19 January 2016

FEATURE POST: Having the Time of Your Life in a Fukuoka Getaway

The new year is rolling in and there’s a lot to look forward to.  For starters, there are several long weekends to plan getaways for.   The long Holy Week break right down to the April 9 Araw ng Kagitingan holidays are just perfect for a Fukuoka Getaway.  That’s about the time when the Cherry Blossom Festivals are held in the southernmost part of Japan.  Since there’s a new Cebu Pacific route straight to Fukuoka, there’s no need to travel from another city.  This early, you can already start planning and booking your travel arrangements to avoid the hassles of the peak season.  Doing so also gives you more time to save up and prepare all your travel needs.

Here are some tips to ensure that you will have the time of your life in your Fukuoka getaway:

* Plan your itinerary and activities – there are various tours available for exploring Fukuoka’s attractions.  Several parks and historic sites are home to thousands of Cherry Blossom trees.  Interspersed with strolls and picnics amidst the trees with their blooms en masse are activities that allow tourists to immerse themselves in the city’s rich culture.

Aside from the Fukuoka Castle Sakura Festival, tourists can visit other parks and enjoy day-long Hanami picnics.  Among the top Hanami sites are the Atago Shrine, the Nishi Park, the Higashi Hirao Park, and the Kameoka Park in Nagasaki.  The historic Ogi Park is also a great place to visit with its shrines and koi carp lake.  It’s also wonderful to view the Sakura trees after nightfall at Kumamoto Castle.

No vacation will be complete without shopping and dining, of course.  There are plenty of yatais or open air food stalls in Fukuoka where you can taste the flavors of Japan.  A must-try is Fukuoka’s tonkotsu ramen and yakitori.   At the shopping district, Tenjin, another recommended treat are the kinako and matcha Japanese cakes.  This Fukuoka downtown area has several department stores, specialty shops, and other commercial establishments.    

* Pack right – you want to have all the necessities when you travel to Japan.  Especially if you are going to be out enjoying the Sakura trees, you want to pack comfortable clothes.  It is generally warm during this season, but the nights can get quite cold and breezy.  Pack warm clothes to wear during the day time and bring a jacket or a scarf that you can use to cover up and get warm towards the late afternoon and evening.  If you are planning to have day-long Hanami picnics, you might want to bring along things to keep you and your vacation group entertained.  You can perhaps bring one of those “travel-sized” versions of popular game boards.  Or you can opt to bring a new book that you can read while listening to your favourite relaxing music.

* Check flight and tour schedules – if you want to catch the Sakura Festival in Fukuoka, you have to go towards the end of March.  As airline tickets could get expensive during the peak season, you want to take advantage of the cheaper rates by booking early.  Check out the tour and festival schedules and book your flight accordingly.  The timing could get quite tricky as the exact period when the Cherry Blossoms are in bloom cannot be predicted.  The Sakura Zensen forecasts from the Japanese Meteorogical Agency are fairly accurate.  Cebu Pacific’s flight schedules to Fukuoka are available at www.cebupacificair.com.