If you had one last day to enjoy Fukuoka, and you have little kids with you, make the most of it with a day in JR Hakata City.
JR Hakata City refers to the building complex that includes Hakata Station. It is a tourist attraction in itself. Hakata station is the largest and busiest in Kyushu – the gateway to Fukuoka that links it to the rest of the country.
With that kind of traffic, the place has a wide range of food and dining options, great shopping, and leisure and entertainment activities.
In Hakata Station, look for the il Forno del Mignon store. The sweet, enticing smell of freshly baked bread and the long queue outside its nondescript store should lead you straight to it.
Some scents are just impossible to ignore, especially when it manages to fill this crazy-busy station, but there’s absolutely no regrets with indulging in a bag of these baby croissants.
It comes in original, chocolate, and sweet potato flavours. Yuuum.
Go to the rooftop
What probably sets this mall apart from others like it is a visit to its rooftop. Taking advantage of its 60-metre height, the Tsubame No Mori Hiroba features a cool little observation platform perfect for admiring the cityscape of Fukuoka and seeing airplanes come and go.
It’s a good opportunity to enjoy the sights, snap some photos, and take in some fresh outdoor air before entrapping yourself in air-conditioning for hours on end, especially if you still have a flight to catch, like us. It’s a pleasant way to pass the time.
Apart from the observatory, young kids will be quick to spot the Tsubame Mini Train. It’s really cute, and the track is nice with lots of plants and flowers. The early noon heat clearly did not deter my daughter.
This area is a child’s playground, and just perfect for families. There are picnic benches, and a riding area where kids can borrow tricycles and go for a spin. There are snacks and drinks, toys, and souvenirs for sale, too.
This is a funny little game where you get to keep as much rubber balls you can fish out of the water and put in your small bowl. The catch is your ‘net’ is made of paper. Kudos to whoever thought of it!
Have a bowl of Fukuoka’s best
This awesome mall also happened to have an impressive restaurant floor. It had restaurants representing cuisine from all over the world, it was difficult to settle on a restaurant for lunch. It was weird timing too because our little one started to get groggy from all the fun she had in Tsubame No Mori Hiroba.
So while we decided to let the kid take a nap, my husband scouted the floor for somewhere to eat. He told me about this ramen place with a long line outside, and that it should be interesting.
That place’s lunch queue lasted until 3PM, which was astonishing, considering service was pretty fast moving. The people lining up were almost all-local as well. It was a super late lunch, but we didn’t mind – our kid was able to rest and we felt we were in for something amazing.
It was truly a fitting farewell to Fukuoka to be able to taste one of the things it was famous for – ramen.
Ramen from Fukuoka is tonkotsu (pork) based. The soup base is made of boiled pork bones, and it typically looks milky-cloudy-white. The noodles are firm in the center, and the dish usually comes with tender slices of pork. This is also called Hakata ramen.
Ippudo Philippines first opened in 2014, but we just haven’t tried it before. It was such a privilege to have it for the first time in its home base, here in Fukuoka. It really is one of the best ramen out there.
With that, our first family holiday in kid-friendly Fukuoka has come to an end. Even up until the last day, it had little discoveries in store for us, and always had a little something for our little one to enjoy as well.
I dream of coming back here and seeing new places when it’s Spring or Autumn. Until then, Fukuoka.