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With two-and-a-half-million people, Kyūshū's largest city (and Japan's sixth-largest) and still growing. Often referred to by its original name Hakata, this sprawling coastal metropolis is bordered on three sides by mountains and dissected by the Naka River, which flows out into the Sea of Genkai. Because of its closeness to the Asian mainland (closer to Seoul than to Tokyo), Fukuoka has been an important harbor city for many centuries and was chosen by the Mongol invasion forces as their landing point in the 13th century.
Today, Fukuoka holds a number of claims to fame. It's the home to Hakata ramen and the 700-year-old Yamakasa festival - which sees teams of men race through the city carrying gigantic floats. More contemporary attractions include the city's art galleries and museums, its immense shopping malls, the bustling Hakata Port, Marine World, and the iconic, tree-covered Acros Fukuoka building - a "center of international, cultural and information exchange."
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Fukuoka is the most populous city in Kyushu, and the sixth most populous in Japan. It is the friendly gateway to Kyūshū.
Japan Travel Specialist
Best Time to Visit Fukuoka
Best time to visit Fukuoka is during summer months as the city reveals its best spirit. The streets of Gion come alive in the first weeks of July with the Hakata Gion Yamakasa Festival. The climax of the festival is a race that takes place on July 15, when seven neighborhoods that make up the Hakata district compete to get their float to the finish line of a 5km course first.
During the summer season, you can also chill out at the Momochihama Beach, near the city center yet offering a glistening piece of the sea, sun and sand. Have lunch at a seaside restaurant here, and hop on a ferry to visit Marine World at Uminonakamichi.
Baseball season is also at its height in the summer, and catching a ball game at the Fukuoka Yahoo Japan Dome at the Momochihama Beach is a great way to spend the day experiencing Japanese baseball and mixing with the locals, and watching them cheering on their local team, the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks.
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Festivals, Events and Seasonal Reasons to Visit
Plum (ume) blossoms, which appear towards the end of the February, are the first sign that winter is ending. Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine is the most famous viewing spot but parks and gardens all over Japan have plum trees.
In early May, Fukuoka makes the most of the good weather by hosting the Hakata Dontaku Festival, rumoured to be Japan’s largest festival.
Sumo comes to town as Fukuoka plays host to the last tournament of the year – the Kyushu Basho – in mid-November. In many ways, the Kyushu Basho is the best sumo tournament to attend.