park: Free Uminonakamichi Seaside Park original clear file (limited number)
• Dazaifu Tenmangu Treasure Hall (Admission): Adult ¥400 → ¥300
• Dazaifu Tenmangu Kanko History Museum (Admission): Adult ¥200 → ¥150
• Kanzeonji Temple Treasure House (Admission): Adult ¥500 → ¥300
• Dazaifu Amusement Park: ¥100 yen discount on entrance fee
• Dazaifu Station Rental Cycle: ¥100 yen discount on rental fee (open 9:00~18:00)
• Pleasure Boat “Yumin Tomato”: Free can of coffee
Originally published in Fukuoka Now Magazine (fn246, Jun. 2019)