Since the days when the Heian court gave birth to elegant poets and “The Tale of Genji”, one of the world’s oldest novels, Japan has cultivated a rich literary heritage that continues to captivate the world through the work of authors like Haruki Murakami and Banana Yoshimoto. By combining a trip to Tokyo with an excursion to Fukuoka, you can experience how Japanese culture spans time and geography, while sampling its varied landscape and culinary delights.
Fly into Tokyo via Haneda airport and head to Shinjuku, where you’ll check in at Book and Bed Tokyo. A bibliophile’s paradise, this unique concept hostel lets you tuck yourself away in a cosy nook behind amply stocked bookshelves. Browse thousands of works from every genre, in English and Japanese, including classic Japanese comics, and pick one to take you into blissful slumber.
But before bedtime, be sure to venture out to see the lights of nearby Shibuya Crossing, a world-famous landmark that embodies the bustle and glitz of modern Tokyo. Shibuya is continually cementing its status at Tokyo’s cutting edge, with a range of high-profile buildings opening through to 2027. Among them is the stunning Shibuya Stream, an impressively designed building beside one of the picturesque rivers that wind through the city.
By day, complete your connoisseur’s view of Tokyo with a visit to the Nezu Museum, about seven minutes’ walk from Omote-sando Station, one stop from Shibuya. Founded in 1940, it displays the exquisite collection of antique Japanese and East-Asian art of Nezu Kaichiro, once the president of a private railway that serves Tokyo and its surrounds. Exhibition spaces designed by star architect Kengo Kuma sit surrounded by a lush and expansive Japanese garden where visitors can savour the passage of the seasons.
Then fly from Haneda airport to Fukuoka, a trip of around an hour and a half that will show you another side of Japanese culture. The largest city on the island of Kyushu, Fukuoka incorporates the ancient port of Hakata, long a centre of commerce with other great cities of the East.
In the heart of the city, you’ll find Acros Fukuoka, an exhibition and conference centre nestled beneath the 14-floor stepped garden that is one of Fukuoka’s most iconic sites. Acros itself includes an 1,800-seat symphony hall where you can take in masterful concert performances and see exhibitions of local arts and crafts.
Tenjin Station, right near Acros, is also where you can depart for brunch aboard the Rail Kitchen Chikugo. Amid interiors decorated with local materials and artworks, you can feast on meticulously plated dishes produced with regional ingredients while taking in the scenery along the way to Dazaifu Station, where you’ll find another of Fukuoka’s most renowned sights.
The spectacular Dazaifu Tenmangu shrine was built to commemorate Sugawara Michizane, a government official of the ninth and tenth centuries now worshipped as Tenjin, the god of literature and learning. Round out your cultural pilgrimage in its gardens, home to camphor and plum trees, as well as Japanese irises, which have inspired many generations of artists and poets. From there, you can return to Fukuoka and continue to explore or head back to Tokyo and home, filled with fresh inspiration.