Although Fukuoka City is more famous for its food and culture than its landmarks, Fukuoka Tower is one landmark worth seeing. Built to succeed the aging Hakata Port Tower as a symbol for the city, Fukuoka Tower is 234 meters (767.7 feet) tall at its highest point, with a 360-degree-view observatory at 123 meters (403.5 feet). Construction was completed in 1989 on reclaimed land overlooking sandy beaches and Hakata Bay, and it is the tallest sea-coast tower in Japan. The exterior is covered by 8,000 semi-mirrored panels, and aside from being a tourist attraction, the tower functions as a broadcasting antenna for numerous TV and radio networks.
The view from the top is spectacular, giving you the chance to look out over the sprawling city as well as various islands scattered about Hakata Bay and the Genkai Sea. On the floors just below the observatory, there is a pleasant cafe where you can sip coffee or beer and have a snack while enjoying the view. Afterward, you can take a stroll on he beach or through the surrounding Momochihama district (one of Fukuoka’s most upscale neighborhoods), or catch at baseball game at Fukuoka Yahoo! Japan Dome, home stadium of the Softbank Hawks. During the Golden Week holiday, an event is held in which participants race up the emergency stairs–577 steps in all–to the top in an attempt to set the best time record. During the Japanese Tanabata star festival, and for Christmas as well, the tower is brilliantly illuminated.
To get to Fukuoka Tower from Hakata Station, take bus 306 or 312 (~25 min., 220 yen), or take the Kuko Subway Line to Nishijin Station and walk about 20 min. from exit 1. From Tenjin, take bus 302 or 305 (~20 min., 220 yen), or use the Kuko Subway Line. The nearest bus stop to the tower is Fukuoka Tower Minami-Guchi. Admission to the tower is 800 yen for adults, and discounts are given for children, senior citizens, and groups. For more information, visit Fukuoka Tower’s website.