Fukuoka sits on the northern shore of Kyushu island in Japan, with the sea to the north and mountains surrounding the other 3 sides of the city. Fukuoka has a major industrial area and is one of Japan’s ten most populous cities.
The area’s climate is humid subtropical with hot wet summers and fairly mild winters that rarely see snow or temperatures below freezing. Annual rainfall reaches about 63 inches with the wettest period from June to September. Typhoon season runs through August and September. Spring is generally warm and sunny and fall (beyond September) mild and dry. Japanese money is the yen, and it is over 100 yen to one US dollar.
Because of its proximity, Hakata was historically important for contacts with the mainland. Some unwanted – like Mongol invasions. In 1268 Kublai Khan of the Mongol Empire started sending envoys to Japan who continuously refused to accept Mongol rule. The mongol ruler’s invading force of 1274 was thwarted by severe storms and their own incompetence. Mongolian emissaries sent in 1279 as an envoy were not only refused, but beheaded, spurring another attack in 1281. Outnumbered by more than 3 times, the Japanese defenders were no match for the invading Mongols. The Mongol army made it 9 miles on land before severe weather again thwarted their efforts. This typhoon was later referred to as the Kamikaze (divine wind) and is the origin of the name of the World War II suicide attackers.
The historic port remains busy in modern times. Besides the thriving container ship port, they have quite a lot of visits from cruise ships heading for Busan, South Korea which at 200 kilometers away is closer than Tokyo, or Shanghai, China 900 kilometers distant.
There’s a bit of everything in Fukuoka for tourists from beaches to modern shopping malls to ancient temples, a wooden Buddha, and even the ruins of a castle. None of it is right at the port.
Hakata Cruise Port
Hakata and Fukuoka once were separate cities, but have joined into one city now. Though the city as a whole is called Fukuoka, the port district is still referred to as Hakata.
Ships visiting Fukuoka dock at either Fukuoka Chuo Wharf or Fukuoka Hakozki Wharf. Chuo has 2 berths for cruise ships and is where the majority of them dock. Hakozki has one berth where cruise ships can dock. It is the biggest wharf and mainly used for cargo ships. Freight from there can easily be moved by rail, air, or highway as all are nearby.
Passengers are not near town at either wharf. Chuo is 4 kilometers from the downtown area or railway station at Tenjin or Hakata Station which is a major transportation hub. Hakozki is even farther at 5 k away. The closest attraction to Chuo Wharf is Bayside Place, 2.1 kilometers away where the ferries dock. Besides ferries, Hakata Tower, a museum, a shrine, food, lots of shops, and an aquarium it has things to do like harbor cruises and a nightly laser show.
The Holland America Westerdam docked at Chuo Wharf. Other than a grocery type store there isn’t much but industrial buildings near the ship. We looked out onto a container port from the ship. The port provided free shuttle service to City Hall, which is in a downtown area with lots of shopping and just a few blocks from Tenjin subway station. People wishing to take the bullet train to Nagasaki or elsewhere were advised by the shore planning staff to take a taxi to Hakata station.
The port had free wifi and a visitor’s information desk with maps and people to answer questions and give advice on how to get places. It also had a long above ground tunnel sort of thing to walk through before getting to the port building, which did provide a wind break for an otherwise windy walk between the ship and the building.
Things to do in Fukuoka
If you take the shuttle to City Hall, the Tenjin area nearby has lots of shopping as well as food, a shrine, and a park. Fukuoka is famous for its ramen and has lots of places to eat it. With the subway station just a few blocks away people can also explore other areas on their own. Fukuoka has over 3000 shrines and plenty of museums. Ohori park is just a couple subway stops away and has gardens and a lake. The park is next to the castle ruins.
If you’re into robots you can interact with them in Robosquare at the city science museum near Ropponmatsu station, about 8k from Chuo wharf. You can get there by bus from Tenjin station. The museum is just a few blocks from Momochi Seaside Park, a kilometer long manmade beach near Fukuoka Tower.
Canal City is a popular large shopping mall complete with a canal and fountain shows.
Shore Excursions in Fukuoka
One of the shore excursions offered from our ship included a bullet train ride to Kokura Castle, and viewing of a tea ceremony plus a view of Yahata Imperial Steel Works and tech industry gallery. Another visited 2 shrines and Fukuoka Tower. One had a gondola boat ride, museum, and lunch. Others included sightseeing the town’s highlights by bus or a visit to a shrine.