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The shrine is also famous for hosting the Hakata Gion Yamakasa each July, a spectacular two-week festival focusing on prayers for good health and prosperity that includes an elaborate race involving teams carrying heavy wooden floats from the temple to various locations around the city.

Other temples of interest are the Shōfuku-ji Temple, the oldest Zen temple in Japan founded in 1195, and the Tochoji Temple, founded in AD 806 and noted for having the largest wooden statue in Japan.

Dazaifu Tenman-gū, dedicated to the god of education, is another of Fukuoka's well known shrines.

Spread across 3,000 acres, it's also one of the city's largest, and is particularly popular with students wanting to pass exams, often seen purchasing small wooden prayer tablets to deposit at the shrine.

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Fukuoka boasts a number of large public parks worth exploring.

The city also hosts many professional sporting events and festivals, most notably the famous Hakata Gion Yamakasa, a two-week long, 700-year-old celebration held each July, which involves colorful parades, traditional races, and costumes, along with musical offerings.

Fukuoka also offers many interesting shopping and dining opportunities, in particular in Canal City Hakata, a city-within-a-city complete with a waterway running through a complex of hotels, restaurants, arcades, cinemas, a theater, 250 shops, and other fun things to do.

From the shrine, which is surrounded by a large grove of Japanese cedars and camphor trees, are fine views over the River Naka.

Be sure to allow plenty of time to also explore the adjacent Sumiyoshi Park.

Hot Tip: Try to time your visit to coincide with one of the shrine's traditional theater performances.