global tourism

A guide to visiting Fukuoka and Nagasaki – cheaper alternatives to Tokyo with tons of history

Joshua Berida
A guide to visiting Fukuoka and Nagasaki – cheaper alternatives to Tokyo with tons of history
Nagasaki was one of two Japanese cities that felt the destructive power of the atomic bomb

If you’re interested to visit different cities in Japan (other than Tokyo and Osaka), you might want to book a flight to Kyushu. This article covers two cities in Kyushu, Fukuoka and Nagasaki. Fukuoka is the largest city in Kyushu and has been a major port city for centuries. It used to be two different cities, which were Fukuoka and Hakata. Both cities became just “Fukuoka” in 1889. Nagasaki was one of two Japanese cities that felt the destructive power of the atomic bomb. The city is much like Fukuoka where foreign trade took place in its ports over the centuries. 

Getting a visa

Filipinos will need to acquire a visa first before traveling to Japan. These are some of the basic requirements:

  • Passport
  • Filled out application form with a photo attached
  • PSA issued birth certificate
  • PSA issued marriage certificate (for married applicants)
  • Itinerary
  • Bank certificate
  • Copy of income tax return

You can also view the list of complete requirements here.

After gathering the required documents, submit your application through an accredited travel agency. Here’s a list.

You can also get more information by checking out the Embassy of Japan’s website.

Getting into Fukuoka

Fukuoka has its own international airport. You can easily reach this city by plane from Metro Manila. Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines have regular flights to Fukuoka. Buy tickets weeks or several months before your trip to get the lowest possible prices.

Get out of the airport

Fukuoka Airport is centrally located near the city center. It’s easy to get in and out of the airport. From the international terminal, you can board one of the Nishitetsu Buses bound for Hakata Station. The trip takes around 15 minutes, and the fare is JPY270. You can also take the subway, but you’ll have to take the free shuttle to the domestic terminal. Once you’re in the domestic terminal, look for the subway station. The fare bound for Hakata or Tenjin Station is JPY260. 

Get around Fukuoka

Like any other city in Japan, Fukuoka provides visitors with convenient and efficient public transportation. Hakata is the city’s main station and connects Fukuoka to other cities in Kyushu (including Nagasaki). The Canal City Line Bus is a convenient way to get around the city center. The fare is JPY150 per ride. 

The subway is also an option when you want to get around the city quickly. It’s easier to navigate compared to the labyrinthine stations in Tokyo. Prepaid cards such as Hayakaken, Nimoca, and Sugoca are available at stations. If you already bought a card from a previous trip to Japan, you can use Suica, Pasmo, and Icoca cards while in Fukuoka. A 1-Day Subway Pass is also available for JPY640 and is valid for one calendar day. You can purchase these from vending machines. You can also buy a Fukuoka Tourist City Pass for JPY1,500 or JPY1,820. The cheaper version is only valid in the city while the more expensive one extends the scope to Dazaifu, a famous destination.

How to get to Nagasaki

Unless you have a Japan Rail Pass or Kyushu Rail Pass, the cheapest way to reach Nagasaki is by bus. Nishitetsu is the main company plying the route between Hakata or Tenjin to Nagasaki. The fare is around JPY2,900 and takes approximately 2.5 hours one way.

*I would only recommend a rail pass if you’re traveling to other cities aside from Nagasaki and Fukuoka. 

Get around Nagasaki

It’s easy to explore Nagasaki on foot or by tram since most tourist attractions are near each other. A tram ride costs JPY140. You can purchase a 1-day pass for JPY600. 


This itinerary combines Fukuoka and Nagasaki in one trip. It also assumes you start with one full day.

Day 1

Fukuoka Castle Ruins. Photo by Joshua Berida/Rappler

For your first full day in Fukuoka, head on over to Maizuru Park to explore the Fukuoka Castle Ruins. Fukuoka Castle used to be the biggest in Kyushu during feudal times in Japan. Kuroda Nagamasa had it built during the 17th century. However, during the Meiji Restoration, it was almost destroyed. Fast forward to today, you’ll only see vestiges of its former glory in ruined walls and towers. You’ll have to use your imagination to visualize the castle based on what’s left of it. The best times to visit the park and castle ruins are during the cherry blossom season in spring and in autumn for the colorful foliage. 

Dazaifu. Photo by Joshua Berida/Rappler

After exploring Fukuoka Castle ruins, make your way to Dazaifu in Fukuoka’s outskirts. You can eat lunch in Dazaifu before visiting its attractions. Dazaifu is historically significant as it was Kysushu’s administrative center for more than five centuries. It’s now a popular tourist destination with some temples and shrines. The Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine is one of the most important Tenmangu Shrines in Japan. These shrines were built as a dedication to Heian Period politician and scholar, Sugawara Michizane. Other attractions you might want to visit include the Kyushu National Museum (the fourth national museum in Japan), Government Office Ruins, Kanzeonji Temple, and the Komyozenji Temple. Dazaifu is a quaint district which contrasts with Fukuoka’s urban sprawl. It’s better to explore Dazaifu on foot because the local buses have long wait times.

Dazaifu. Photo by Joshua Berida/Rappler

After spending the afternoon in Dazaifu, return to Fukuoka and try some of its local dishes from the restaurants and famous stalls on Nakasu Island. You can also grab a bowl of tonkotsu ramen from Ichiran. 

How to get to Dazaifu: 

By bus

Board a bus from Hakata Bus Center bound for Dazaifu. The one-way trip costs JPY610 and takes around 40 minutes. 

By train

Board a train bound for Nishitetsu Futsukaichi Station from Nishitetsu Fukuoka Station. From Futsukaichi Station, you’ll have to transfer to the Dazaifu Line to board another train to Dazaifu. The trip including transfer may take up to 40 minutes. The fare is JPY410. 

Entrance fees:

  • Fukuoka Castle ruins – free unless during a special illumination event.
  • Kanzeonji Treasure Hall – JPY500
  • Komyozenji Temple – JPY500
  • Dazaifu Exhibition Hall – JPY200
  • Kyushu National Museum – JPY700 for the permanent collection
  • Dazaifu Tenmangu Museum – JPY500 

Day 2

On your second day, visit some of the city’s attractions such as the Fukuoka Tower, Ohori Park, Canal City, Sumiyoshi-jinja Shrine, Kushida-jinja Shrine, and the Fukuoka Art Museum. The Sumiyoshi-jinja Shrine is a counterpart of a similar site in Osaka. It’s a shrine dedicated to seafarers’ divinities, which sailors would visit before embarking on their journey. It contains centuries-old artifacts. The Kushida-jinja Shrine is another ancient relic in the city. It is one of the oldest Shinto shrines in Japan, dating to AD 757. 

After visiting the shrines, make your way to Canal City. Do what many Filipinos do and visit a mall and window shop (or actually shop). Canal City is a huge entertainment and shopping center with more than 200 shops, restaurants, and other things you’d find in a mall of the same size. You could drop by the Ramen Stadium for a bowl of Hakata Ramen for lunch. 

Have a chill afternoon walking around Ohori Park. The latter is a popular spot for jogging and taking leisurely walks around the lake. It was patterned after China’s West Lake. If you’re into art, you might want to visit the Fukuoka Art Museum, which is near the park. You’ll find a collection of Japanese, Korean, and Western art by legends such as Andy Warhol, Kusama Yayoi, Salvador Dali, and Joan Miro, just to name a few. 

End your day by getting a bird’s eye view of the city from Fukuoka Tower’s observation deck. The local government had it built in 1989 to commemorate Fukuoka City’s 100th anniversary. The tower’s exterior is impressive with more than 8,000 mirrors adorning it. It also has a café and restaurant where you can have dinner or lunch at Refuge Sky Café & Dining or the Restaurant Renga Club.


  • Fukuoka Art Museum – JPY200
  • Fukuoka Tower – JPY800

Day 3

Try to depart for Nagasaki from Fukuoka as early as possible. You can catch a bus departing as early as around 6 am from the Hakata Bus Terminal or Nishitetsu Bus Terminal. You can buy a ticket on the day, but I would recommend buying a ticket at least the day before your planned departure. You can refer to this site for schedules. 

Nagasaki Peace Statue. Photo by Joshua Berida/Rappler

After checking into your accommodation and eating lunch, make your way to Peace Park. The latter commemorates the bombing of Nagasaki on August 9, 1945. The atom bomb killed thousands of people and destroyed huge swathes of the city. Here you’ll find the Hypocenter Park; it marks the epicenter of the bomb’s explosion. Not too far from the Hypocenter Park you’ll find Nagasaki’s most famous statue, the Peace Statue. You’ll also see a variety of memorials and monuments for those that died during the bombing throughout the park. Drop by the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum to learn more about the tragedy and the need for peace.

Urakami Cathedral. Photo by Joshua Berida/Rappler

A few minutes’ walk from Peace Park, Urakami Cathedral is a rebuilt Catholic church that was destroyed during the explosion of the atomic bomb. Its damaged pillar is found near the black monolith in the Hypocenter Park. 

Hypocenter Park. Photo by Joshua Berida/Rappler

If you’re already hungry, you can grab a bite at any of the cafés, restaurants, or convenience stores near Peace Park. After eating (or not), head on over to Mt. Inasa, one of the best viewpoints in the city. You can reach the summit by ropeway. The ride takes around five minutes; a one-way trip costs JPY730 and costs JPY1,250 for a roundtrip ride. You can walk to the lower station from the Takaramachi tram stop. Wait until it gets dark to get spectacular views of the city at night.  

Night view from Mt. Inasa. Photo by Joshua Berida/Rappler


  • Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum – JPY200

Day 4

Glover Garden. Photo by Joshua Berida/Rappler

After breakfast and checking out, make your way to Glover Garden. This open air museum showcases buildings, structures, and houses of former prominent foreign residents who lived in Nagasaki when Japan’s era of seclusion ended. One such famous resident was Thomas Glover, a Scottish merchant. He was a prominent figure during Japan’s early industrialization. Tourists can enter some of the mansions’ rooms to get a glimpse of the wealthy lifestyle of its former residents. The garden also provides visitors with fetching views of the harbor and city. 

Dejima. Photo by Joshua Berida/Rappler

After exploring Glover Garden, make your way to Oura Church. It’s one of the oldest Christian churches in Japan. A French missionary had it built in 1864 for the community of foreigners in Nagasaki. Around 10 minutes’ walk from Oura Church is the Dutch Slope. This area is home to a few remaining Western-style buildings, which connect them with the city’s opening to foreign trade in the late 1850s. Another foreigner enclave of note is Dejima. The latter used to be a man-made island in Nagasaki’s port. The local government had it built in 1636 to segregate foreigners and control and monitor their activities. Its first occupants were the Portuguese; the Japanese later expelled them and the Dutch took their place. Today, Dejima is no longer an island; its surroundings are now reclaimed areas. 

Twenty Six Martyrs Monument. Photo by Joshua Berida/Rappler

After lunch, drop by the Twenty Six Martyrs Monument. This structure was dedicated to the 26 executed Christians in 1597. The martyrs included ordinary people and foreign missionaries. The museum provides you with information about this piece of history in Japan. Other places you might want to visit include Chinatown, Meganebashi Bridge, Kofukuji Temple, Sofukuji Temple, and Gunkanjima. 


  • Glover Garden – JPY620
  • Oura Church – JPY1,000
  • Twenty Six Martyrs Museum – JPY500

Day 5

On your last day in Fukuoka, you can return to some of the places you liked in the city or just shop for souvenirs before you go to the airport for your flight back to the Philippines. 

How much will you spend?

A budget of roughly JYP42,000 to JPY48,000 or around P17,000 to P20,000 for the itinerary above for one person is enough to cover a bed in a dorm room, two to three paid attractions, eating at convenience stores (with the occasional splurge), taking the roundtrip bus to and from Nagasaki, and taking public transportation. You’ll spend more or less depending on the following: if you shop, stay in a private room, eat at restaurants all the time, buy drinks and dessert, take taxis, and go to more attractions. Fukuoka and Nagasaki are cheaper cities compared to Tokyo. 

Budget tips

Fukuoka and Nagasaki are more affordable than Tokyo, but you could still save some more money during your trip.

  • Buy a tram pass in Nagasaki and a subway pass in Fukuoka.
  • Convenience stores are your friends; they offer affordable meals for budget travelers.
  • Buy roundtrip inter-city bus tickets because they’re usually cheaper than buying a one-way ticket.
  • Consider staying in dorm rooms in hostels; they’re often cheaper than getting a private room.


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