One of the cities in Japan that has a direct flight from Manila is Fukuoka.
This city is located on the southern side of Japan in the island of Kyushu. It is the largest city in Kyushu and one of the most populous city as well. Still, even if it is said to be densely populated, I found it to have a more laidback vibe compared to that of the super busy Tokyo.
Fukuoka is also known as the “ramen capital of the world.” Hence, when in Fukuoka, you should not miss trying a bowl of Hakata ramen.
Hakata Ramen — Ippudo
When I arrived in Fukuoka, it was a goal to try legit Hakata ramen. If you’re familiar with the ramen shops Ippudo and Ichiran, both originated in Fukuoka. As soon as I arrived at Hakata Station, which is an entry point to the city from the airport and from various points of Japan, I immediately looked for Ippudo. This ramen shop is located on the 10th floor of JR Hakata City, which is like a mall connected to the Hakata Station. I went up the elevator and headed for it.
The space in the ramen shop is a bit cramped so you’ll be asked to leave your luggage at the front of the shop near the cashier. I left mine there and it didn’t get lost or stolen (as I expected) so I’d say it was generally safe based on my experience. Also, language can be an issue, a minor one, since not a lot of people in Japan speaks English. Yet, I was amazed how hard they try to understand you and get things right. So far, I was able to order (and survive my trip) even with the language barrier. There’s Google Translate, anyway, and even if the translations were not accurate, I was able to communicate based on context. (See other apps I installed for my Japan trip.)
I got the classic, the Shiromaru Motoaji. This is Ippudo’s original tonkotsu ramen since the shop opened. According to Ippudo, it has a rich and fragrant tonkotsu (pork bone) broth that was cooked for 18 hours and then left to mature for 24 hours to get the savory taste of pork. I’d say it is a labor of love. The ramen comes with homemade Hakata-style thin and straight noodles to complement the broth.
My travel buddy had the Ippudo Karaka. This is silken pork broth with spicy minced meat seasoned with a special blend of spices including chili bean paste and sweet soybean paste. It also has original chili oil with Japanese pepper, which works well. It comes with medium-thick straight noodles. You can pick the level of spiciness according to your liking.
Although we have Ippudo in the Philippines, I found the Hakata Ippudo a must-try if you love tonkotsu ramen. I found the broth tastier and creamier, but maybe that’s just me. 🙂
The Ramen Stadium
Since Fukuoka is the “ramen capital of the world,” it offers other ramen choices if you want to try other shops aside from Ippudo and Ichiran.
In the city, they have a Ramen Stadium located on the 5th floor of the Cinema Building in the Canal City Shopping Center. Turn on your Google Maps and it is just a few minutes from Hakata Station.
The Ramen Stadium looks like a food court where you can have a choice of eight (8) ramen shops to try. Apparently, the ramen shops change from time to time to showcase different ramen dishes from all over Japan and outside.
I wanted to try something from Hakata, which means tonkotsu ramen, so I decided to go for Shodai Hidechan (初代 秀ちゃん).
I got their bestseller, the Hidechan Raumen, which is also featured on the Ramen Stadium leaflet.
Comparing this one to the Shiromaru Motoaji from Ippudo that I had the previous night, I liked the former more. This one is still creamy but a little more savory for my taste. However, I like its onsen tamago (literally translated as hot spring egg) more because it is savory with a hint of sweetness.
There are only three simple steps you need to do to dine at the Ramen Stadium:
1. Go to the stadium.
2. Buy a ticket from the meal ticket vending machine and line up as needed. There are staff there to assist you and sit you when a table is ready.
3. Eat your ramen.
Side trip – Kushida Shrine
With a belly full of ramen, we decided to walk around the area. A few minutes walk from Canal City Shopping Center is Kushida Shrine.
The shrine was said to have been founded in 757, yet it is considered more of an urban shrine. The area of Kushida Shrine is easy to explore since it isn’t as huge as the ones you can find in Kyoto. Still, it has lots of structures and torii, so if you’re like me who likes torii a lot, this is a nice place to explore and take photos of.
Side trip – Ohori Park
A few minutes away from Hakata Station is the Ohori Koen Subway Station, which easily leads to Ohori Park.
After roaming around Kushida Shrine, we headed to Ohori Park for a laidback afternoon. The park has a large pond at the center and there are lots of benches around where you can sit back and rest. I think it is a good place to write your stories if you’re like me. If you want to jog or stroll leisurely, the park has a paved path about 2kms in circumference around the pond.
Near the center of the pond, there is a hexagonal pavilion perfect for taking photos. I think it looks nicer at sunset, however, it was cloudy when we visited so no sun for us.
I wish you have an amazing time if ever you travel to Fukuoka!
*Information on this post is correct as of the time of publication. Double check with specific sites to ensure the accuracy of information when you travel. Have fun!
Any other food to try and places to visit in Fukuoka? Share your thoughts with us!