The Kanmon Straits

On our way to Fukuoka, we sailed through the kanmon strait. The strait is so narrow and shallow that we had to adjust our itinerary to coincide with high tide to make it through. The captain opened the “front deck” so we could watch our transition through the straits from the ship’s bow. It was fascinating; we had to sail under the bridge, and it almost looked like we might not make it, but we did.

Bridge over Kanmon Straits.
Holland America Westerdam passing under the bridge in the Kanmon Strait.
Holland America Westerdam antena passing under the bridge in the Kanmon Strait.

The Arrival

The ship arrived at the port in Fukuoka around 3:30 PM, so we disembarked and picked up a map from the port’s tourist information desk. We spoke with the tourist staff and asked them about a few places to go and explore the next day. The ship was staying overnight in Fukuoka, and by the time we got off the ship, the day was winding down. We planned to gather information over dinner when we arrived and plot our exploration plan for the next day.

Ohori Park

After breakfast, we grabbed our map and found a taxi at the pier to take us to Ohori Park. The tourist information desk recommended the park. It was a bit of a drive but well worth the trip.

The park was beautiful; it surrounded a lake with walkways around it and to and from a small island in the middle of the lake. We walked the paths and bridges to the island and exited the other side. The lake had many big fish, large birds, and ducks. No fishing was allowed in the lake, so it was no wonder the fish were so big. Many locals were walking, running, and riding bikes around the park. Statues, monuments, curved bridges, and pergolas were sprinkled around the park, creating a relaxed setting.

Covered dock in Ohori Park, Fukuoka, Japan.
Bridge on the island in Ohori Park Fukuoka, Japan.
Covered picnic area in Ohori Park, Fukuoka, Japan.

Japanese Gardens

Our next stop was the Fukuoka Castle Ruins, located just a short walk from the park. On the way there, we wandered past a small Japanese Garden, so we decided to stop in and check it out. It was wonderful!

Beautifully sculptured plants and shrubs and a couple of ponds surrounded the area. Several streams and waterfalls fed the ponds and made the most relaxing sounds. Many plants scattered around the garden were starting to bloom.

Waterfall in Japanese garden in Fukuoka, Japan.
Pond in the Japanese garden in Fukuoka, Japan.
Stream in a Japanese garden in Fukuoka, Japan.

The pathways leading around the ponds went in several directions to unseen streams, pergolas, benches for resting, and beautifully organized plantings. The garden was our favorite part of the day; we spent quite a bit of time there.

Tree with mist in a Japanese garden in Fukuoka, Japan.
Statue in a Japanese garden in Fukuoka, Japan.
Mist over the pond in a Japanese garden in Fukuoka, Japan.

The Castle

The castle ruins were scattered about a well-maintained and marked complex. It was quite a hike to get to the grounds. Most of the signage was in Japanese, so we asked someone to point us to the correct path to see the ruins of the main building. It looked like a place you could easily get lost in.

We scaled some very rough boulders that looked like they might have been terraced steps. They were very high, uneven, and wide. They reminded us of the steps leading to the castle in Kochi earlier in the week, but they were not as well-spaced. It felt like we were rock climbing, but we made it to the top. There were no handrails, so we balanced our climb, holding on to what was left of the wall next to the stairs. The view from the top was nice; you could imagine it in its glory days, but there was so little left of the building that it didn’t take us long to explore. It appears they are in the process of rebuilding or preserving the main building of the castle.

Steps leading to the castle in Fukuoka, Japan.
Castle renovations in Fukuoka, Japan.
Headstone near castle ruins in Fukuoka, Japan.

Several “headstones” were scattered around the grounds, but the markings were all in Japanese, so we’re not sure what they said. We walked quite a ways down a street parallel to what looked like a river but was part of the moat that originally surrounded the castle. The moat was filled with fish and turtles. Jim found a baby turtle on the walkway and moved it to some grass. An elderly lady picked it up and put it closer to the water. Trees lined a walkway between the city street and the moat.

Bird near moat.
Turtle near moat.
Jim and Rosie selfie on castle grounds in Fukuoka, Japan.

Shopping

After leaving the castle ruins, we walked leisurely down the street next to the moat. Some cute water features and lovely murals were on the walls near a busy shopping center. The cherry blossoms were past their prime, but several trees still had blossoms on them.

Fountain in Fukuoka, Japan.
Shopping area in Fukuoka, Japan.
Mural in shopping area in Fukuoka, Japan.

Ship Time

A taxi happened to pull up to the curb as we waited for a traffic light to change, so we hopped in, and he took us back to the ship.

Fukuoka was a great port stop, and someplace I would return to given the chance

Jim in Japanese garden in Fukuoka, Japan.
Mist over the pond in the Japanese garden in Fukuoka, Japan.