There are dozens of reasons to check out Japan’s multi-faceted city of Fukuoka. Here are 10 to get you started
1. Head to the Tenjin area in the evening park yourself at a yatai, a small mobile food stall, and indulge in the ultimate local comfort food — tonkotsu ramen with a thick, white broth made from boiling pork bone.
2. While in Tenjin, end the night with something sweet for dessert at Café del Sol (1-14-45 Daimyo, Chuo-ku; +81 92 725 3773), often listed as one of the city’s best cafés.
3. Need some retail action? Canal City Hakata (Sumiyoshi, Hakata-ku; +81 92 282 2525; canalcity.co.jp) is a massive dining, shopping and entertainment hub with over 200 stores including global Japanese brands such as Sanrio, otherwise known to Hello Kitty fans as heaven, and MUJI, the grand temple of minimalist design.
4. Canal City is also home to fabulous hotels, and if you’re in the mood for a splurge, the Grand Hyatt Fukuoka (1-2-82 Sumiyoshi, Hakata-ku; +81 92 282 1234; fukuoka.grand.hyatt.com) is arguably the city’s best hotel.
5. The observatory deck of the 234m-tall Fukuoka Tower (2-3-26 Momochihama, Sawara-ku; +81 92 823 0234; www.fukuokatower.co.jp/english) in the Momochihama area offers impressive 360-degree views of the city.
6. Locals like to hang out at JR Hakata City (1-1 Hakataekichuogai, Hakata-ku; +81 92 431 8484; www.jrhakatacity.com/english), a complex of shops and restaurants above JR Hakata station. Among the most popular stores is Tokyu Hands, a department store that specializes in crafts and craft-making materials.
7. Take lots of souvenir snaps at Kawabata Shotengai, a shopping street with a year-round yamagasa, an ornate and colorful divine palanquin.
8. November to March is the season for the best oysters at the coastal area of Itoshima. Sample the goods at any of the kakigoya or oyster huts.
9. Space World (4-1-1 Higashida, Yahatahigashi-ku, Kitakyushu; +81 93-672-3600; www.spaceworld.co.jp/english/access), a theme park with many coaster rides, is just an hour away by train from JR Hakata station. Among the highlights at the Space Museum is a stone from the moon, the only lunar stone in Japan.
10. You can’t leave this seaside city without trying out any of the numerous sushi and sashimi restaurants.
Also read: 6 cultural highlights in Fukuoka
This article originally appeared in the November 2015 issue of Smile magazine.