Solo Traveller's Guide to Fukuoka – Things to do Alone

By Masumi Endo A contemporary jazz dancer who loves to explore Fukuoka’s unique and exciting urban culture.

Edited by Matthew Wears

Travelling to Fukuoka alone can be a very fun experience for a first-time tourist. Here in the south of Japan, we’re all very friendly - so you’ll never feel like you’re travelling on your own. There are also so many Fukuoka attractions that I think can work very well for a solo traveller. The shrines and museums are very good places to learn a little bit more about Kyushu’s history and culture, but our restaurants and yatai are the best for meeting some new friends. This is my Fukuoka solo travel guide, and I will be telling you some of things that you can do in the city on your own, as well as sharing with you my favourite places to eat, and the best neighbourhoods to stay in the city for a solo traveller. I’m from the nearby city of Itoshima, but I have worked many times in Fukuoka. My main profession is a dancer, so there are so many times in between rehearsals and auditions where I find myself alone in the city. So after all of these moments, here’s my guide to what to do in Fukuoka alone.

 

Where to stay

If you want to find out where to stay in Fukuoka, the first place you’ll probably hear about is Hakata - it’s the centre of the city where you’ll find many of the main attractions. Kushida Shrine is probably the most important must see attractions in the city – it is where we hold the famous Hakata Gion Yamakasa festival, during which huge statues are carried through the streets. This is also a very good district for shopping, because there are many big shopping malls, traditional markets and 100 yen shops. A lot of the best Fukuoka restaurants are also in the Hakata neighbourhood. You should definitely try Hakata ramen when you’re here, and you should eat out in a yatai as well for a very authentic Fukuoka experience! There are also many good accommodation options in Hakata for every price range – but it is mostly going to be hotels.

But travelling to Fukuoka alone doesn’t mean that you should stay right in the city itself. I think that Itoshima is a great place to stay, especially if you want to find somewhere that’s a little bit quieter and much less touristy. There are many more guest houses here with lots of Japanese character, rather than huge hotel - perfect for a more traditional experience. There’s also lots of good surfing and hiking here, making a great way for solo travellers to meet locals and fellow visitors. Any Fukuoka solo travel guide should let you know about all of the neighbourhoods outside of the city centre too – there are many of them in Fukuoka! I think for travellers to stay, the Yakuin area is very interesting. This is the cultural centre of the city, so you will get lots of cool art shops and nice little cafes here too. You will also find a good range of Airbnbs here.

 

Things to do

There are many different ways to enjoy Fukuoka and there is so much to do here for travellers. You will find ancient temples, stylish shopping areas and many unique things that are really good for solo travellers. The first thing I will say to you if you want to know what to do in Fukuoka alone, is just talk to the locals. I think we’re the friendliest people in the whole of Japan, so we would always be happy to have a quick conversation with you! Yatai (enclosed food stands unique to Fukuoka) and restaurants in the city centre are the best places to do this, so I would start here if you want to mix with other people. Also, in the city centre you will find many interesting shrines to visit – such as Kushida which I have already mentioned. But I would also recommend you see one, although it is a little bit outside of the city centre. It is called the Dazaifu Tenmangū and it features one of the most beautiful bridges in all of Japan.

If you want to do something to connect with the local people, you should definitely try going to a zen meditation class at the Ryuukoiji Temple in Itoshima. These are held every Saturday night at seven o’clock for anyone that wants to relax a little bit after a busy day of sightseeing – I would really recommend it! One of my favourite Fukuoka attractions that is a little bit of a hidden gem is the Fukuoka Oriental Ceramic Museum. Did you know the island of Kyushi is one of the most famous places in the whole of Japan for its beautiful pottery? So this museum is a great one to come to if you want to learn about an important part of the Fukuoka culture. Another part of our culture is obviously food, so you should go to the Fukuoka Soy Sauce Brewing Cooperation if you can. You get a very interesting tour of a working factory and it’s completely free.

 

 

One of the best day trips from Fukuoka is my hometown Itoshima city, where we have what is known as a radon onsen - onsen are hot springs, but this type features a kind of weak radiation that is very healthy for the human body. Onsen are a really good way of meeting local people and because they are very rare in Japan, it should be a must see for any solo traveller. I’d recommend Nijo Onsen. In Itoshima you will also find some really beautiful beaches as well. I’ve already talked about the surfing and paddle boarding here, but you don’t have to go in the water to enjoy it. I go down to the beach almost every night just to watch the sun set over the city – it’s a very special sight! Fukuoka is also very well connected to the rest of Japan, so you can easily have a day trip somewhere further like Hiroshima.

 

What to eat

One of the best Fukuoka attractions should definitely be all of the amazing food that we have here. The city is very unique, because it has different flavours that are influenced by nearby China and South Korea. Ramen noodles were one of the most famous dishes that we borrowed from China, so you have to try the famous Hakata ramen when you’re in Fukuoka. The best place to get this for a solo traveller is probably the Ichiran restaurant. You will sit in a small box on your own and the ramen will be passed through a door in front of you for you to enjoy. This is meant to help you focus more on the taste of the ramen without any distractions. Something else that you probably wouldn’t think to eat in Japan is bread - but we do have it! There is a bread shop called Konjyo in Itoshima which serves very delicate European pastries and Japanese breads. It is so simply designed inside with lots of concrete - I love getting a coffee and finding some inspiration here.

 

 

I sometimes think this kind of eating isn’t very sociable though, so for that you should definitely try one of the city’s famous yatai. This should be part of everyone’s Fukuoka solo travel itinerary – it’s such small little space that you can’ help but talk to other people. You can get many different kinds of food here, so they’re very good for trying new things. You can get the basic ramen and soba noodles, but you will also be able to find some Fukuoka specialities like sashimi and mentaiko as well. The squid sashimi is one of my favourites, so you should definitely try it if you can. Another dish to eat in Fukuoka is yakitori - small items that are put on to little skewers which are grilled. You can find yakitori stalls all across Fukuoka, but my cousin owns one called Kofuku in Itoshima - and it is the best in Japan for me, not that I’m biased!

Tips

So, is Fukuoka safe to travel alone? Yes – of course it is! Japan has a very low crime rate and we very rarely have bad neighbourhoods. Fukuoka is exactly the same, so do not worry about walking home at night or staying out of certain areas because you will be fine. One of my tips for travel is to stay away from the buses, they can be very confusing for tourists I think. In Fukuoka, most people travel by train around the city. It is very easy and you can get everywhere in the city in such a small amount of time. I would recommend getting a tourist travel pass which allows you to get unlimited travel on busses, trains and subways for a whole day. You will be able to go all over the city with this, along with some other places nearby like Itoshima or Saga.

 

 

 

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