Kitakyūshū is a city located in Fukuoka Prefecture, on the island of Kyushu, Japan. It is halfway between Tokyo and Shanghai. With the city of Shimonoseki on the island of Honshu, it makes up most of the area of the Kanmon Strait. The current city of Kitakyūshū was founded on February 10, 1963, and was the result of the merger of five cities: Moji, Kokura, Tobata, Yahata, and Wakamatsu.
On April 1, 1963, it became a city assigned by the Japanese government. Kitakyushu is considered an Eco-model city in the Japanese government’s Eco-model cities program for its outstanding improvements and future plans regarding the environment and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
Formerly, this region belonged to Kokura Prefecture which was separated from Fukuoka Prefecture in 1871 when the Japanese feudal system was abolished, but it was reabsorbed by Fukuoka Prefecture; it is in this area that the city of Kokura was founded in 1900. It has become a part of Kitakyushu City in 1963.
Kokura was the target of the ‘Fat Man’ atomic bomb. But Kokura escaped the atomic bomb because the weather was cloudy that day, and in the end, the bomb was dropped on Nagasaki instead.
The most famous place in Kokura is Kokura Castle. The original castle was constructed by the feudal lord Hosokawa Tadaoki in 1606 but burnt down during the civil war before the Meiji Restoration. The castle you can see today was reconstructed in 1959.
From Kokura Station, the largest city in the prefecture, Fukuoka City, can be reached by Shinkansen in 20 minutes.
Moji is a port town facing the Kanmon Strait. In 1889, Moji Port (now part of Kitakyushu Port) was designated as the international trade port by the national government because the Kitakyushu area used to produce a lot of coal, and because of that, its steel industry developed. So a lot of buildings were constructed to facilitate this trade such as a customs office, office of the ships, and trading companies and local government offices.
Now, these buildings are not fully utilized because the importance of the port has become less. But the local people wanted to preserve the historic buildings, so many of these buildings were transformed into museums, shops, and restaurants. The area is now called Mojiko (Moji Port) Retro Area, and it attracts many tourists.
It takes only 15 minutes by local train from Kokura to Mojiko (Moji Port) station.