Expand Your Sense of Wonder

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Get your outdoor gear ready because we’re about to head deep into Fukuoka’s bountiful landscape for some unrestricted nature-loving fun and adventure! This edition of our Fukuoka visit is about appreciating the bounty of the region’s mountainous and coastal landscapes, as well as local community efforts to preserve them. On day one, we go on a forested “shower” walk trekking through waterfalls, learn about a volunteer-run salmon fishery, pray at an ancient salmon shrine, and enjoy a local BBQ feast. On day two, we go on a cycling tour through Fukuoka’s countryside, pick strawberries, then satisfy our bellies with flawlessly crafted sushi dishes for dinner!

Our first destination is the Kaho Alps region in central Fukuoka, where we partake in a unique “shower” waterfall climbing experience. After meeting our knowledgeable and English-savvy guide Arita-san, we head to Onga River. Lovingly referred to as the “Mother River,” it has been the nurturing lifeline for the region’s rice cultivation. It’s also the only river in Kyushu where salmon make their annual salmon run.

At first, we cautiously leap from rock to rock with Arita-san leading the way, but it’s not long before his exuberance and kind encouragement persuade us to wade waist-deep into the river’s cool waters. Wearing all the appropriate safety gear, we focus our efforts entirely on maneuvering our way around the river’s beautiful waterfalls. At the top, we enjoy a welcome pot of coffee and friendly company to warm our bodies and souls.

Feeling like true outdoor adventurers, we then hop onto bikes and head to the Onga River Headwaters Salmon Association to visit this volunteer-run salmon hatchery. The hatchery is a testament to the locals’ passion for preserving wild salmon, which were endangered during Japan’s coal mining period. In 1978, the salmon made a miraculous comeback and have since been supported by local efforts to restore the natural balance with green dams, regular coastal cleanups, and maintaining pristine forests. 

Next, we head down to the foot of the mountain for spiritual blessings at the 1,250-year-old Salmon Shrine. Every December 13, the salmon offering ceremony takes place to honor and welcome the divine messenger disguised as a salmon, who brings good luck to the salmon run every year. After praying to the gods, we end our day with a BBQ feast of local vegetables, seafood, and beef in order to restore our energy and spirits for the following day’s adventures. 

©Fukuoka Prefecture Tourism Association

On day two, we pack our bags and head north to Okagaki town for a cycling trip through the Fukuoka countryside and some fruit picking. Our first stop is the Okagaki Town Tourism Station, where their selection of electric, road, and tandem bikes covers all your cycling needs. This environmentally friendly tourism center is built using Fukuoka timber and rooftop solar panels, a multi-purpose restroom, and hot showers for cyclists to freshen up at the end of the day. 

There is no better way to explore the Japanese countryside than on two wheels, as we pass through expansive rice fields on our way to a strawberry farm to pick the freshest springtime batch. In Japan, December to early spring is strawberry season, and the local strawberry facility contains more than enough to satisfy our craving for the sweet, delicious fruits. Each perfectly formed fruit is a potential explosion of flavor. 

It was certainly a challenge not to wolf down these sweet jewels on the spot, but somehow we found the self-control to save a few to take along with us. A short bike ride away is Budounoki, where we turn our prior self-restraint into traditional Japanese desserts, which contain the aforementioned strawberries, sweetened anko red bean, and shiratamako rice flour. The pleasantly chewy texture of the rice blends with the creamy anko and fresh strawberries to form the perfect combination of mouthwatering deliciousness. This dessert-making course at Budounoki is a fun activity that is perfect for a family traveling with kids or for anyone who loves desserts. Each change in weather has its matching seasonal fruit, so you can enjoy this experience throughout the year or simply try the restaurant’s menu items, including natural yeast bread, pizza, and wine. 

Of course, no coastal visit to Fukuoka would be complete without tasting the rich offerings of Fukuoka’s bountiful ocean. At Sushi Yatai, we chose the omakase menu for the best seasonal mix of sashimi and sushi dishes, each piece subject to the chef’s careful consideration. A sushi bar with a scenic view of the coastline right from your seat further connects the gastronomical experience with the very waters where these fish come from.  

By the sea or in the river, a whole outdoor world of adventure activities awaits you in Fukuoka!

Access Information

Access to the rural areas of Fukuoka is most convenient by rental car. Several rental car companies are within walking distance of JR Hakata Station in Fukuoka City.

Onga River at Kaho Alps
Kama City, Fukuoka Prefecture

Salmon Hatchery(JapaneseWebiste)
254-1 Kuwano, Kama City, Fukuoka Prefecture

Salmon Shrine
542 Okuma, Kama City, Fukuoka Prefecture

Okagaki Town Tourism Station(Cycling Experience)
670-34 Hara, Okagaki Town, Onga County, Fukuoka Prefecture

Budounoki (Japanese Website)
183 Teno, Okagaki Town, Onga County, Fukuoka Prefecture

Sushi Yatai (Japanese Website)
670-18 Hara, Okagaki Town, Onga County, Fukuoka Prefecture

Nearby sightseeing spots:
Tama no I Sake Brewery

Sadamasashi is a line of Japanese sake started in 1984 (Showa 59) and is known as the ”sake of Tama no I and is a choice Fukuoka sake known around Japan”

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