Edited by Elodi Troskie
Nights in Fukuoka are laid-back yet charming and atmospheric. If you’re looking for a party scene, rest assured that you’ll find more than enough bars and clubs to keep you entertained, but the real charm of Fukuoka’s nightlife is its never-sleeping culinary scene. Fukuoka is one of the greatest food destinations in Japan, and if you spend a few nights here, you’ll see why! Restaurants stay open until late and dining is an integral part of socializing. Here are my suggestions for the best things to do in Fukuoka at night!
Kickstart your trip to Fukuoka by exploring the city on foot after dark. If you’ve ever visited Tokyo, Fukuoka will be an entirely different Japanese experience and the best way to get to know this city is by jumping right into a sightseeing adventure. I suggest you start at Hakata Station and then go further from there. As the oldest port in Japan, Hakata has features of old town Fukuoka that’ll make you feel as though you’ve been transported to ancient Japan. There are more than 3000 shrines in Fukuoka and countless other cultural landmarks and sites of historical significance, so if Fukuoka’s history and cultures interest you, make sure you include these destinations in your itinerary. For dinner, I’d recommend skipping the restaurants and heading straight for the street food.
My favorite thing about Fukuoka is its incredible food culture. A big part of Fukuoka’s nightlife is centered around food – especially street food. If you visit Fukuoka, you’ll soon learn to love the yatai stalls. Yatai stalls are street food vendors that pop up in the late afternoon and stay open until late at night. I’d recommend visitors to eat at yatai stalls because it’s a great, very affordable way to experience the variety of Fukuoka’s food. A few must-try street foods in Fukuoka are yakitori (skewers made with meat or vegetables), mizutaki (a soup based hot pot dish), mentaiko (spicy cod roe) and sumiyaki (charcoal barbequed chicken).
If you’re looking for entertainment in Fukuoka at night, Canal City is a great option, especially if you’re traveling with kids. This multifunctional shopping and entertainment complex is located in Hakata and offers more than enough activities to keep the whole family busy. If you’re tired of shopping, you can go to the cinema, visit the amusement arcade or enjoy the live acts by local artists at the outdoor stage. Time for dinner? Head to the fifth floor where you’ll find Ramen Stadium, a culinary heaven featuring all the varieties of ramen in all their glory at bargain prices. A self-hosted ramen tasting in Canal City is a must-do activity in Fukuoka at night.
Being situated near the coast has its perks, especially when it comes to seafood - Fukuoka boasts some of Japan’s best seafood. The best place to eat seafood in Fukuoka is Yamaya, which is one of my favorite restaurants in Fukuoka. They serve good mentaiko (a spicy pollock roe dish that originated in Korea), so if you want to try this seafood dish, Yamaya is the perfect place. Of course, Japan doesn’t play around when it comes to sushi, so if sushi is one of your guilty pleasures, prepare to indulge in Fukuoka!
Yanagawa River Night Cruise
The Yanagawa River is one of the most beautiful places in Fukuoka, especially during spring. The river flows through and around the charming little town of Yanagawa. The small boats cruising down the river throughout the day have earned Yanagawa the title of Japan’s own version of Venice. Centuries ago, when the Yanagawa Castle was built, the river served as a safety measure to keep unwanted forces out. Today the river cruises are the coolest way to sightsee this hidden gem in Fukuoka. The cruises depart throughout the day starting at 9 am every morning. The night cruise departs a few times between 5 pm and 7 pm every night and tickets are around 13 000 yen per person. Reservations have to be made in advance for the night cruise.
Karaoke is one of the coolest and most popular nighttime activities in Japan, and Fukuoka doesn’t stray behind. Although there aren’t as many karaoke bars in Fukuoka as in Tokyo, there’s still more than enough to choose from and you’ll find some great places to let loose and sing along to all your favorite songs. One of these is Karaoke Big Echo, located in Hakata. This is by far the biggest karaoke joint in Fukuoka and the accommodating range of price plans makes it a convenient fit for every budget. A top pick for the coolest things to do in Fukuoka at night!
Fukuoka differs from Tokyo in the sense that it’s nightlife doesn’t necessarily revolve that strongly around bars and clubs. But that doesn’t mean there are no bars in Fukuoka! The Nakasu District is a really cool area if you’re looking for Fukuoka’s party scene. The streets of Nakasu are lit up in neon lights and packed with trendy bars. Another great nightlife area in Fukuoka is Ningyo Shoji, a hub of tiny alleyways packed with charming, old-school bars. As tradition in Fukuoka has it, partygoers always head to one of the yatai areas after a night out to feast on some budget-friendly late-night comfort food.
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