Serving as a gateway between the islands of Honshu and Kyushu, Kitakyushu is a vibrant city with a rich Meiji-era legacy. It’s home to magnificent wisteria gardens and a fascinating castle, as well as a handful of quirky museums.
Things to do in Kitakyushu
Nestled in the wooded hills to the south of Kitakyushu is the beautiful Kawachi Wisteria Garden, which features two long tunnels draped in various wisteria trees. Visit in the spring when the wisteria is in full bloom or soak up the stunning valley views overlooking the surrounding bamboo groves year-round.
Lovers of Japanese comics should visit the Kitakyushu Manga Museum, found within the manga-dedicated mall of Aru-Aru City. Discover the work of prominent local manga artist, Matsumoto Leiji, wander through the “Manga Time Tunnel” and peruse the comic book library that focuses on artists with affiliations to Kitakyushu.
Interested in the evolution of the humble toilet? Visit the Toto Museum, housed within a striking white building at the Toto company headquarters. Learn about the creation of the first ceramic flush toilet seat in 1914 and the company’s modern “washlets", complete with heated seats, automated lid openings and music to mask your ablutions.
Explore the recreated 17th-century Kokura Castle that stands within the popular cherry blossom viewing park of Katsuyama. Learn about the castle’s history through the modern displays and soak up the panoramic views from the top floor, then admire the Japanese pond garden from the tatami rooms of its traditional Shoin-style building.
Getting around Kitakyushu
Kitakyushu Airport is around 30 minutes’ drive away and there are regular train connections to Tokyo, Hiroshima and Osaka. A monorail travels throughout the city, while local buses travel throughout Kitakyushu.