Feudalism, festivals and flowers.
A feudal castle town turned manufacturing heartland, Kitakyushu is known for its cutting-edge innovations in eco-friendly technology and its lively, unforgettable festivals within Fukuoka Prefecture.
Kitakyushu, the second-largest city in the southern region of Kyushu, is named after its position at the northernmost point of the region. The city was created in 1963 through a merger of five cities; Kokura, Tobata, Yahata, Wakamatsu and Moji. The unique history, traditions, and natural beauty of each city blend together to give Kitakyushu its unique personality.
Here, the locals truly understand the definition of “work hard, play hard!” which makes it a totally memorable trip while in Japan’s sunny southern region.
The pride of Kitakyushu is Kokura Castle, a reconstruction of an Edo-era castle first built in 1602. The castle was fully restored in 1990 and overlooks a splendid garden. In late March, the castle grounds become awash in cherry blossoms, making it a picturesque location for hanami (flower viewing).
The castle also serves as a backdrop to two of Kitakyushu’s most spectacular summer festivals, Kokura Gion Daiko and the Wasshoi Hyakuman Summer Festival.
The birthplace of the modern Japanese toilet
Kitakyushu is also home to the headquarters of Toto, which is known for its high-tech Washlet brand toilets. At the Toto Museum, visitors can learn how the company transformed from a humble porcelain maker to the leading name in bathroom innovation through interactive exhibits.
Kitakyushu is also home to the headquarters of Toto.
For the full experience, be sure to try a washlet for yourself in the futuristic public restrooms! The first floor of the museum has a showroom where you can see all of the latest Toto products. The best part? It’s all completely free.
A perfectly preserved port town
Moji Port is a captivating historic district known for its fascinating museums, seaside promenade, and delicious culinary specialty: baked curry.
Moji became an affluent international port in the late 19th century, and many of the Western-style buildings of the era, including the glorious neo-renaissance style Mojiko Station, are still standing in pristine condition. Besides the train station, one of the most notable buildings is the Former Moji Mitsui Club, where Albert Einstein and his wife Elsa stayed during their trip to Japan in 1922.
Every summer, Moji Port hosts the massively popular Kanmon Straits Fireworks Festival. Moji and the city of Shimonoseki (across the way in Yamaguchi Prefecture), fire over 15,000 fireworks in a battle to see who can create the biggest spectacle.
Don’t miss the beautiful holiday illuminations in December. The holiday illuminations light up the charming brick buildings along the port front. Together with the passing ships, they create a picturesque and oh-so-romantic atmosphere.
Manga, anime and games ga lore
The world of manga (Japanese comics) comes alive at the Kitakyushu Manga Museum. It’s located on the top floor of Aru Aru City shopping mall, an otaku’s paradise full of manga, anime, video game and cosplay shops.
The Kitakyushu Manga Museum not only introduces the history and process of creating manga, but it also pays homage to its home-grown manga artists. One of the most famous of these artists is Leiji Matsumoto, the man behind classic manga such as Space Battleship Yamato. The museum also features rotating exhibits, workshops, and a reading zone with 50,000 books to choose from. Once you’ve finished browsing the museum, you can shop to your heart’s content at Aru Aru City.
A botanical dream world
Step into a floral wonderland at Kawachi Wisteria Garden (Map), where spectacular tunnels of fragrant purple and white wisterias wind along the lush mountainside of Mount Sarakura. The tunnels, which measure 80 and 110 meters respectively, have over 22 varieties of wisterias to enjoy.
The garden is open from the middle of April through the middle of May, but peak season is typically at the end of April through the beginning of May. Because the flowers are only in bloom for a brief time, it is necessary to reserve your desired date and time by purchasing a ticket for ¥500 at a convenience store. Tickets sell out quickly, so it’s best to purchase them ASAP.
The garden reopens from late November through early December, when visitors can enjoy the autumn foliage of over 700 maple trees.