Before the city of Kitakyushu (北九州市) was founded, Kokura Prefecture was founded separately from Fukuoka Prefecture in 1871 when the clan system was abolished. The old wooden-built Kokura Prefectural Office is still standing. located opposite Riverwalk Kitakyūshū. Kokura, the heart of Kitakyushu, was an ancient feudal castle town guarding the Straits of Shimonoseki. It was the primary target of the second atomic bomb in World War II, but the bomb was dropped in Nagasaki instead due to bad weather conditions. The modern city of Kitakyushu was founded in 1963.
Built in 1602, Kokura Castle was the property of the Ogasawara clan until1860. It was burnt down in 1866 in the war between the Kokura and Chōshū clans. The keep was reconstructed in 1959, and the castle was fully restored in 1990. Visitors can find the Seichō Matsumoto Museum and castle garden in the castle. The old Japanese-style pre-Brunton lighthouse from Shirasu is also in the castle grounds. The area is served by JR Kyushu Line at Kokura Station.
Riverwalk Kitakyushu is a prestigious shopping centre near the Murasaki river. It was opened as part of the Kitakyushu Renaissance (a series of "internationalization" projects) in 2003. It includes theatres, restaurants, a multiplex cinema, NHK studios, the head offices of the Asahi Shinbun, and a branch of the Kitakyushu City Art Museum.
Kyushu Railway was a company that built and operated railways in Kyushu, one of four main islands of Japan. Most of its lines came under the control of Japanese Government Railways following nationalization in 1907. The Kyushu Railway History Museum was established in 2003 to tell the stories of the company and history of railway development in the region. There is also an exhibit on model trains. The red-brick main building of the museum is the former headquarters of Kyushu Railway.
Mojikō Station is a railway station known for its 1914 Neo-Renaissance style architecture. It is a replica of Rome's Termini Station and is designated an Important Cultural Property of Japan. The station opened in 1891. With the privatization of Japanese National Railways (JNR) in 1987, the station came under the control of JR Kyushu. Mojikō Station is the gateway to various tourist attractions and old buildings which have been preserved in the nearby streets under the name Mojikō Retro.
Mojiko Retro is a historic area centered around Mojiko Station. The area boasts many interesting historic buildings. The former Moji Mitsui Club once hosted Dr. Albert Einstein and his wife when they visited Japan in the 1920s. Recent developments along the waterfront include the renovated customs building, and the unique pedestrian Blue Wing drawbridge.
Mekari Shrine is a Shinto shrine located in Mekari Park. The origin of the shrine dates back to the 3rd century and the present main structure was rebuilt in 1767. In the shrine’s Shinto ritual called Mekari Shinji, wakame seaweed is cut from the ocean at low tide and offered to an altar in a ceremony conducted in the early morning hours of the first day of the lunar New Year. The ritual is thought to bring about good luck and has been designated an Intangible Folk Cultural Asset. From the shrine, the Kanmon Straits and Kanmom Bridge can be seen. The area is served by the Mojikoretrokanko Line at Kanmonkaikyo Mekari Station.
Toto Museum is a novelty museum that showcases aspects of toilets. Founded in 1917, the Kitakyushu-based Toto Ltd. is the world's largest toilet manufacturer. The name "Toto" is an abbreviation of the two Japanese words forming its full name, Tōyō Tōki (Oriental Ceramics). The museum was opened to celebrate its 100th anniversary and is housed in the company's headquarter. Exhibits cover the history of Toto, old toilet seats including the very first ceramic flush toilet seat developed in 1914, and a wide variety of toilet bowls, washlets, urinals, bath tubs and fittings.
Kawachi Wisteria (fuji) Garden is a garden famous for its massive wisteria vines. The garden has two peak seasons: the wisteria season in late spring and the maple leaf season in fall. Hundreds of wisteria trees of different kinds and colours, ranging from white to dark purple, form a 100-metre long pergola. In recent years, the garden has become very popular for both domestic and international visitors for a spectacular view. Note that it can be very crowded during the wisteria season and therefore more time should be allocated for this attraction.