27 years ago the warehouses of this port area were torn down, and from the dust arose Bayside Place. Bayside is a complex of shops, restaurants and attractions next to Hakata Port, and only a 15-minute bus ride from Tenjin. This area is very convenient for those visiting from Korea and China by ship (around 20 minutes on foot, or you can take the Alice in Baysideland train), so you can often see flocks of tourists converging upon the duty-free shop, but this complex caters more to those island hopping to local weekend-getaway destinations (like the beautiful Iki Island, famous for its sea urchin) and families looking for a day out. There’s so much to do for all ages, whether you want to stroll along the boardwalk with that special someone, enjoying the sea-breeze, make friends with the huge turtle at the free aquarium, or indulge in an Alice in Wonderland themed lunch. One of the main attractions for all ages, however, is Hakata Port Tower, a free-to-enter 100 m tall tower with a 360° look out point. Here are our recommended sights, tastes and experiences from Bayside Hakata…
This boardwalk is at its best when set against azure skies. With the sea on one side and grass and flower pots on the other, it feels like it could have been transported whole from a European seaside town. This is a good place to enjoy a leisurely saunter and a breath of fresh sea air. The man-made grassy knolls make lovely picnic spots in summer.
Hakata Port Tower
Hakata Port Tower is 100 m tall and is not just a control tower for the port but is also a tourist attraction (it was the best-known viewpoint in the city until Fukuoka Tower was built in Momochi). The structure was designed by Naito Tachu, known for his work on the Tokyo Tower. From the viewing point at 70 m you have a great 360° view of the bay area; on a clear day you can see across to Island City or Uminonakamichi Park. Maps help you identify the places within view, and telescopes allow for a closer look. If you’re interested in the actual workings of the port, information boards provide info on the different kinds of ships that can be seen and the port machinery. At the bottom of the tower is an information center, where you can learn all about the different things exported and imported into Hakata Port, accompanied by fetching wax models for illustration. There are also activities for kids, such as the rope-tying station and the dress-up area, where your little one can try on a captain’s hat and jacket. And what’s more, entry to both the museum and viewpoint is free!
10:00~22:00 (Museum: 10:00~17:00)
Namiha No Yu (super sento)
This super sento (bath complex and spa) is the perfect way to clean up after a hard day’s holidaying at one of the nearby islands. This onsen offers both a dry spa (somewhat like a dry sauna) and hot baths. Feel like a baby bee in one of their honeycomb dry spa beds, or enjoy the mineral water pumped from 800 m below. They offer a combo ticket, which allows access to both the baths and dry spa, for ¥1,600 (ES and under: ¥1,000). The adjacent shop sells bathing products, snacks, drinks and fresh fruit & vegetables.
Duty Free Shop JTC
With 20,000 products packed into 1,000 square meters of floor space, this store is a shopaholics paradise. Whether you’re into health foods or liquor, accessories or toys, this is a great place to pick up a treat for yourself and/or gifts to take back home. You will, unfortunately, have to bring a foreign passport to be allowed access, and it is so popular that you will need to reserve an entry slot in advance.
This huge 8 m tall circular aquarium stretches up two stories, and can be viewed freely by visitors. Strange-shaped fish, stingrays and a huge turtle all meander through the dark blue water, which lends the large hall a sense of serenity. Many choose to eat a packed lunch next to the aquarium, keeping these critters company. A float from the children’s Yamakasa is also set up next to the tank, and is worth a look for its detailed decoration. If you’re feeling inspired by the aquarium, there is a pet shop, Aqua Pet Dear, just next door, which sells fish and crustaceans.
A nice point of this shop is that you can buy seasonal souvenirs at any time of year. They always, for example, have a selection of furin on offer; these ceramic windchimes are usually sold and displayed during the summer, but they can make great decorations all year round for those who refuse to be confined by the seasons. Every windchime they sell is handmade and therefore makes a slightly different sound when rung. All the items are made by one man, Kamamoto-san, in Saga Prefecture, and they are made in two main styles: Imari-yaki (introduced by Korean potters at the beginning of the Edo period) and Karatsu-yaki (the most-commonly produced type of pottery in western Japan). This ceramics shop is very popular amongst tourists for omiyage (souvenirs), and there are products available at a range of prices.
Wangan Ichiba & Hakata Toyoichi
Wangan Ichiba is a supermarket within Bayside which sells a huge variety of fresh fish and sushi. You can buy whole fish, octopuses, or shrimp from the tanks, or opt for a pick ‘n’ mix sushi box (pack a plastic container full of your favourite sushi for only ¥97 a piece). All the fish used have been transported to the shop fresh that morning from Goto Island and Iki Island, making it some of the freshest sushi in Fukuoka. You can either take this sushi away, or eat it in the adjacent restaurant, Hakata Toyoichi. This restaurant also serves meal sets, and we recommend the kaisendon set (a variety of sashimi served on a bed of rice, with a huge bowl of miso soup made from ara fish, ¥880), their most popular option. With it is served a delicious shoyu for dipping, the recipe of which is a closely guarded secret. For those who haven’t yet mastered the gastral courage required for sushi, they also serve tasty tempura (deep-fried fish and vegetables, ¥800). All their dishes use fresh fish from the adjacent market, and you can really taste the freshness. This is a great lunch place, but it can get very busy, so either plan for an early lunch or be prepared to wait. Chinese speaking staff are available.
Whether your little monster prefers dolls, slides, wendy houses or (gasp) educational toys, there’s something for everyone at this children’s activity centre. The pièce de résistance is the large inflatable running tracks, where tiny Usain Bolts can indulge their need for speed without injuring themselves.
Child: ¥800, Adult: ¥200 (+¥200 registration fee per family for first-time visitors)
Weekdays: 10:00~18:00. Sat., Sun. and Hol.: 10:00~19:00
Lovers of Alice in Wonderland will enjoy a zany meal at this themed restaurant. This is the perfect place to bring the kids, as they serve many of their dishes in a cutesy manner, such as in a plastic train set which gently puffs out steam, or on a small ferris wheel. The restaurant has a small stage where waitresses/performers perform readings from Alice in wonderland, and all the staff dress up as characters from the book. If your special little guy or gal has a birthday coming up, they can whip up a party with special performances, cake, ring toss, colouring and a make your own candy floss machine. This is a colourfully decorated place with lots of attention to detail; definitely worth a trip down the rabbit hole!
Furusato Kyushu Mura
This omiyage store sells specialties from all over Kyushu. One Fukuoka speciality you can get here which isn’t so common elsewhere is shio tomatoes (salty dried tomatoes).
Alice in Baysideland
This somewhat adorable train takes passengers (max. 50) from Bayside Place to the Hakata Port International Terminal and back again, stopping at the Events Yard. This service is free but operation hours are quite irregular, so you’ll need to check the timetable while you’re there (or if you can read Japanese, check this page: http://www.baysideplace.jp/roadtrain/); but in general it will be running every half hour or so on Sundays and holidays.
Resident Beckhams and Rooneys might like to know about Runbretta. A soccer park you can rent out for games. It’s inexpensive, and you can rent shoes for just ¥500. Runbretta also runs a soccer school on the site, for which you can book a place on their website:
Address: 13-6 Chikkohonmachi, Hakata-ku
Tel.: 092-281-7701 (Bayside Place, manned 10:00~18:00)
No.90 bus from Tenjin (15 min.), no.99 or no.88 from Hakata Sta. (20 min.)
Taxi from Tenjin takes 5 min. when there is no traffic (around ¥800)