Fukuoka For Foreigners
January 16, 2007 4:58 PM   Subscribe

Any advice for places to eat and/or things to see in Fukuoka, Japan?

I will be heading there with some friends this weekend to see Calexico and Iron & Wine. I'm looking for things to only up the coolness of the trip. Any suggestions for places to eat or things to do after the show or the next day would be greatly appreciated. Extra points if they are near the concert venue, The Soul Bird.
posted by vagabond to Travel & Transportation around Fukuoka, Japan (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I have been to Fukuoka/Hakata several times and I can report that there isn't a ton to do that you can't do elsewhere in Japan. The festivals are pretty awesome, but I would imagine that you'll miss the big ones.

However, Fukuoka is a great place to shop/do regular Japanese killing time activities. The Grand Hyatt/Canal City has a really big complex of shops and restaurants that are pretty spectacular. I recall one of the restaurants had a pretty good all you can drink/all the shyabu-shyabu you can eat deal. Due to drunkeness I don't recall the exact cost. If shopping isn't a good way to waste time for you there is an arcade and a movie theater.
posted by Alison at 7:24 PM on January 16, 2007

Here's Wikitravel's blurb on Fukuoka. Also check out this page from the local Fukuoka JET group. I've never been myself, but in terms of food, here's a few things you should try:

- Tonkotsu (pork bone base) ramen, preferably from a stall in Tenjin or along the Nakagawa river.
- Tetsunabe gyoza (pan-cooked dumplings). The style I've seen the most often is about 15-20 gyoza cooked in a circular, deep-dish pan until it forms a kind of crispy disc.
- Mentaiko (spicy cod roe). It's an acquired taste, but give it a shot.
posted by armage at 7:28 PM on January 16, 2007

Best answer: I lived two hours away from fukuoka in yamaguchi prefecture for two years, and would go there about once a month--I really love that city!
*definitely try the tonkotsu ramen--the stalls by the nakagawa are a really good experience with a great view (and are open late), but I also like the "ramen stadium" on the top floor of canal city mall. the stadium has a lot of little restaurants that specialize in different ramens from all over the country--I think there are english pamphlets available to choose which one to try. on the first floor of canal city there is a very posh ramen restaurant that has you fill out a sheet (english available) specifying exactly how much to cook your noodles, how much garlic you like, whether you like spice etc. you will have to wait in a long line and will probably be seperated from your friends for that one, but your soup will be perfect.
*the shopping is very good. canal city is okay, but the more unique shops can be found in tenjin and the area around oyafuko-dori. if you are interested in alternative japanese fashion, such as the gothic lolita style, check out the bottom floors of the "tenjin core" building for interesting shops and even more interesting patrons. from that same floor you can access the underground shopping area (chikagai) that connects the buildings up above (useful for rainy, cold days). "oyafuko-dori" literally means something like "the street that will make parents cry," and is where you can find all the hip young college kids rifling through second hand shops, buying music, eating organic vegetarian dishes in independent cafes and spending all their money at trendy boutiques. it is also where you will find dance clubs and bars open into the wee hours if you are interested in some nightlife.
*one of the most interesting things I did in fukuoka was visit a maid cafe somewhere around tenjin (sorry I don't remember exactly where). it's a distinctly japanese experience, and seeing the otaku who come there is just as interesting as seeing the waitstaff. highly recommended.
*I don't know what your situation is, but I was living in a much smaller city in japan, so fukuoka was a great place for me to get some foreign foods I had been missing (around oyafuko-dori) and visit the english bookshop (kinokuniya in tenjin core).
*check out fukuoka now for current info, and stop by the tourist counter in hakata station for a walking map and advice from the staff.

if you have any more questions, let me know! I'm going through a sorry state of reverse culture shock right now and wish I could go there with you... have fun! tanoshinde, ne!
posted by ialwayscryatendings at 1:20 AM on January 17, 2007

Best answer: I'm currently living in Fukuoka prefecture, but sadly out in the inaka on the other side of the prefecture near Oita. Fukuoka/Hakata is a lot of fun though. Like everyone already said, they are famous for Hakata ramen (pork flavored), and those Yatai stands (street food vendors) around Tenjin, Nakasu, and Nagahama-Dori.

Tenjin is probably the funnest place to people watch and walk around.

If you want some funnier novelty type places - there is a place in Tenjin called "The Lock Up" - one of those dungeon/prison theme restaurants where you eat in a dark cell. There's also another novelty place (a city wide chain actually) called Zauo where you can catch (then eat) your own fish in an indoor fishing pond. Oh, and there's a place between Tenjin and Canal City (closer to Canal City) called "The Cotton Field" that is decked out in stars'n'bars, Elvis, and cowboy decor and serves Ribs (and a decent selection of imported beers) - that place could never fly in the states ;)

There's also a good Sri-Lankan place above KFC in Tenjin, and a pretty good Italian place on the 6th or 7th floor of the Apple store in Tenjin.
posted by p3t3 at 4:50 AM on January 17, 2007

Here's more information on Ichiran, the ramen chain based in Fukuoka. I've eaten at the Shibuya branch -- it's an interesting experience when compared to eating at a normal ramen restaurant.
posted by armage at 8:51 AM on January 17, 2007

If you are adventurous with food, sushi shops on the island of Kyushu (were Fukuoka is located) are famous for Basashi (raw horse sushi).

p3t3: I'm currently living in Fukuoka prefecture, but sadly out in the inaka on the other side of the prefecture near Oita

There's some beautiful mountains and countryside out in that area.
posted by jsonic at 9:46 AM on January 17, 2007

Agreed; definitely some beautiful countryside out here. I'm living about 1 km from the seaside, and there are onsens everywhere too ;) So I can't complain too much.

Also to the OP - if you want to check out some of the shrines and temples, there are quite a few not far from Hakata station, near the Gion subway stop. One of them is the oldest for one of the Zen sects.
posted by p3t3 at 10:11 PM on January 17, 2007

Response by poster: Just wanted to thank everyone for their tips. My time there was too short, so I look forward to returning to Fukouka again sometime.

p3t3 - The Shi-Lankan place was a highlight. I can almost still taste that curry.
posted by vagabond at 11:21 PM on January 19, 2007

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