Kitakyushu: In 24 hours

Heading to Kitakyushu, my hopes weren’t too high after hearing it was mostly an industrial wasteland – but my fears were mostly unfounded.

Travelling in, we wrongly headed towards Moji Port, an area of apartments with occasional red brick buildings. Looking at the station, it had none of the promised retro styling; it was at this point I became suspicious and realised we actually wanted to be in Mojiko – Ko as in old! So back up the road for a few more miles and we had arrived!

It had a distinctly touristy feel, a mix of portside shops, pastel coloured buildings and an unusually large number of people milling about gave it a real holiday feel!

As we began sightseeing, we quickly came to realise that the beautiful old station was actually hidden under a rather grey and ugly, corrugated building, due to renovations and would remain hidden until 2018! C’est la vie!

You can’t visit Kitakyushu, especially Mojiko, without trying the famous yaki curry. Practically every restaurant offers its own take on the dish – there were 27 restaurants listed on the tourist centre’s yaki curry map – based purely on imagery and hunger we chose a nearby place, took the elevator and popped into a faux Mediterranean restaurant with a delightful view over the Kanmon Straits.

The Kanmon Straits are the waters that separate the Japanese islands of Honshu and Kyushu from each other, known for its busy waters for commercial and industrial shipping.

Yaki curry is made from ‘Japanese curry’ which is spread over white rice. Cheese and egg are added over this, and then baked in the oven. The result is a gooey, cheesy mix, with a little spiciness and delicious taste – even the sprinkling of dried fish flakes over the top couldn’t dampen my enthusiasm for it! Coupled with a delicious salad and soup, it made for a wonder set lunch menu.

The tourist map laid out a short stroll for us, taking us past the old warehouses for the ports, before leading us back around past the restaurant and to a few more historical buildings from the area’s shipping heydays, over a small tourist shopping centre with all the omiyage you could hope for and most importantly free samples!

 The city of Kitakyushu

The parents leading the way to Kitakyushu castle

Having explored the areas of Mojiko, we doubled back on ourselves a wee bit to spend the night in the city, and once checked in, heading back out to explore.

Searching for the castle, we came across a number of what looked to be soaplands and other premises indulging in cardinal sins, but came out unscathed and reach the castle right around sunset. Already people were having hanami parties, despite the blossoms still fighting their way into existence and the slight chill in the air. With such dynamic lighting, the castle and grounds looked beautiful, with the castle’s white walls catching wonderfully the dying warmth of the sun’s rays.

Kokura Castle in Kitakyushu

Before long it was evening.

We managed to track down an Irish pub we’d passed earlier, and found to our surprise it has draft Guinness and drank it gleefully, followed by finding a restaurant on the river front that offered deliciously cooked hamburger steaks, steak and chips! A kind of nutritional ying to the yang of Japanese yaki curry.

By J.Molkenthin

James Molkenthin is an enthusiastic and energetic British Designer, with a background in Graphics, Website and Product Design.