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DISCOVER: Fukuoka, an ANA Mini Guide

Most visitors to Japan hit the streets of Tokyo, tour the temples of Kyoto and stop there. But for those willing to travel a little further, Japan’s southernmost island of Kyushu, and in particular its biggest city, Fukuoka, is well worth journeying the extra miles for.

Surrounded by sea and mountains, Fukuoka is laid-back and welcoming, with a wealth of attractions for foodies and cultural tourists alike. Read on for five under-the-radar things to DO, DRINK, STAY, EAT and DISCOVER in one of Japan’s true hidden gems.

DO: Visit the City’s Undercover Art Gallery

Fukuoka’s 1,100 year-old Dazaifu Tenmangu shrine is making waves by hosting contemporary art exhibitions alongside their permanent collection of historic artefacts. Spearheaded by a progressive young priest, the well-known Shinto Temple embarked on an inspirational exhibition programme several years ago, and now attracts a steady stream of visitors keen to wander the tatami-clad rooms and appreciate the artwork in-residence.

Admission is ¥700, head to the temple website for more information.

Dazaifu Tenmangu shrine: 4 Chome-7-1 Saifu, Dazaifu, Fukuoka Prefecture 818-0117

DRINK: Natural Wine with your Third Wave Coffee  

Japan is no stranger to the third wave coffee movement and every city plays host to its fair share of beautifully designed cafés serving up perfectly prepped flat whites. But in Fukuoka, one innovative proprietor is killing two trends with one stone by offering expertly crafted coffee alongside an impressive selection of natural wines. After quitting his job as a hairdresser, Tatsuya Harada, owner of café-wine bar Ecru set out to become a bartender, but became just as obsessed with coffee culture along the way. He now applies an equal level of dedication to serving up perfectly selected and prepared coffee and wine to a legion of local fans.

Ecru Fukuoka : 3-4-1 Tenjin, Chuo-ku, Fukuoka-shi

STAY: In Fukuoka’s Best-Loved Destination Hotel  

A wealth of inner-city accommodation options await visitors to Fukuoka, but for those in search of some respite, the Fukuoka Hilltop Hotel offers the perfect retreat, away from the bustle of the city centre. A short car ride away, the beautifully designed hotel sits on a hillside overlooking the city, and boasts widespread views of Fukuoka and beyond. Guests of the 48 well-appointed rooms have access to a spa, natural hot spring baths, an open-air garden restaurant and a well-stocked library.

Fukuoka Hilltop Hotel: 1-1-33 Terukuni, Chuo-Ku, Fukuoka

EAT: Kyushu’s Freshest Fare with a Unique French Twist

At La Maison de La Nature Goh, head chef and owner Takeshi Fukuyama has created a restaurant which celebrates Kyushu’s wealth of local ingredients and draws patrons from across Japan and beyond. Tucked away down a quiet alley off Fukuoka’s Nishinakasu street, Fukuyama serves up an ever-changing omakase (or ‘chef’s choice’) menu of six or seven French-Japanese plates. Expect Kyushu Wagyu beef, ultra-fresh seafood, and a signature dish of sautéed foie gras with seasonal vegetables. All Fukuyama’s dishes are impeccably presented and guests can expect to meet the chef himself, as he personally greets all visitors whilst cooking for them from behind the counter.

La Maison de La Nature Goh: 2-26 Nishinakasu, Chuo Ward, Fukuoka, 810-0002

DISCOVER: UNESCO Protected Textiles

Venture just outside Fukuoka to Kurume and you’ll get the chance to see one of Japan’s most precious crafts still in production. Kasuri is an ancient Japanese weaving technique, similar to Ikat, which has remained unchanged for hundreds of years and a visit to Kurume is a visit to the home of Kasuri textiles. See first-hand the painstaking process behind weaving some of the world’s most beautiful cloth.

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