Edited by Matthew Wears
Choosing the right area to stay in Kyushu’s largest city can sometimes be a difficult task. I think it’s difficult to know where to stay in Fukuoka because there are just so many different neighborhoods, each of them with a distinctly unique feel. There are very traditional Japanese neighborhoods like Nishijin, and much more modern Fukuoka neighborhoods like Hakata or Tenjin. The first thing to decide when you’re wondering where to stay is to figure out what to do in Fukuoka, and choose your neighborhood based on this. I live just outside of Fukuoka in a city called Itoshima, but I’ve lived and worked in Fukuoka many times as a performance artist, so I know my way around the city very well. I’ve explored most parts of the city at one time or another, and drank coffee in pretty much every neighborhood there is! I hope that I can make your journey a little bit easier, and help you find the best neighborhood to stay in Fukuoka for you.
Hakata-Ku is the heart of Fukuoka, and where most journeys begin. This is the most popular of all the Fukuoka neighborhoods, and it’s where you will find all of the biggest shopping malls and most of the really good food as well. Hakata Station is so huge that it’s one of the biggest in Japan – it’s got many restaurants and shops, as well as a cinema built inside it too. There is also the Sumiyoshi Taisha shrine that you should definitely go to as well. This is the most important shrine of this kind in the whole of Japan, so it’s kind of like a must see when you’re in Fukuoka. If you’re looking for where to stay in Fukuoka that has many things happening all of the time, then I think Hakata-Ku should be your chosen place. There some nice guesthouses and hotels here too at every price range you could possibly want. Like many places in the center, you won’t get that really authentic experience, but it’s the best option if you want to be close to everything.
Itoshima is not one of the Fukuoka neighborhoods, it’s actually another city on Kyushu island just to the west of Fukuoka. I’m including it here though because it’s not very far to travel between the two cities, and it’s also where I am from, so I have to have it on my list! Itoshima is not very popular with tourists, which I think is sad because it is such an amazing place. The natural areas surrounding the city are also very beautiful, so if you enjoy being outdoors you should definitely stay in Itoshima. You have the coastline which is very good for surfing, but there are also many hills nearby that are very good for hiking. The accommodation options here are very different to Fukuoka. In Itoshima there is much more space, so you are more than likely to get a spacious room with a small garden area. The rooms here tend to be quite traditional too, so it’s a good option if you’d like something with a little more character.
When people look up where to stay in Fukuoka, they will probably find Tenjin first. Just like Hakata, Tenjin another of the most popular neighborhoods in the city. It’s very famous for shopping, good food and many options for entertainment, especially at night time. For some really high energy clubs and lots of unique bars, go to a street called Oyafuku-dori. The name sort of translates to ‘Disrespectful Child Street’ - and it is called this because of the large number of young people that come here to party. Tenjin is also right in the center of Fukuoka, so it can be very useful if you want to be close to most of the main tourist attractions. In Tenjin you will find every kind of accommodation you can think of at every price possible. It will mainly be huge hotels though, so if you want somewhere with a bit more character, then you should stay in Nishijin or Yakuin.
Nakasu Kawabata Station Area
Hakasu Kawabata is actually part of the Hakata-Ku district, even though I think it feels a little bit different. I’d say it’s the best area to stay in Fukuoka for sight-seeing, because there are many important historical attractions here. There’s the Kushida Shrine which is probably the most important shrine in the whole of Fukuoka. It is a very old temple that has many beautiful spots to come and spend some time finding your inner zen. You could also walk through the Kawabata Shopping Arcade – it’s the oldest shopping street in the area and it should have lots of little gifts for you to take home with you. Just like Hakata-Ku, you’ll find many guesthouses and hotels around Nakasu Kawabata Station. Most of them will be the standard huge hotels, but they’re really good if you want to save some money on your travels.
Yakuin Station Area
If you’d like to experience the young and cool side of Fukuoka, you should definitely stay around Yakuin Station. Out of all of the Fukuoka neighborhoods, Yakuin is where you’ll find the most stylish coffee places, interesting little shops, as well as lots of art studios and creative spaces too. We don’t really use the word hipster here in Japan, but if we did, then this would probably be the hipster part of the city. Even if you don’t stay here, I think you should still try to spend a day here, because it is one of the most exciting places to visit in Fukuoka. You can find many of Fukuoka’s coolest Airbnbs in Yakuin as well. Because it is quite young part of the city, you will also get quite a lot of hostels around here – so if you’re looking for somewhere less expensive to stay, this should be it.
Ropponmatsu Station Area
To take a break from the city center, you could always stay around Ropponmatsu Station. You’ll feel like you’re in your own little quiet part of the city, but you’re actually just five stops away from Tenjin on the Nanakuma underground line. This is the best area to stay in Fukuoka if you want to visit the famous City Science Museum. There are many interesting things to see in here, although I think the huge planetarium is probably the most impressive thing! You will also find Ohori Park nearby, which is a very beautiful green area of the city that’s one of the biggest in Fukuoka. The Fukuoka Art Museum is another must see for your Fukuoka travel guide, especially if you’re interested in seeing Japanese design. There are many Airbnbs in this area that are very modern and cool, so I’d recommend staying in one of these for something a little bit different.
Nishijin Station Area
The Nishijin area is one of the best places to stay in Fukuoka if you want to experience some traditional Japanese shopping. You will mainly find old fashioned shops here, simply because the area has a very long history and culture with being one of the most important shopping districts in Fukuoka. The main street has many interesting shops that can be very cool to visit for tourists. There are authentic Japanese sweet shops, old book shops and of course many places to get some authentic food too. There also won’t be any huge hotels here because it’s a much more traditional part of the city than Hakata or Tenjin. The accommodation will probably be a little bit more basic here, but you’ll find some traditional and quirky guest houses that should give you a little bit more of a true Japanese experience.
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