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City of Kitakyushu [1]
Kitakyushu montage2.jpg
Clockwise from top: the Riverwalk shopping center; Kokura Castle; Mojiko Station; the former Higashida blast furnace; a night view of Kokura from Mount Adachi; the Tanga Market in Kokura
Flag of Kitakyushu, Fukuoka.svg
Symbol of Kitakyushu, Fukuoka.svg
Location of Kitakyushu in Fukuoka Prefecture
Kitakyushu in Fukuoka Prefecture Ja.svg
Japan location map with side map of the Ryukyu Islands.svg
Red pog.svg
Location in Japan
Coordinates: 33°53′N130°53′E / 33.883°N 130.883°E / 33.883; 130.883 Coordinates: 33°53′N130°53′E / 33.883°N 130.883°E / 33.883; 130.883
Region Kyushu
Prefecture Fukuoka Prefecture
  Mayor Kenji Kitahashi
  Total491.95 km2 (189.94 sq mi)
 (June 1, 2019)
  Density1,900/km2 (5,000/sq mi)
Time zone UTC+09:00 (JST)
City hall address1-1 Jōnai, Kokura Kita-ku, Kitakyushu-shi, Fukuoka-ken
FlowerTsutsuji (Azalea)
Himawari (Sunflower)
TreeIchiigashi (Japanese beech)

Kitakyushu (Japanese: 北九州市, Hepburn: Kitakyūshū-shi) is a city located in Fukuoka Prefecture, Japan. As of June 1, 2019, Kitakyushu has an estimated population of 940,978, making it the second-largest city in both Fukuoka Prefecture and the island of Kyushu after the city of Fukuoka. It is one of Japan's 20 designated cities, one of three on Kyushu, and is divided into seven wards.


Kitakyushu was formed in 1963 from a merger of municipalities centered on the historic city of Kokura, and its name literally means "North Kyushu City" in Japanese. It is located at the northernmost point of Kyushu on the Kanmon Straits, separating the island from Honshu, across from the city of Shimonoseki. Kitakyushu and Shimonoseki are connected by numerous transport links including the Kanmon Bridge and the Kanmon Tunnels. Kitakyushu's Urban Employment Area forms part of the Fukuoka-Kitakyushu Greater Metropolitan Region, which, with a population of 5,738,977 (2005-2006), is the largest metropolitan area in Japan west of the Keihanshin region.


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. All three attempts failed due to clouds and smoke from Yahata, which is only 7 km west of Kokura and had air raids on the previous day, preventing him 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.


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 towns that merged.

Geography and administrative divisions


As of 1 October 2018, the city had an estimated population of 945,595 and a total area of 491.95 km2 (189.94 sq mi). [5] The average population density is 1,922 persons /km2 (4,980/sq mi). It is now the country's 15th most populated city. [5] It has a much larger total area than that of Fukuoka which is only 343.39 km2 (132.58 sq mi). [5]


Kitakyushu has seven wards (ku):

Wards of Kitakyushu
Place NameMap of Kitakyushu
Rōmaji Kanji ColorLand area in km2
1 Kokurakita-ku
(administrative center)
小倉北区 Japan WardColour 100x80x0.png 39.27

Kitakyushu wards.png

2 Kokuraminami-ku 小倉南区 Japan WardColour 20x80x40.png 170.25
3 Moji-ku 門司区 Japan WardColour 100x40x100.png 73.37
4 Tobata-ku 戸畑区 Japan WardColour 100x0x0.png 16.66
5 Yahatahigashi-ku 八幡東区 Japan WardColour 0x40x100.png 36.36
6 Yahatanishi-ku 八幡西区 Japan WardColour 60x80x0.png 83.04
7 Wakamatsu-ku 若松区 Japan WardColour 100x40x0.png 67.86

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



Map of the Kitakyushu Metropolitan Employment Area Kitakyushu Metropolitan Employment Area.svg
Map of the Kitakyushu Metropolitan Employment Area
The Colet Izutsuya department store (formerly known as Isetan and, before that, Sogo) Colet, I'm 20130719.jpg
The Colet Izutsuya department store (formerly known as Isetan and, before that, Sogo)
Riverwalk Kitakyushu and Kokura Castle moat Riverwalk Kitakyushu.jpg
Riverwalk Kitakyūshū and Kokura Castle moat

Nippon Steel Corporation is a major employer, but the Yahata and Tobata plants are much reduced from their heyday of the 1960s. The Zenrin company known for its mapping and navigation software is based here [6] and so is Toto Ltd. [7] and Yaskawa Electric Corporation. [8] StarFlyer, an airline, is headquartered on the grounds of Kitakyushu Airport in Kokuraminami-ku, Kitakyūshū. [9] Previously the airline's headquarters were in the Shin Kokura Building (新小倉ビル, Shin-Kokura Biru) in Kokurakita-ku, Kitakyūshū. [10] [11]

A smaller scale shopping center known as Cha Cha Town, next to the Sunatsu bus depot in Kokura Kita ward, was created by the Nishi-Nippon Railroad and bus company.

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 was US$55.7 billion in 2010. [12] [13]


Kyushu Institute of Technology(KIT) Kit front gate.jpg
Kyushu Institute of Technology(KIT)

Universities and colleges

National universities

Public universities

Private universities

Junior colleges

Technology colleges

Vocational colleges

  • Kyushu Medical Sports School

Research Institutes and graduate Schools


Kitakyushu Airport Kitakyusyu air.jpg
Kitakyushu Airport
Kitakyushu Expressway Higashida Blast Furnace Memorial Square 2.jpg
Kitakyushu Expressway
Kitakyushu Monorail Kitakyushu Urban Monorail Type1000.jpg
Kitakyushu Monorail
Wakato Ferry Wakato ferry.jpg
Wakato Ferry

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.



The Kitakyushu Airport opened on March 16, 2006. It is larger than the previous Kokura 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.


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 served by local and express trains on JR Kyushu's Kagoshima and Nippō Main Lines. In 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 in the city; 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 metropolitan area of Kitakyushu is covered by the Kitakyushu Expressway, which has five routes serving the city, totaling 53 kilometers of four-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, serving most of the city from north to south. 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 in 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.



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 in the city limits. The main ferry port is at Shin-Moji, and there are ferries at Moji and near Kokura Station.

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

Notable places

Kokura Castle in central Kokura Kokura castle from the Japanese garden.jpg
Kokura Castle in central Kokura
Night Views of Kitakyushu from Mount Sarakura Night Views from Mount Sarakura 20170527-8.jpg
Night Views of Kitakyushu from Mount Sarakura

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. [14] The area contains the Sugao and Nanae Waterfalls. Sugao is about 20 meters. Nanae means "seven stages."


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.

Kitakyushu is featured in the late 2012 Call of Duty: Black Ops II game developed by Treyarch and published by Activision as a DLC map called Magma. In the map the city has been abandoned due to a volcanic eruption, and parts of the city are completely covered in lava.


There are festivals (matsuri) held in the summer in 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. [15]

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 surviving an epidemic. [16]

Moji Minato Festival (May)

This port-city festival involves colorfully costumed people pulling floats through the streets. [17]

Wakamatsu Minato Festival (July)

This port-city festival celebrates fire, drums, and kappa (mythical amphibious creatures who love cucumbers). [18]

Wasshoi Hyakuman Festival (August)

The Wasshoi Hyakuman Natsumatsuri brings all the festivals together for a grand parade and finale near 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 reached one million.

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

There are over 200 shops. [19]

Center for Contemporary Art (CCA) Kitakyushu.

The Center for Contemporary Art opened in May 1997 by former Japan Foundation chief curator Nobuo Nakamura and Akiko Miyake. The centre has shown works of internationally renowned artists such as Maurizio Cattelan and Anri Sala, and runs an internationally acclaimed studio programme for emerging artists.


Kitakyushu was selected as the host of the 2021 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships and the 2021 Rhythmic Gymnastics World Championships, both of which will take place in October 2021. The artistic gymnastics championship will take place in Kitakyushu City General Gymnasium, while the rhythmic competition will be contested in the West Japan Exhibition Centre. [20]

Professional teams

Sporting venues

Honjo stadium. Japan v Tonga at Kitakyushu.JPG
Honjo stadium.

Sister cities

Kitakyushu is twinned with the following cities outside Japan. [21]

One city in Japan is twinned with Kitakyushu city.

Notable figures

Mori Ogai's house in Kokura Kita ward Mori Ogai house Kokura.jpg
Mori Ōgai's house in Kokura Kita ward






Film directors


Related Research Articles

Fukuoka Prefecture Prefecture of Japan

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Nakama, Fukuoka City in Kyushu, Japan

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Kokura Ancient castle town in Fukuoka prefecture, Japan

Kokura is an ancient castle town and the center of Kitakyushu, Japan, guarding the Straits of Shimonoseki between Honshu and Kyushu with its suburb Moji. Kokura is also the name of the penultimate station on the southbound San'yō Shinkansen line, which is owned by JR West. Ferries connect Kokura with Matsuyama on Shikoku, and Busan in South Korea.

Onga District, Fukuoka

Onga is a district located in Fukuoka Prefecture, Japan.

Fukuoka–Kitakyushu Urban Employment Area in Fukuoka Prefecture

Fukuoka-Kitakyushu Greater Metropolitan Region is the most common name given to the region comprising the metropolitan areas of the cities of Fukuoka and Kitakyushu in Fukuoka Prefecture, Japan and in between. Alternate names are many, including Kitakyushu-Fukuoka Greater Metropolitan Region (北九州・福岡大都市圏), Northern Part of Kyushu Greater Metropolitan Region (北部九州大都市圏)

Tobata-ku, Kitakyūshū

Tobata-ku (戸畑区) is a ward of Kitakyūshū, Fukuoka, Japan. It is the smallest ward of Kitakyūshū city at 16.66 km². The population was 64,330 as of the national census in 2000.

Kanmon Straits stretch of water separating Honshu and Kyushu in Japan

The Kanmon Straits or the Straits of Shimonoseki is the stretch of water separating Honshu and Kyushu, two of Japan's four main islands. On the Honshu side of the strait is Shimonoseki and on the Kyushu side is Kitakyushu, whose former city and present ward, Moji, gave the strait its "mon". The straits silt up at the rate of about 15 centimetres per annum, and dredging has made it possible to build the Kitakyushu Airport at low cost.

Kokuraminami-ku, Kitakyūshū

Kokuraminami-ku (小倉南区) is a ward of Kitakyūshū, Fukuoka, Japan. It is the southern part of what used to be Kokura City, which was merged into Kitakyūshū city when the latter was created out of the merger of five cities in 1963. At this time Kokura was divided into North and South wards.

Kokurakita-ku, Kitakyūshū Ward of Kitakyūshū in Fukuoka Prefecture, Japan

Kokurakita-ku (小倉北区) is a ward of Kitakyūshū, Fukuoka, Japan. It is the north part of what used to be Kokura City before the merger of five cities to create the new city of Kitakyūshū in 1963. JR Kyūshū's Kokura Station is the main rail hub of Kitakyūshū, and the Sanyō Shinkansen stops there. It has a population of 184,545 persons as of the 2000 national census and an area of 39.27 km².

Moji-ku, Kitakyūshū

Moji-ku (門司区) is a Japanese ward of the city of Kitakyushu in Fukuoka Prefecture. It is the former city of Moji which was one of five merged to create Kitakyūshū in 1963. It faces the city of Shimonoseki across the Kanmon Straits between Honshū and Kyūshū.

Yahatanishi-ku, Kitakyūshū

Yahatanishi-ku (八幡西区) is a ward of Kitakyūshū, Fukuoka, Japan. It covers 83.04 square kilometres, and had a population of 260,318 in January, 2005. The ward contains JR Kurosaki Station, and JR Orio Station on the Kagoshima Main Line, with several schools and universities nearby. It is chiefly a residential area, bounded by the Onga river in the West.

Tobata Gion Yamagasa festival

The Tobata Gion Yamagasa festival (戸畑祇園山笠) is a popular local Japanese festival (matsuri) which takes place annually in Tobata, a ward of Kitakyushu in Fukuoka prefecture, Kyūshū, Japan. It is held for three days (Friday–Sunday) before and after the fourth Saturday of July. The festival is a national cultural asset of Japan, and is centred on the parading of the "Yamagasa" (山笠).

Kitakyushu Municipal Museum of Art

The Kitakyushu Municipal Museum of Art is located in Tobata-ku, Kitakyushu, Fukuoka Prefecture, Japan. Designed by Arata Isozaki, it sits on a hill straddling the three wards of Kokura Kita, Tobata, and Yahata Higashi. The museum houses more than 6,000 pieces of art, as well as offering various exhibitions throughout the year. The surrounding park not only offers a pleasant view over Tobata but is also a peaceful oasis with artwork in the form of sculptures scattered throughout.

Kitakyushu Monorail

The Kitakyushu Monorail is a monorail system in the city of Kitakyushu in Fukuoka Prefecture, Japan, operated by Kitakyushu Urban Monorail Co. Ltd..

Kyushu Expressway

Kyushu Expressway is one of the Expressways of Japan from Kitakyūshū to west of Kagoshima linking with the Higashikyushu Expressway and the Ibusuki Skyline. It runs through the prefectures of Fukuoka, the eastern half of the Saga, Kumamoto, Miyazaki and the Kagoshima prefectures. The freeway runs entirely on the island of Kyūshū. The total length is 346.2 km. It does not cover Ōita or Nagasaki.

Kokura Prefecture

The short-lived Kokura Prefecture of Japan was founded separately from Fukuoka Prefecture in December 1871 after the clan system was abolished earlier that year. It was made up of three separate han territories which were, each for a short while in 1871 themselves, called 'prefectures'.

Honjo Athletic Stadium

Honjo Stadium is a small athletic and multi-purpose stadium, opened in 1990 at Honjō Park in Ohiraki, Yahata Nishi-ku, Kitakyushu, Fukuoka prefecture, Japan.

Wasshoi Hyakuman Natsumatsuri

Wasshoi Hyakuman Natsumatsuri (わっしょい百万夏祭り) is a matsuri in Kokura Kita-ku, Kitakyūshū, Fukuoka, Japan. It is a summer festival that spans two days, usually the first weekend in August. It is Kitakyūshū's largest festival, having been created to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the creation of the city. Its predecessor was the Matsuri Kitakyūshū (まつり北九州).

Transport in Fukuoka-Kitakyushu

Transport in Fukuoka-Kitakyushu is similar to that of other large cities in Japan, but with a high degree of private transport. The region is a hub of international ferry services and has a high degree of air connectivity and a considerable rail transport network, complemented with highways and surface streets. It includes public and private rail and highway networks; airports for international, domestic, and general aviation; buses; motorcycle delivery services, walking, bicycling, and commercial shipping. The foci of the public transport system are Hakata Station, Tenjin Station, and Kokura Station, in Fukuoka and Kitakyushu cities respectively. Between these two cities lies a more sparse weblike regional rail network.

Fukuju-ji (Kitakyushu)

Fukuju-ji (福聚寺) is an Ōbaku Zen temple in Kokurakita-ku, Kitakyūshū, Fukuoka, Japan. Its honorary sangō prefix is Kōjuzan (広寿山). Fukuju-ji is one of two bodaiji (菩提寺), or funeral temples, dedicated to Ogasawara Tadazane, the first daimyō of Kokura Domain.


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