The Kokura Gion The Kokura Gion Festival brings out more than a hundred floats throughout the city. Teams of taiko drummers and cymbal players parade through the city. The festival is associated with Muhoumatsu, the drumming traditional hero.
The port area of Moji incorporates both old and new areas of interest to visitors to Kitakyushu. It includes the Mekari Park of the Seto Inland Sea National Park, waterfront promenades, the “Blue Wing” pedestrian bridge, which is unique in Japan, and many historic structures, including the Old Moji Mitsui Club, where Dr. Albert Einstein once stayed with his wife. Other historic buildings include Mojiko Station, the Mitsui OSK Lines Building, the Kyushu Railways Head Office, and the Moji Yusen Building, all dating back to the Meiji and Taisho eras.
From the observatory in Mekari Park, visitors can take in a grand panoramic view of the glittering straits of Hayatomo-no-Seto between the islands of Kyushu and Honshu, through which large ships glide. Historic Dannoura, which was the scene of the Heike clan’s downfall during Heian era, can also be seen. In another area of the park are wall paintings which depict this famous Battle of Dannoura.
Located near the Sun Bridge of the Murasaki River, Kokura Castle was originally built in 1602 by Lord Tadaoki Hosokawa. Reconstructed in 1963, it now functions as a museum containing a high-tech “Karakuri” theatre which depicts the history of the region in film and animatronics displays. There is also a panoramic model on display in the Castle, which shows the castle town as it existed in the Edo period (1603-1868). Also in the area surrounding Kokura Castle are the Museum of History, which has interesting and informative folk displays spanning the full history of Kitakyushu, and the Museum of Archeology, which includes exhibits from prehistoric to medieval ages, including a model of a dugout earthen house. Just across the “Sun Bridge” is the center of the old Kokura quarter, one of the busiest parts of Kitakyushu. Besides shopping and observing the daily life of Kitakyushu’s citizens, one can visit the old residence of Ogai Mori, one of the great authors of Japan, who lived here in the Meiji erea (1868 to 1912).
Hiraodai Park is Japan’s best example of a karst plateau formation, 22 square kilometers in area and rising 400 to 600 meters above sea level, providing views of the surrounding mountains. The park is a landscape of hills and mountains dotted with pure white limestone, a super example of karst deposits. It also contains quiet and beautiful forests, a meditative waterfall, and the Ojika and Senbutsu Shonyudo stalactite caves. The government of Kitakyushu is working on adopting the “working trust” system of park land occupancy which is common in Britain. In order to protect the natural scenery, the City would operate farms and ranches on the land and use the proceeds from the operations to fund environmental conservation. This is the first system of its kind contemplated in Japan, and another example of the environmental commitment of Kitakyushu.