Fukuoka: A top choice in Japan for international conferences

What makes this Kyushu city such an attractive destination for MICE?

Fukuoka has a long history as a center of commerce combined with modern facilities and excellent infrastructure. This makes it an accessible, compact, and efficient city to traverse and explore. Combine this with nature, innovative industries, and vibrant local culture, and Fukuoka is positively buzzing with possibilities for MICE. 

As a recent participant of a FAM trip to Fukuoka hosted by the Fukuoka Convention & Visitors Bureau, I would like to share details of the city and my firsthand experience of the top-quality facilities, activities, and hospitality on offer. 

Fukuoka is a gateway to continental Asia, thanks to its location on the shores of Hakata Bay and its reputation as a center of international commerce since ancient times. The airport welcomes numerous direct flights from cities in Asia, while providing easy access from Europe and North America via hub airports in Tokyo, Osaka, Seoul, and other nearby cities. The addition of a new runway for international flights in 2025 will further boost Fukuoka’s standing as a top destination for business and travel.

The airport is only six minutes by subway from Hakata Train Station, the nexus for the city’s convenient public transport system and other parts of Japan. This proximity to the station makes getting to other regions easy and efficient.

As one of Japan’s largest and most important ports, Fukuoka is the country’s sixth-largest city by population, and has a fast-growing economy as well as one of the country’s fastest growing populations. One can attribute its popularity in part to the many opportunities for prospective entrepreneurs and startups seeking to bring their businesses to life in the city. 

Multilingual staff can be found at most large hotels and MICE facilities. There are more than 39,000 hotel rooms in the city, so whatever your budget you’ll find a hotel that suits your group. Conference organizers will also find a plethora of opportunities for attendees to learn about cutting-edge technology from companies and universities, both in Fukuoka and other parts of Kyushu. The Fukuoka Convention & Visitors Bureau can assist with recommendations and introductions to facility tours.

What’s more, Fukuoka does not suffer from overtourism. Indeed, one of the city’s most valuable aspects is that it continues to maintain the long-developed identity that makes it unique. Local people understand the value of livability, and Fukuoka regularly ranks among Japan’s most livable cities. I immediately noticed the convivial atmosphere on arrival, and the city’s responsible approach to development while considering residents and visitors makes Fukuoka a unique value proposition.  

Wellbeing and sustainability
As Fukuoka is compact, getting around by subway, bus, train, rent-a-cycle, or on foot is convenient and effective. The airport and convention centers are all within a 2.5-kilometer range and much of the city is dotted with green spaces thanks to the local government’s One Person, One Flower initiative. The city’s “people-friendly subway” provides peace of mind through its universal design, which includes barrier-free facilities and ticket machines in four languages. 

This care for environmental and human vitality, as well as proximity to the ocean and mountains, is reflected in the city’s efforts to be more sustainable. In December 2023, Fukuoka City joined the Global Sustainable Tourism Council, becoming the first municipality destination member in Japan. 

Fukuoka is proud to have the lowest water leakage in the world and be home to Japan’s largest reverse osmosis seawater desalination facility, Mamizu Pia, which supplies water to 250,000 people daily. Group factory tours are available at Mamizu Pia and other facilities around the city. 

Other sustainability efforts include encouraging the construction of environmentally friendly buildings, planting 10,000 trees in the heart of the city, and creating a smart city that promotes high-quality lifestyles and innovation alongside responsible development. 

Unparalleled hosting capabilities
Fukuoka’s Convention Zone, which is only 20 minutes by car from the airport, comprises a range of nearby facilities suitable for small, medium, and large conferences including the Fukuoka International Congress Center and Marine Messe Halls A & B. Hall A’s 8,000sqm multi-purpose exhibition hall can hold up to 15,000 pax in theatre style, while Hall B has 5,000sqm and four multipurpose meeting rooms.

Another large convention hall in the city is Hakata International Exhibition and Conference Center, which opened in 2021. It has two 3,000sqm multipurpose halls and 16 meeting rooms. 

In downtown Fukuoka, the step garden of conference facility ACROS Fukuoka creates a green oasis. Designed to resemble a mountain with a waterfall of greenery, this building supports 50,000 plants of 120 varieties and their associated ecosystems of insects and birds, while catering to conferences of various sizes. The greenery also reduces energy costs by helping to keep the building cool during summer. 

In Tenjin, the Daimyo Garden development houses The Ritz-Carlton Fukuoka and the Daimyo Conference meeting facility. We were among the first groups to use this versatile venue since its opening in 2023, and I think its spatial design prioritizing business flow and its partnership with other facilities in the complex that provide access to an open-air square will amply accommodate my next event. Daimyo Conference is connected directly to The Ritz-Carlton Fukuoka via an indoor walkway.

International conference attendees in Fukuoka are sure of a comfortable stay too, thanks to the presence of international brand hotels, multilingual staff, and warm, local hospitality. Moreover, facilities and accommodations alike are increasingly equipped to cater to guests’ needs, such as vegetarian, vegan, or halal diets, and allergies.

One such international hotel is the oceanfront Hilton Fukuoka Sea Hawk, the largest Hilton in Japan and the second-largest Hilton in the APAC region. It has 1,052 guestrooms and 30 meeting rooms with total event space of 5,907sqm. The centrally located five-star Grand Hyatt Fukuoka’s 372 rooms and banqueting/meeting facilities, meanwhile, are ideal for mid-sized conferences. 

Unique historic, cultural settings
Fukuoka has long been a site of shrines and temples, including the beautiful Tochoji Temple. It is said that the city is even home to one of Japan’s oldest Sumiyoshi Shrines, of which there are about two thousand branches around the country.  

For group dinner locations how about trying the oldest sake brewery in the city: Hyakunengura Sake Brewery. It offers three banquet spaces featuring late 19th century architecture, the largest with capacity for about 100 people, and tastings of its in-house spirits. This building is the only sake brewery in Hakata and a designated National Tangible Cultural Property. I was impressed with the remarkable architecture that is typical of a sake brewery, yet so hard to find in Japan today, which was a wonderful setting for the delicious washoku cuisine. 

Another traditional banqueting choice is Takamiya Teien Saryo, a tea house, garden, and event space with more than 100 years of history. I found the traditional setting, whose design incorporates Western and Japanese influences, and the French-inspired Japanese dishes complemented each other perfectly. I’m confident that attendees of my next convention dinner will also be enamored by the opportunity to try traditional ink-wash painting at the unique venue before their meal. 

Alternatively, why not take your guests to enjoy one of Fukuoka’s most famous tourist attractions, the yatai? These food stalls line the streets each evening and are an ideal place to meet local people and make new friends.

Support available for conferences
International conferences interested in Fukuoka can benefit from a range of tailored support including financial subsidies depending on the event’s duration, size, and attendees. Organizers can also receive photos for promotion, introductions to local companies for on-site collaborations, and recommendations of English-speaking volunteers. Fukuoka benefits from a global MICE school that produces top talent for its business events sector annually. Collateral such as convention bags are also available.

So, what are you waiting for? If you have a conference or event you are considering holding in Japan, please get in touch with the Fukuoka Convention & Visitors Bureau. They will be only too pleased to help you bring your MICE event to Fukuoka City, and look forward to hearing from you!

To contact an FCVB representative, email: mpf@welcome-fukuoka.or.jp



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