Designated city
City of Kitakyushu[1]

Clockwise from Top, River-walk Kitakyushu, Kokura Castle, Mojiko railroad Station, former site of Higashida blast fumace, Night view of Kokura from Mount Adachi, Tanga Market in Kokura



Location of Kitakyushu in Fukuoka Prefecture

Location in Japan

Coordinates: 33°53′N 130°53′E / 33.883°N 130.883°E / 33.883; 130.883Coordinates: 33°53′N 130°53′E / 33.883°N 130.883°E / 33.883; 130.883
Country Japan
Region Kyushu
Prefecture Fukuoka Prefecture
  Mayor Kenji Kitahashi
  Total 486.81 km2 (187.96 sq mi)
Population (January 1, 2010)
  Total 983,037
  Density 2,019.34/km2 (5,230.1/sq mi)
  Tree Ichiigashi (Japanese beech)
  Flower Tsutsuji (Azalea)
Himawari (Sunflower)
Time zone Japan Standard Time (UTC+9)
City hall address 1-1 Jōnai, Kokura Kita-ku, Kitakyushu-shi, Fukuoka-ken

Kitakyushu (北九州市 Kitakyūshū-shi, "North Kyushu") is one of two designated cities in Fukuoka Prefecture, Japan, together with Fukuoka, with a population of over 1 million people.


Kokura Prefecture

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, and is being restored. It is opposite Riverwalk Kitakyūshū. In 1876, Kokura Prefecture was absorbed by Fukuoka Prefecture. The city of Kokura was founded in 1900.

World War II

Yahata in Kitakyushu was the target for the beginning of the US bombing raids on the home islands on June 16, 1944, when 75 Boeing B-29 Superfortresses flew out from mainland China.[2]

Kokura was the primary target of the nuclear weapon "Fat Man" on August 9, 1945. Major Charles Sweeney had orders to drop the bomb visually, but all three attempts failed due to clouds and smoke from Yahata, which is located only 7 km west of Kokura and had air raids on the previous day, preventing Sweeney from identifying the target clearly. Additionally, a smoke screen was created by industrial workers burning barrels of coal tar, and/or electric plant workers releasing steam.[3][4] The bomb was ultimately dropped on the city of Nagasaki, the secondary target, at 11:02 JST.


Kitakyushu has seven wards (ku):

Name Japanese Area (km²)
(administrative center)
小倉北区 39.27
Kokuraminami-ku 小倉南区 170.25
Moji-ku 門司区 73.37
Tobata-ku 戸畑区 16.66
Yahatahigashi-ku 八幡東区 36.36
Yahatanishi-ku 八幡西区 83.04
Wakamatsu-ku 若松区 67.86

The city of Nakama, Fukuoka was to become the eighth ward of Kitakyushu in 2005 (to be called Nakama-ku). However, the planned merger was rejected on December 24, 2004 by Nakama's city council, despite having been initiated by Nakama City.

City of Kitakyushu

The city of Kitakyushu was founded on February 10, 1963 and was designated on April 1, 1963 by government ordinance. The city was born from the merger of five municipalities (Moji, Kokura, Tobata, Yahata and Wakamatsu) centered around the ancient feudal city of Kokura. The city's symbol mark is a flower with the character "north" ( kita) in the middle and five petals representing the five towns which merged.


As of April 1, 2014, the city has an estimated population of 963,267 and a total area of 489.60 km².[5] The average population density is thus 1,967 persons per km². It is now the country's 15th most populated city.[5] The city has a much larger total area than that of Fukuoka which is only 340.03 km².


The 1986 family movie Koneko Monogatari was filmed here. The English version of the film, which is the story of the friendship of a kitten and a pug dog, was released in America in 1989 as The Adventures of Milo and Otis.

The 1958 comedy Rickshaw Man is based on a local folk hero of Kokura called Muhomatsu or "Wild Pine" and has been called the Japanese Desperado. He is celebrated in the Kokura Gion Yamagasa festival. Toshiro Mifune plays the taiko drum in this movie.


There are several local festivals (matsuri) held in the summer in various parts of the city, including the Tobata Gion Yamagasa festival in Tobata-ku, Kitakyūshū.

Kurosaki Gion (July)

It has been designated as an intangible cultural asset of Fukuoka Prefecture. People spin highly decorated “battle floats” as they pull them through the streets.[6]

Tobata Gion (July)

People carry yamagasa (tiered floats decorated with flags by day and lanterns by night) on their shoulders.

Kokura Gion (July)

People pull yamagasa parade floats along the street.

All the Gion festivals date back about 400 years. They were instituted to celebrate having survived an epidemic.[7]

Moji Minato Festival (May)

This port-city festival involves colorfully costumed people pulling floats through the streets.[8]

Wakamatsu Minato Festival (July)

This port-city festival celebrates fire, drums, and kappa (mythical amphibious creatures who love cucumbers).[9]

Wasshoi Hyakuman Festival (August)

The Wasshoi Hyakuman Natsumatsuri brings all the festivals together for a grand parade and finale near the City Hall in Kokura Kita ward. Kitakyushu was formed by the merging of Kokura, Yahata, Wakamatsu, Moji, and Tobata. As a result, the city began, on its tenth anniversary, to combine these local festivals into one. On the 25th anniversary, it was renamed Wasshoi Hyakuman because the city population had then reached one million.

Green Park Flea Market (monthly, except August and December)

There are over 200 shops.[10]

Center for Contemporary Art (CCA) Kitakyushu

The Center for Contemporary Art opened in May 1997 and has during the past years shown works of internationally renowned artists e.g. Maurizio Cattelan and Anri Sala.

Notable places

Kokura Castle in central Kokura

Kokura Castle (小倉城 Kokura-jō) was built by Hosokawa Tadaoki in 1602. It was the property of the Ogasawara clan (from Harima) between 1632 and 1860. The castle was burnt down in 1865 in the war between the Kokura and Choshu clans.

Hiraodai (平尾台, lit. Flat Tail Plateau) karst plateau and Mount Adachi (足立山 Adachi-san) in Kokura Minami ward and Mount Sarakura (皿倉山 Sarakura-san) and Kawachi Dam (河内貯水池 Kawachi-chosuichi) in Yahata Higashi ward are all noted walking areas with fine scenery. The limestone outcroppings on Hiraodai are said to resemble grazing sheep, so the plateau, the highest in Kyushu at 400–600 meters, is also known as the Yogun Plain. Some of the limestone caverns are open to the public.[11] The area also contains the Sugao and Nanae Waterfalls. Sugao is about 20 meters. Nanae literally means Seven Stages Waterfalls.

Space World is an ice rink and amusement park in Kitayusha. In November 2016 the ice rink froze 5,000 fish under the ice. This sparked protests and Space World apologized.[12]


Kitakyushu MEA

Nippon Steel Corporation is still a major employer but the Yahata and Tobata plants are much reduced from the heyday of the 1960s. The Zenrin company known for its mapping and navigation software is based here, and so is Toto Ltd.[13] and Yaskawa Electric Corporation.[14] StarFlyer, an airline, is headquartered on the grounds of Kitakyushu Airport in Kokuraminami-ku, Kitakyūshū.[15] Previously the airline's headquarters were in the Shin Kokura Building (新小倉ビル Shin-Kokura Biru) in Kokurakita-ku, Kitakyūshū.[16][17]

Colet Izutsuya department store (formerly Isetan and originally Sogo department store)

A smaller scale shopping centre called Cha Cha Town has been created by the Nishi-Nippon Railroad and bus company next to the Sunatsu bus depot in Kokura Kita ward.

In 2009 Bridgestone Corporation opened a plant in Kitakyushu to produce large and ultralarge off-the-road radial tires for construction and mining vehicles.

The GDP in Greater Kitakyushu, Kitakyushu Metropolitan Employment Area, is US$55.7 billion in 2010.[18][19]


Located at a strategic position on the south side of the Kanmon Straits, Kitakyushu is an important transport hub for traffic between Honshu and Kyushu and has a large port.


Kokura Station, the city's central train station, is the penultimate stop on the JR West Sanyō Shinkansen before the Fukuoka terminus and all Shinkansen services stop here. It is also served by local and express trains on JR Kyushu's Kagoshima and Nippō Main Lines. Within the city, transport is provided the Kitakyushu Monorail and buses.

Mojikō Station in Moji-ku is the northern terminus of the Kagoshima Main Line, the most important line in the JR Kyushu network.

A tram network operated by the Nishi-Nippon Railroad known as the Kitakyushu Line once operated within the city, but after dwindling passenger numbers in the 1970s the line was shut down in stages between 1980 and 2000. A railway using tram cars, the Chikuhō Electric Railroad, runs between Kurosaki-Ekimae and Chikuhō-Nōgata stations, serving Yahatanishi-ku and the neighboring city of Nōgata.


The present Kitakyushu Airport opened on March 16, 2006. It is larger than the previous airport and supports 24-hour operations thanks to its location on an artificial island in the Seto Inland Sea. It will eventually be connected with Kokura Station by a new fast rail link. A new airline based in the city called StarFlyer began operations when the airport opened.


Wakato Ferry

Kitakyushu is the largest ferry port in Kyushu, Chūgoku, and Shikoku. Ferry services operate between Kitakyushu and Shimonoseki, Matsuyama, Tokushima, Kōbe, Ōsaka, Tokyo, Ulsan (Korea), Busan (Korea) and isolated islands within the city limits. The main ferry port is at Shin-Moji, but there are also ferries at Moji and near Kokura Station.

Within the Kanmon-Kitakyushu area, there are three commuter lines: the Wakato Ferry, the Kanmon Straits Ferry, and the Kanmon Straits Liner.



The metropolitan area of Kitakyushu is covered by the Kitakyushu Expressway, which has 5 routes serving the city, totaling 53 kilometers of 4-lane expressways. Some of these expressways are elevated, especially around the city center. Route 1 serves the city center, while route 2 serves the port area. Route 3 is a short connector between routes 1 and 2, and route 4 is the longest of the Kitakyushu Expressway network, and serving most of the city from north to south. The final route 5 is a short link serving the inner port area. In addition, Kitakyushu is bypassed by the Kyushu Expressway, the main north-south route on the island of Kyushu. The new Higashikyushu Expressway begins in Kitakyushu and runs along the eastern coast of Kyushu. North of Kitakyushu, the Kyushu Expressway crosses the six-lane Kanmonkyo Bridge and turns into the Chūgoku Expressway, the second longest expressway of Japan, serving western Honshu.


There are several bridges in Kitakyushu and between the city and other places. The largest ones are the Kanmonkyo Bridge linking Kitakyushu and Shimonoseki (on Kyushu and Honshū respectively) via the Kanmon Straits and the Wakato Bridge linking the wards of Tobata and Wakamatsu. There are smaller bridges over the Onga River on the western border of the city.

On September 30, 2005, ownership of the Wakato Bridge was transferred from Japan Highway Public Corporation to Kitakyushu; on April 1, 2006 the bridge was transferred to the control of the Kitakyushu City Road Public Corporation.

Notable figures

Mori Ōgai's house in Kokura Kita ward






Universities and colleges

National universities

Public universities

Private universities

Junior colleges

Technology colleges

Research Institutes and graduate Schools


Professional teams

Sporting venues

Honjo stadium.

Sister cities

Kitakyushu is twinned with the following five cities outside Japan.[22]

And one city in Japan is twinned with Kitakyushu city.


  1. Kitakyushu's official English name
  2. Shigeru Mizuki, A History of Japan Vol 3 Showa 1944-1953, p.152
  3. "Steel mill worker reveals blocking view of U.S. aircraft on day of Nagasaki atomic bombing". Mainichi. Mainichi Japan. 26 July 2014. Retrieved 29 July 2014.
  4. "Nagasaki: The Last Bomb". The New Yorker. The New Yorker. 7 August 2015. Retrieved 8 August 2015.
  5. 1 2
  6. Kurosaki Gion Yamakasa (Float) Festival | Event Information | Fukuoka Prefecture Sightseeing Information Crossroad Fukuoka. Retrieved on 2013-12-09.
  7. Kokura Gion | Fukuoka Internet TV. Retrieved on 2013-12-09.
  8. 北九州ぐるりん観光ナビ【門司みなと祭】. Retrieved on 2013-12-09.
  9. Festivals. Retrieved on 2013-12-09.
  10. フリーマーケット出店者の皆様へお知らせ - グリーンパーク【響灘緑地】. Retrieved on 2013-12-09.
  11. Kyushu's Must-See Tourist Spots. 2010. |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help); Missing or empty |title= (help)
  12. "Japan skating rink criticised for freezing 5,000 fish in ice". The Irish Times. Retrieved 2016-11-28.
  13. "Corporate Data." TOTO. Retrieved on April 9, 2014.
  14. "Corporate Data." Yaskawa Electric Corporation. Retrieved on April 9, 2014.
  15. "会社概要." StarFlyer. Retrieved on December 20, 2010. "本社 〒800-0306 福岡県北九州市小倉南区空港北町6番 北九州空港スターフライヤー本社ビル"
  16. "Company Profile." StarFlyer. Retrieved on May 26, 2009. "Location Shin-Kokura Bldg.,2-2-1 Komemachi Kokurakita-ku, Kitakyusyu-shi Fukuoka 802-0003 JPN"
  17. "会社概要." StarFlyer. March 24, 2008. Retrieved on December 20, 2010. "本社 〒802-0003 福岡県北九州市小倉北区米町二丁目2番1号 新小倉ビル JR小倉駅より徒歩10分."
  18. Yoshitsugu Kanemoto. "Metropolitan Employment Area (MEA) Data". Center for Spatial Information Science, The University of Tokyo.
  19. Conversion rates - Exchange rates - OECD Data
  20. 175R – Free listening, concerts, stats, & pictures at. Retrieved on 2013-12-09.
  21. "1000 Travels of Jawaharlal".
  22. Kitakyushu Sister Cities. Retrieved 25 January 2015/ (Japanese)
  23. "姉妹都市・交流都市". Minamikyushu city official site. Minamikyushu city. Retrieved 23 February 2015.
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