Tenjin, Hakata Dontaku Festival, Hakata Gion Yamakasa Festival
With a population of 1.5 million, Fukuoka City (Fukuoka is also the name of the surrounding prefecture) is Japan’s 4th largest urban area after Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya. It’s also the largest city on the island of Kyushu and the closest major city to Japan’s neighbours Korea and China.
Fukuoka has of a dual identity. The modern city was formed by a merger of the neighbouring municipalities of Hakata and Fukuoka, so Hakata is still a commonly used alternative name. The major train station in the city is even called Hakata Station.
Along with the usual air, train and bus options, Fukuoka’s proximity to Korea means you can also get here by boat.
The slow ferry to and from Busan is called the Camellia and takes about 6-9 hours. This ferry makes the return trip once a day. The alternative is the faster JR Beetle Jetfoil which makes the trip in 3 hours with departures twice a day. Faster is sometimes cheaper—see prices here.
Hakata Station is connected to the Shinkansen network, so you can use your Japan Rail Pass to get there quickly from Tokyo, Osaka or Hiroshima. You can also book single-use Shinkansen tickets from Tokyo to Fukuoka in advance. From Tokyo, the trip takes just under six hours.
The regular airlines (JAL and ANA) are quite expensive. Low cost carrier Starflyer is better value, but they’re not as cheap as you might expect for a flight of slightly under 2 hours. Starflyer has one-way fares for as low as 12,390yen from Haneda, but you should be prepared to book 28 days in advance and be ready for an early morning flight! From Kansai, the fares are from 12,940yen.