Why Fukuoka is the place for unique incentives and meetings

As Kyushu’s largest city, Fukuoka has a diverse array of options for unique incentives and meetings, from ancient temple visits and traditional craft activities to gourmet food tours and scenic retreats in nature.

With more than 1,000 years’ experience of trade with mainland Asia, Fukuoka has a pronounced heritage of international exchange. This history may be a reason for Fukuoka’s infectious energy: people are warm, convivial, and gregarious, and citizens’ pride in their home is reflected in Fukuoka’s meeting and incentive offerings. As a recent FAM trip participant, I can attest to the city’s passion and warm hospitality. 

A regional commercial center home to leading industries and startups, this city of innovation can provide groups with insights and inspire creativity. At the same time, its rich culture, long influenced by its proximity to the rest of Asia, can be found at almost every turn, such as its renowned yatai food stalls, Old Town, crafts, and festivals. 

Fukuoka boasts some of the best access to nature of all cities in Japan thanks to its location: facing Hakata Bay and surrounded on three sides by mountains. In less than an hour from downtown by public transport, visitors can be fishing on picturesque Nokonoshima Island, cycling at Uminonakamichi Seaside Park, or hiking on the Shingu Olle Trail. The city is also packed with green spaces such as shrine precincts, parks, and traditional gardens, allowing both residents and visitors to take a break. 

With options ranging from highly affordable to luxurious, there is something for all budgets. Even international travel is competitive due to the large number of carriers offering direct flights to Fukuoka from other parts of Asia, as well as connections from Europe and North America via hub airports in Tokyo, Osaka, Seoul, and other nearby cities. 

Activities of all Kinds
Many of Fukuoka’s activities are unique to the city, and share a commitment to preserve the past while developing for the future. 

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.  

I caught a glimpse of the future, meanwhile, at teamLab Forest Fukuoka, a new kind of digital museum created by international art collective teamLab, which aims to create interactive exhibitions that cohesively synthesize art, technology, and nature. It was an unforgettable experience to wander the immersive environment, using my smartphone to “capture” animals, learn about them, and then “release” them back into the wild. For my next incentive trip, I will make use of the option to book the museum exclusively, for up to 200 guests.

For groups that want something more traditional, I recommend the hakubyoga ink wash painting activity for groups of up to 40. While this experience can be carried out in virtually any setting, I was able to try it in the designated cultural property Takamiya Teien Saryou, a tea house, garden, and event space. Experiencing an ancient art in such a well-preserved setting was a rare joy, which was made all the more special thanks to the delicious Japanese fusion cuisine served prior to the activity. 

For larger groups of up to 100 why not try chakabuki or kumiko? Literally meaning tea drama, chakubuki was once a sophisticated game for Japan’s aristocracy, who were tasked with tasting various teas and matching each one’s characteristics to a corresponding card.

Today, the game uses Fukuoka’s specialty Yame tea and is hosted by a local tea expert, making it the ideal way to learn about this gourmet experience in a fun, exciting way.

The kumiko activity, meanwhile, involves making a wooden ornament by laying many wooden parts in grooves to create a wide variety of beautiful floral patterns. The kumiko course is also led by an expert and can be delivered at any venue.

Other unique activities include inclusive kimono dressing, whereby participants have the freedom to choose any kimono style, regardless of their gender, before enjoying a stroll around the park and castle ruins. And the opening or closing of any event would not be complete without a performance by traditional masked dance squad Dazaifu-Mahorobashu, whose dynamic flair and energy at our welcome dinner proved to be the perfect introduction to the atmosphere of the city and its people.

The food in Fukuoka is nothing short of exceptional. Recently awarded the coveted “Best in Travel 2023” award in the “Eat” category by Lonely Planet, the cuisine runs the gamut from GohGan, a French-Indian restaurant founded by Michelin star-winning chefs Tsuyoshi Fukuyama and Gaggan Anand, to the traditional Japanese dining experience at Kayanoya Restaurant, which sits in the idyllic mountainside surrounding Fukuoka. 

While dining at Kayanoya Restaurant, I was serenaded by music on traditional koto strings and shakuhachi flute. There was also an opportunity to learn about how the restaurant makes its high-quality dashi stock, which can be made to accommodate vegan guests.

Comfortable hotels
Opened in 2023, The Ritz-Carlton Fukuoka is one of the city’s newest hotels. It boasts 167 rooms and numerous dining options that complement the city’s renown as a lively food capital, with some banquet rooms equipped with a large LED screen. At the Grand Hyatt Fukuoka, proximity to business, entertainment, and shopping complex Canal City is a key draw, in addition to the 372 rooms and dining/meeting facilities. And, as the second-largest Hilton in the Asia Pacific region, Hilton Fukuoka Sea Hawk offers 1,052 guest rooms and expansive F&B choices from its beachside location. 

Exploring the region
As Fukuoka is a regional hub, it’s easy to explore areas outside the city, even during short stays. Stroll the temples and shrines of Dazaifu, a settlement once described as the western capital of ancient Japan, or relax on a river punting tour in Yanagawa, the Venice of Kyushu. Outside the prefecture, to the south, the 17th century Kumamoto Castle is only 33 minutes by Shinkansen bullet train, and in the east lies Beppu, a long-established onsen town where cooking is often carried out using geothermal steam.

Support available
A wide range of tailored support is available for meeting and incentive groups depending on their size and duration of stay. Options include financial subsidies, an airport welcome by ninjas, a traditional performance, and collateral such as eco bags. 

So, what are you waiting for? If you have a meeting 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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