Fukuoka is quite the charming city and when I applied to JET, Fukuoka was my first choice. I heard it was a trendy city for the young and I wanted a part of the fast paced lifestyle much like Chicago. As you all know, I was placed on Okinawa instead, but that still doesn’t keep me from seeing mainland Japan. As I expected, Fukuoka charmed me and it’ll charm you too.
1. Ramen and Pancakes
Check out the Hakata station. There’s eight floors (plus an underground). On the top two floors, you’ll find an assortment of foods from Mexican to Korean. Fukuoka is known for its ramen. I chose the spicy one (what a better way to keep warm than put a little spice in your life)? It was delicious and what makes the ramen here so special is that it has bits of pork that compliment the thick broth.There is a French pancake shop where I had the best banana caramel ice cream pancakes ever. The Japanese have perfected food porn and made it so lovely. Luckily, this plate is as good as it looks.
As one of the major cities and destinations of Japan, Fukuoka has a dome big enough to hold large events. I saw Big Bang and there was enough room for all the fans to fangirl really hard for their favorite member. I love you, TOP oppa!
3. The Winter Weather
One of the main complaints of Chicago is how windy it is. The cold won’t get you, but the wind will cut right through you. Since Fukuoka is located on the coast, the chilly breeze from the ocean tickles your bones. While some people can’t handle it, I felt at home. When you’re cold all you have to do is put on more layers. Which brings me to my next point.
Coming from a cold place, I don’t sweat my ass off for nine months out of the year like I do in Okinawa. Colder weather means wearing more clothing and accessories is comfortable. I was able to wear shorts, tights, and blazers more comfortably. While Okinawa does drop down to the 50s, the humid weather makes it impossible to ever be truly comfortable.
Big cities = more fashionable. Some of the best fashion I’ve seen has been on Michigan Avenue, Fukuoka, and Shibuya. When you travel to Fukuoka, go all out. Be fashionable, be cute. People watch for inspiration.
5. They Love Korea
What a coincidence! Fukuoka, I love Korea just as much as you do! In the underground at Hakata station, I found Etude House. Korean beauty products are moving up in the world because they’re so international. Most of the products from Etude are printed in English so you can read the ingredients. This is a giant contrast from Japanese products who aren’t so international and don’t bother to translate their products and sell them to foreigners.
In addition, I went to this Korean Dining and Bar. They had food like Bulgogi. While the food will not be served with the side dishes like Korea, it’s still delicious… and the best part. The Korean waiter there was awesomely hot and could speak English and Japanese. Yes, please.
6. People are friendly
While I was shopping at Etude House, a friendly girl came up and started speaking to me in Japanese. People in Fukuoka tend to speak more quickly than they do in Okinawa. Realizing I didn’t understand her, she spoke to me in English and I found out she lived in Okinawa for quite some time!
I learned Fukuoka has their own dialect that makes the women sound super cute when they speak. While Hakata ben is adorable, I think the Okinawan dialect is friendlier.
Have you guys ever been to Fukuoka? Would you want to travel there? Let me know!