Explore Munakata

10 Things to do in Munakata

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The Munakata area in northeastern Fukuoka prefecture is best known for the sacred island of Okinoshima, which along with its surroundings has been designated a World Heritage site. Rituals that have their basis in nature worship have been conducted here since the fourth century, and the entire region exudes mystical charm. Here are our top 10 recommendations for things to see and do in Munakata, from ancient sanctuaries and historic townscapes to artisanal cafés and super-fresh sushi.


1. Say a remote prayer

Munakata Taisha Shrine Okitsumiya Yohaijo

Say a remote prayer

The sacred island of Okinoshima is off limits to visitors, so honoring its deities is done at this off-site chapel on Oshima instead.
It offers views across the sea to the ‘island of the gods’, which is located some 48 kilometres off shore.

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2. Wade to an island sanctuary

Yume no Sayoshima

Wade to an island sanctuary

Sayoshima is like something straight out of a waka poem: a tiny island covered with pine trees and distinguished by a bright red torii gate in the sea between it and the beach. It’s a mystical spot that can be reached only at low tide.

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3. Step into a world of legend

Munakata Taisha Shrine Hetsumiya

Step into a world of legend

Considered one of the oldest shrines in all of Japan, Munakata Taisha appears in some of the best-known nation’s myths. Dedicated to the goddess Ichikishimahime, the sanctuary boasts an expansive shrine grove that also includes the Shinpokan museum of sacred treasures.

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Restaurant and Café

4. Shop for coffee in a historic house

Hanauta Coffee

Shop for coffee in a historic house

Set in an Edo-period building that used to house a pharmacy, Hanauta is a wonderfully retro café where visitors can take their coffee-sipping up a notch by purchasing packs of freshly ground beans roasted on the premises. Don’t forget to check out the cute wooden toys, crafted out of local camphor wood.

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5. Opt for seaside sushi

Sushi Yatai

Opt for seaside sushi

Grab a counter seat at this gem of a sushi joint to enjoy fresh seafood straight from the nearby Kanezaki port, all while looking out over the Genkai Sea behind the windows. The sake selection is worth a look, too.

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6. Slurp like a local

Sukesan Udon Munakata

Slurp like a local

Fukuoka-style udon – fluffy noodles in seafood-based soy sauce broth, with burdock tempura on top – is the local soul food in the area around Munakata, and nowhere is this simple but astonishingly addictive dish done better than at Sukesan.

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7. Pick up the cutest sweets in town


Pick up the cutest sweets in town

Traditional Japanese confectionery entices the eyes as well as the taste buds, as evidenced by Konowa’s too-pretty-to-eat, all-handmade creations. Their seasonal specials, such as kakigori (shaved ice) in summer and strawberry daifuku in spring, are all available for takeaway.

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8. Appreciate French flavours


Appreciate French flavours

Chef Funakoshi works wonders with local ingredients, turning high-quality veg and fresh fish from the Genkai Sea into refined French cuisine at Franceya, a charming restaurant loved by the locals for two generations already.

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Leisure and Accommodation

9. Take a walk through history


Take a walk through history

Offering visitors a taste of old Japan, the historic Akama township is home to the Akamakan, a traditional house that doubles as a tourist information centre and lets you try your hand at tea ceremony (make sure to book in advance). They also have kimono rental – perfect if you’d like to stroll the nearby streets in style.

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10. Stay in shape

Global Arena

Stay in shape

Tennis courts, running tracks, a well-equipped gym – the Global Arena hotel has everything the active traveller needs. For a fancy and convenient stay, book one of their ‘fellowship residences’, which come with a living room and kitchen.

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