Japan in the fall has to be seen to be believed. From September to November, parks throughout the country turn from vibrant green to a kaleidoscope of reds, yellows and oranges, and a range of seasonal festivals take to the streets. Fukuoka is no exception to any of this. There are dozens of things to do in Fukuoka in the fall , from scouting out the best Fukuoka fall foliage, to attending harvest moon celebrations and diverse food and drink festivals. Whatever your interests, if you’re wondering what to do in Fukuoka this fall, one of these enticing events and attractions should have you covered!
Hojoya Festival at Hakozaki-gū
If you’re looking for one of the most unusual things to do in Fukuoka in September 2019, then be sure to diarize the 12th to the 18th of September if you’re in town. That’s because it’s time for Chushusai, or, as it’s more popularly known, Hojoya; one of Hakata’s major festivals which has been celebrated for over a thousand years at Hakozaki-gū, a flame red Shinto shrine. This popular fall tradition serves as one of the best ways to welcome the changing of the seasons, but as well as giving thanks for nature’s blessings, during the festival, locals also pray for the spirits of all living beings. Over the course of the seven day festival, a variety of food and drink stands line the path leading up to the shrine, and various festivities keep the area alive throughout the course of the celebration. In line with the Buddhist philosophy, many creatures are also released back into the wild, and it’s one of the more fascinating traditional things to do in Fukuoka in the fall.
Music City Tenjin
Music City Tenjin is Kyushu island’s biggest festival which takes place in late September each year, and turns the whole of the city into one big festival venue! Throughout the course of the event, over seventy artists will take to nine different stages across the city. Many of the performances are at indoor venues, but there are also great outdoor concerts that take advantage of the mild Fukuoka weather at this time of the year. The 2019 version will take place on the 28th and 28th of September, and even if you’ve never heard of the artists, it would be impossible not to be swept up in the festivities.
Nakasu Festival is a long-standing tradition in Fukuoka. Over the course of two days in late October, more than 500 women take to the streets wearing traditional Japanese coats called happi and carrying traditional Japanese floats. Nakasu is the heart of Fukuoka’s entertainment district; a small island in the middle of the canal where come nightfall the bright lights glitter on the water and hundreds of yatai food traders take to the streets. But during the festival, even more of a buzzing atmosphere descends thanks to the teams of women parading their floats through the main streets, as well as the dance performances, karaoke and dance contests which take place! Restaurants also get in on the action over the course of the festival, and there’s also an open-air venue where vendors set up food stalls, and performers take to the stages to entertain the crowds. It’s an exhilarating event that can last into the late hours of the night, and is one of the most popular things to do in Fukuoka in October.
Ohori Park is one of the biggest parks in Fukuoka, and is the perfect spot to experience some peace and quiet while in Japan in the fall. You’ll find it in Chuo district, and given its size it’s often possible to find an isolated corner surrounded by fall colors, all to yourself. This is the city’s best viewing spot if you’re looking to see the Fukuoka fall foliage in all its glory. It’s also a great place to visit in the fall with the whole family - there’s a playground, Japanese garden, theatre showcasing traditional arts, a boathouse, and even a museum. Best of all, there’s no charge to enter the park. If you can, pick up some traditional fall street food to enjoy on the way too, like roasted sweet potatoes or kuri-manju, a sweet cake stuffed with chestnuts or chestnut paste.
Akizuki Castle Ruins
Akizuki Castle was built in 1623, following which it became the official residence of Akizuki’s feudal lords. Although small, the castle occupies a special place in Fukuoka throughout the year, and it’s a particularly special attraction to visit during Japan fall season. That’s because the large maple trees that surround the ruins are among the most dramatic in the city come autumn, and it’s a tranquil place to visit with the whole family, as part of a busy full day in Fukuoka. Add this to your list if you’re scouting out the best Fukuoka fall foliage! It’s a little outside of the city though, so the best way to reach it is to take the JR Kagoshima Line from Hakata Station to Kiyama Station and change to the Amagi Railway to get to Amagi Station, where you can then hop on a bus for the last part of the journey.
If you’re interested in combining both history, modern day entertainment, and timeless scenic beauty, then head to the small town of Dazaifu. This was once the political and administrative centre of the island of Kyushu, but is much more peaceful than its neighbor, and is one of the most popular day trips to take from Fukuoka. There are countless shrines and temples to discover here, but the Dazaifu Tenmangū shrine is one of the most important, and one of the most spectacular in the fall. The shrine is surrounded by plum trees, which turn beautiful shades in the fall, making it popular not only with the students who come here to pray for academic success, but with anyone looking for the best Fukuoka fall foliage. If you’re wondering what to do in Fukuoka this fall for the whole family, a trip to Dazaifu may just be the answer. To get here, take the train from Nishitetsu Fukuoka Station to Nishitetsu Futsukaichi Station, then change to the Dazaifu Line that goes straight to Dazaifu Station. The journey takes around 45 minutes, and costs 400 yen.
Photo Credit: http://www.fukuoka-marathon.com/en/map.html
If you’re looking for unusual things to do in Fukuoka in November, then sign up for the Fukuoka Marathon. It takes place on the 10th of November in 2019, and it’s easily the best way for running fans to experience the city’s best sights. The route takes runners through the heart of the city, with groups starting either in Heiwadi Stadium or nearby Ohori Park. Along the way you’ll get to see some of the city’s best fall colors, and take in the cheers from fans who line the streets to urge the runners on. Or if running a marathon sounds a bit much, stick to grabbing some food from a yatai food stall and soaking up the atmosphere from the sidelines instead.
Fall Leaf Viewing in Yusentei Park
Although Japan fall season spans the full months of September, October and November, the best time for viewing the changing leaves is generally in November. There are dozens of parks and open spaces in the city and its surrounds in which to view the changing leaves, but come November you’ll want to visit Yusentei Park at least once. There you’ll find some of the very best of Fukuoka fall foliage.
Grand Sumo Tournament
Fukuoka hosts one of Japan’s biggest annual sumo tournaments, known locally as honbasho. This event in Fukuoka takes place in November each year, and it’s an amazing opportunity to experience this dramatic event in person. You can purchase tickets online ahead of time, and although the matches are broadcast on national television nothing can beat being there in person. There are also food stands at the venue, and it’s possible to spend several hours there during the day soaking up the atmosphere. If you’re not concerned with seeing the big names or grand finale, book your tickets for the quieter mid-week matchups.
Yanagawa River Boat Tour
If you’re interested in experiencing Fukuoka’s fall foliage from a unique vantage point, take a boat tour along the Yanagawa River during fall. Although originally built as a moat, Yanagawa River now hosts several pedal boat excursions perfect for whiling away a few hours. During the fall it’s also possible to take a nighttime boat cruise that takes full advantage of the large equinox moon. It’s a fantastic way to experience a slower pace while in the city over fall.
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