One of the best parts about traveling is the feeling of wonderment you get when you visit a place for the first time. I’m no stranger to getting caught with my mouth hanging open in awe, but Nokonoshima Island Park exceeded my expectations so much I was constantly at a loss for words to describe the sight before me. Stunning is really the only word that feels appropriate, but even that isn’t quite enough.
If you’re visiting Fukuoka during cherry blossom season, do yourself a favor and come to Nokonoshima Island Park. It’s literally like stepping into a mystical garden full of sakura. Maybe this is what the Asian version of the Garden of Eden would look like.
I honestly feel like there’s not much I can say that will effectively describe the beauty of the Nokonoshima Island Park. There were so many things I wanted to include in the video below, but I thought it would be best to just add in the highlights and leave the rest to your imagination. You’ll have to see for yourself the magic this island holds! For now, a little teaser:
How to get here
Because Nokonoshima is an island of its own in the middle of Hakata Bay, there is no other way to get here but by ferry. It takes only 10 minutes from the Noko-dosenba Ferry Terminal.
Since we lived in the downtown area of Fukuoka City, we had to take the subway to Meinohama Station and then take the Nishitetsu Bus from the Meinohama-eki Kitaguchi Bus Stop to the Ferry Terminal. If you’re coming from the Hakata Station Bus Terminal, directly take the Nishitetsu Bus from there and get off at Noko-dosenba Ferry Terminal.
The round-trip ferry ride will cost 460 yen (240 yen for children). You must always take note of the timetable for the ferry trips because there are about 23 trips made back and forth per day only. They sometimes open additional trips if absolutely necessary, but those are very rare cases only. The time we were there, they operated an off-schedule ferry so that the kindergarteners who were on a field trip could ride back together in a group.
It’s no surprise that a lot of people visit Nokonoshima Island, so the lines can be rather long at the terminal. (Add to that the residents who actually live on the island!) But the ferry can carry a good amount of people so the line moves rather fast.
The ferry ride is the easy part. Watching the scenery change from blue waters to green hills is quite calming. But when you get to the island, you still have to ride the Nishitetsu Bus bound for the Island Park. It’s 230 yen for adults one way (120 yen for children). It’s also the most difficult part of the trip especially when you’ve run out of seats and are standing. The incline and the loops and the speed at which the bus is driven will require you to hold on for dear life wahaha!
But hey, I can assure you it’s worth it! You forget about everything else the moment you step out of the bus and see your first sakura tree…
Nokonoshima Island Park
Nokonoshima Island Park was intended as a getaway from the modernization and industrialization that Fukuoka went through in the 1960’s. Here you won’t see any tall buildings or trains; only the beauty of nature for miles and miles away. It’s amazing that the Island Park was the idea of a 19 year-old named Kubota Kosaku. It is literally the perfect place to appreciate the full magic of nature; and how could you resist dabbling in a little outdoor activity when your surroundings are as beautiful as this? I don’t think I’ve ever had a stronger desire to picnic than when I came here to Nokonoshima Island Park.
To enter the Island Park, you will have to pay 1,200 yen (600 yen for children) and I will say it’s a well-spent amount for the maintenance of such an Eden. There is literally no bad view in this place. It’s just so stunning!
Like many of Japan’s beautiful gardens, Nokonoshima Island Park offers different sights during different seasons. The colors and the blooms can turn from white and pink to golden in a span of months. Check out the schedule of the blooms you can expect for a particular season.
Because it is only 12 kilometers all around, it can be explored by foot slowly throughout the day. You will see a lot of people picnicking and cooking barbecue, playing football or catch. There are loads of kids by the playground as well. However, the highlight of the Island Park is its collection of trees and flowers– the most attention-grabbing of which are of course the sakura trees in springtime.
If you’re looking for a view of Fukuoka, you can visit the Nokonoshima Lookout. For a bit of history, check out the Noko Museum. They also open the camping grounds here from May to September. I read that there is a little camping village north of the island that offers cottages and barbecue pits for a summer camping adventure. There’s also a beach on the island. For us, we were here for the springtime flowers and a bit of barbecue.
Below is one of my favorite views on the island. I got so caught up taking videos and staring at the view that I forgot to snap more photos of the blossoms zoomed in! Oh well.
Anyway, these yellow flowers are called rapeseed blossoms and you must be very careful when you come into contact with them. There are small pathways between the blossoms where you can position yourself for photos but the moment they brush against your clothes, you will find yourself covered in yellow dust that can even tint your clothes.
You must absolutely take photos with the sakura and flowers whilst here, or I can assure you you will regret it! 😀
Afterwards, you can go and find a little place for yourself to engage in some quiet contemplation.
Where to eat
Bringing onigiri and bento boxes for picnics on Nokonoshima Island Park may be a dream experience, but it’s not always the easy route for tourists and foreigners. There are quite a few shops and restaurants to buy snacks and food from inside the park for those who aren’t too keen on lugging many things around, but the price might be a little more expensive than normal.
The Barbecue House was where we had our lunch and it is situated in a place that provides you with a sublime view of the rapeseed field and Hakata Bay. Just remember to sit outside! What I like about this place is you can either order their in-house meal sets, OR you can bring your own food to barbecue with. They will rent you the grill and the table for 700 yen per person (plus 300 yen for drinks as kind of a corkage fee) but you will have to bring your own seasonings and plates and tongs alongside the food you want to grill. They will literally just provide you seats, the grill, plus the charcoal.
Since we didn’t bring our own stuff to barbecue, we decided to try out their Noroshiyaki Barbecue Set which costs 2,700 yen (tax included). One set serves two so just adjust accordingly. The barbecue set includes a good assortment of meat plus some gorgeous fresh scallops. I loved that there was corn and some other veggies as well to make the meal a filing one. Their sauce is pretty good.
I do believe the rice is a separate order, but we ordered some curry dishes as well because they will require you to order the same amount of dishes as there are people in your party.
If you’re looking for a more extravagant barbecue experience, you can ask them to provide you with other barbecue ingredients. Depending on your budget, they can provide lobster and other shellfish, as well as abalone and premium steak cuts.
For dessert, we decided to buy some matcha soft serve from a stall overlooking the rapeseed field. In Japan, you will very rarely get disappointed by the soft serve wherever you decide to buy it! There’s just so much fun under the sun to be had here at Nokonoshima Island Park. The spring weather was perfect for barbecue and flower-viewing, and it’s truly the sort of place that can convert even the homebody to an enjoyer of the outdoors. ❤️
I hope you all get to visit this park one day, because it has officially become one of my favorites in the world!