The harbour city of Fukuoka on Japan's Kyushu Island is an untapped hotspot for incredible culture and food. Ancient temples, Buddhist shrines and golden beaches form a breathtaking backdrop to one of the city's most mesmerising views: looking down into a bowl of steaming tonkotsu ramen. You'll find everything from noodles bathed in a silky broth made from pork bones to open-air food stands selling yakitori chicken skewers, fragrant hot pots or frosty beers.
When it comes to bedding down, you can stay in a western-style Fukuoka hostel modelled on a bookstore, or in an old school building that has a gymnasium, library and recording studio. For an authentic Japanese experience, choose a traditional guesthouse complete with futon beds and woven mat floors. Many hostels in Fukuoka have eating and drinking options on site: one has a pancake café, another a stand-up Izakaya-style bar. Hire a bike and explore the city straight from your doorstep, after making the most of the free breakfast or snacks offered at many Fukuoka hostels.
The city's entertainment hotspot is Nakasu, a small island filled with neon lights, lanterns and mobile food stalls selling traditional nibbles. Head to business hub Tenjin if you're looking to see skyscrapers, visit underground shopping centres or hang out in stylish bars. The downtown neighbourhood of Fukuoka is home to Hakata train station and Fukuoka Airport, so it's an easy option for anyone using Fukuoka as a gateway to the rest of Kyushu.
As for sightseeing, you'll find Buddhist temples and shrines dotted around the city. The Atago Shrine, set on a hillside with views over Fukuoka and Hakata Bay, hosts festivals all year round. There's Yanagibashi market, known locally as "Fukuoka's Kitchen", where you'll find the freshest seafood. Underground food halls called depachika serve fast meals, and the city's famously popular yatai food stalls offer up a feast for the senses. Outside the city, you can visit Nanzoin Temple to see the Reclining Buddha, said to be the largest bronze statue in the world.
Fukuoka is a five-hour journey from Tokyo by Shinkansen bullet train on the Tokaido/Sanyo line. Flying takes just under two hours, and Fukuoka Airport is a five-minute underground ride from Hakata railway station. To get around, jump on one of the three subway lines or catch the '100-yen bus', which loops through the city centre every 10 minutes. Nanzoin Temple is a 25-minute train ride away, and the Atago Shrine is a 15-minute walk from the Muromi subway station.