Easy Day Trips From Fukuoka; A North Kyushu Itinerary
If during your holiday in Japan you have a couple of days in Fukuoka; why not go on one of these easy day trips from Fukuoka to some of the more remote hidden parts of the Northern Kyushu. There are lot’s of less touristic things to do in Kyushu; so read on to find out more about the perfect off the beaten track North Kyushu Itinerary on this Japan travel blog guide.
1. Nanzoin Temple Fukuoka
Surprisingly Nanzoin is not a touristic destination at all; so if you love going to more secret places in Japan; you will love this! The temple used to be a Pilgrimage destination; and still is. The massive complex which has lots of hidden back alleys and small statues, has an impressive large Buddha statue, being 41 meters long and 11 meters height. The resting Buddha statue weighs approximately 300 tons.
It’s fairly easy to get to this temple from Fukuoka as it’s located on the JR Sasaguri line. Express trains will take 21 minutes from Hakata Station and local trains only 24 minutes.
2. Karato Market Shimonoseki & Mojiko
Karato is located downtown Shimonoseki and is most know for it’s fresh fish market. The market is famous for it’s blow fish and special ambiance. The giant market hall is filled with vendors; all trying to sell different products; like sushi, whole fishes, drinks, etc.
This is not a wholesale market; meaning you can buy as many pieces (cheap!) as you want and eat them outside Shimonoseki fish market while enjoying the beautiful port.
Check the Karato market website for more info (only in Japanese).
From Karato you can easily take the ferry to Mojiko, a 10 minute ride to the other side of the channel or by train (280 yen). The Moji Port Japan used to be an important international trading port. Even though the port isn’t as popular as it used to be the town has remained the way it used to be and is now know as ‘Mojiko retro town‘. You can spend a good half day in the town; walking around downtown, enjoying the port and it’s red brick buildings, observation deck, music box museum and glass house. Make sure to try the local specialty; grilled curry!
For more info check out the official Japan Tourism Website.
3. Kurokawa Onsen Kumamoto
Kurokawa is a small picturesque town located 20 kilometers north of Mount Aso; famous for it’s beautiful hot springs. This resort type town, has remained quite traditional; as most of the buildings are made out of wood. The town located in a forest valley has a small river flowing through; and small streets filled with public bath houses; cute restaurants and coffee shops.
The attractive town is especially known for it’s outdoor baths; some of them located next to the river; which offers a great view of the valley and forest. Most of the Kurokawa onsen ryokan can be found in the center of the town; whereas the bigger ones are located sightly outside the town within walking distance.
It is possible to stay in town overnight or just pass through for a day. For most baths you pay 200 yen per person (gender segregated) and 100 yen per person (mixed bath); but you can also buy a wooden pass which allow you to visit 3 baths of your choice.
4. Karatsu Castle & Yobuko Morning Market
Karatsu is a coastal town in the Saga prefecture; famous for it’s Karatsu pottery. One of the mosts popular things to do in Karatsu is the Karatsu Castle; with a stunning view on the ocean! The castle was constructed by the Hirotaka order in the early 17th century.
Before going to Karatsu; you should make a stop along the way at Yobuko, a small picturesque rural Japanese town. Famous for it’s morning market and fresh squid offered in sashimi style or eaten when still alive. If you visit on the first Saturday or Sunday of June; you’ll be lucky enough to witness the rope pulling festival. A local event which is a tug-o-war between two parts of the town. Depending on which team wins; there will be a good harvest or a good fishing harvest that year.
To get from Fukuoka to Karatsu; you can take the bus from Hakata station. There are also busses running 2 times an hour between Karatsu and Yobuko; taking 30 minutes, costing 120 yen. More exact bus schedules can be found in Hakata station or Fukuoka Tourist Information Center.
5. Kokura Castle & Japanese Garden
The modern Kitakyushu is the second biggest city in the Fukuoka Perfecture; having just under 1 million inhabitants. One of the most popular things to do in Kitakyushu is visiting the Korura Castle a 10 minute walk from Kokura Station. The castle has this unique ‘Karazuki’ style; which is unique in it’s own way.
Parts of the castle are turned into an exhibition hall presenting the history and stories of wars that this castle experienced. Not far from the castle; you can find a typical Japanese garden with a small pond where you can catch a breath and relax for a bit while being surrounded by graceful landscapes.
You can go from Fukuoka to Kitakyushu by bus or even train.
6. Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine
For more than 500 years dazaifu used to be the administrative center of the whole of Kyushu. But nowadays Dazaifu is a rather small (and touristic) town not far from Fukuoka; making this perfect for a day trip. In the center; you will find the oh-so famous Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine next to some other smaller shrines and the massive Kyushu National Museum.
From Hakata Bus Center and Fukuoka Airport there is a direct bus to Dazaifu; taking around 45 minutes, costs 600 yen. See more info here.
** Personally I found Dazaifu a little bit too touristic for my liking and didn’t stay long in the main shrine and focused more on the museum and visiting the smaller shrines in the country side (using a map I got from the tourist center). **
7. Ureshino Onsen
The Ureshino Onsen is famous for making your skin extra smooth; due to the pure alkaline spring water. On top of that, the onsen also seem to have a therapeutic effect; popular since the Edo period. In Ureshino you can choose between going to one of the Onsen or to a public bath.
The town specialty is Ureshino tofu soup with Ureshino tea, what makes it special is that the tofu is boiled in onsen water. A must try!
As Ureshino is one of the small towns in japan, it has no train station and the bus station lies a 15 minute walk on foot from the city center. From Hakata bus station you can take a bus to Ureshino; which will take just over an hour.
JR North Kyushu Pass Train & Bus
The best way to enjoy you day trips from Fukuoka is by purchasing a train or bus pass; this is a pass specially for foreigners and will save you a lot of money.
The SUNQ Pass is perfect if you want to take the bus around the Provence; as this is a 3-day unlimited bus ride ticket that can be used on almost every highway and local bus within the region. More prices and info here.
If you prefer taking the train; then the JR Kyushu Rail Pass is perfect for you! The pass covers the following areas: local trains, limited express trains and the Shinkansen. More info and prices here.
Make sure to purchase your passes before arriving in Japan!
** During my travels I purchased the bus pass as a lot of more local places I wanted to go to didn’t have train stations. **