Fukuoka, Japan Feb. 28 Wed 11:11AM
True to its name, Fukuoka Prefecture’s Kitakyushu (“North Kyushu”) is Kyushu’s northernmost city, and has acted as a gateway between Kyushu and Honshu since ancient times. It is mainly an industrial destination, and one of the key spots of the so-called Meiji Inhdustrial Revolution, and contains Japan’s first modern steel mill. It retains some of this early modern era vibe, with layers of rapid change in the past left to the present as is. For that reason it’s a unique and insightful destination for those looking to get a multifaceted perspective on Japan.
One of Kitakyushu’s most attractive destinations is Moji Port, where international trading ships had been docking their boats for over a hundred years. This yesterday is visible today, and the port has become a place to enjoy a relaxing, retro atmosphere, perfect for a stroll on a cloudy day. The night view of the atmospheric historic buildings casting their light into the bay is also moving. Far before bananas were completely ubiquitous everywhere in the world, they were imported from Southeast Asia into this very port. How about muching on one while gazing at the sea? Or if you’re a little more hungry, try the hyper-local delicacy, “Yaki Curry,” a baked variation of Japan’s beloved curry rice.
If you like your history a little older, try Kokura Castle, whose grounds date from the early Edo Period, The surrounding Katsuyama Park is a popular cherry blossom spot, but the historic buildings and Japanese garden make it worth a visit any time of year.
Anime and manga fans will not want to miss the Kitakyushu Manga museum, which has an extensive manga library dating from the 1940s to the present day, with an emphasis on manga with some association with Kitakyushu. Any Leiji Matsumoto fans out there? Galaxy Express 999 was created in Kitakyushu, and if that means anything to you it might be worth visiting the city just to see the bronze Captain Harlock, Maetel,and Tetsuro statues located outside Kokura Station.