Perhaps the most ubiquitous symbol of Japan’s natural beauty is the cherry blossom. The Sakura Festival, from March to April, is a brief season, but by beginning your tour in Fukuoka city, you can watch the cherry blossoms for a longer period, as its blooming begins on the island of Kyushu. For those looking to catch the start of cherry blossom season, Cebu Pacific (cebupacificair.com) will be offering their new Fukuoka route starting December 17, which allows you to take a direct flight to Kyushu’s most populous and culturally rich city.
Fukuoka, aside from being the liveliest and busiest city on the island, is also a cradle of historical and cultural landmarks best visited during the sakura season, including the Fukuoka Castle Ruins, Fukuoka Art Museum, and the Hakata Machiya Furusato-kan Museum. The city boasts of its Kagomma Furusato Yatai-mura food stalls that offer local dishes like Hakata Ramen, Mentaiko, Motsunabe, and Tetsunabe Gyoza. Like Tokyo and other urbanized Japanese cities, Fukuoka is made easily navigable thanks largely to its train stations and bus lines strategically positioned in key parts of the city.
The comphrensive transportation system and the strategic geographical location allow tourists to experience the finer aspects of Kyushu culture, both within and beyond the city of Fukuoka, from its historical sites to its urban structures, as well as elements that highlight the clear advantages of seaside living, such as hot springs, the rural beaches of Nokonoshima and Shikanoshima, and the shallow waters of Aoshima beach in Miyazaki. If during your trip you feel the need to escape the city’s urban sprawl, the Kumamoto Prefecture is an hour and a half away from Fukuoka, featuring hills and plains best visited during the summer season.
Though Tokyo and Osaka remain, for now, the go-to Japanese cities for the eager traveler, Fukuoka is quickly establishing itself as one of Japan’s finest destinations. And with airlines like Cebu Pacific granting us access to these lesser known pockets of Japan, things are only looking up, both for tourism culture and for the ways we live through travel.