Regions of Japan

Hokkaido Tohoku Hokuriku
  • Hokkaido
Sub-zero temperatures and the greatest of outdoor environments, complemented by sizzling soul food and warm-hearted welcomes. Japan's great white north offers wild, white winters and bountiful summers—a haven for dedicated foodies, nature lovers and outdoor adventure fans seeking an adrenaline rush
  • Aomori
  • Akita
  • Iwate
  • Yamagata
  • Miyagi
  • Fukushima
Sleek apple-red and electric-green shinkansen whisk you up to a haven of fresh powder snow, fresh fruit and fearsome folk legends Fearsome festivals, fresh powder and vast fruit orchards—the rugged northern territory of Tohoku offers a fresh perspective on travel in Japan
Hokuriku Shinetsu
Hokuriku Shinetsu
  • Niigata
  • Toyama
  • Ishikawa
  • Fukui
  • Nagano
Mountains and sea meet in one of Japan's wildest regions, and the result is sheer beauty. Once largely inaccessible, Hokuriku is now reachable by shinkansen from Tokyo in a matter of hours An easily accessible slice of rural Japan offering unrivaled mountainscapes and coastlines, endless outdoor adventure and amazing ocean fare
  • Tokyo
  • Kanagawa
  • Chiba
  • Saitama
  • Ibaraki
  • Tochigi
  • Gunma
Characterized by the constant buzz of the world's most populous metropolitan area, the Kanto region is surprisingly green with an array of escapes that include mountainous getaways and subtropical islands Experience diversity at its fullest, from the neon of Tokyo to the ski slopes of Gunma, exotic wildlife of the Ogasawara Islands and cultural heritage of Kamakura
  • Yamanashi
  • Shizuoka
  • Gifu
  • Aichi
  • Mie
Served by the shinkansen line that connects Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka, the Tokai region provides plenty of interesting diversions and easy excursions Tokai means "eastern sea," and this region stretches east from Tokyo to Kyoto and includes blockbuster attractions such as Mt. Fuji and Takayama
  • Kyoto
  • Osaka
  • Shiga
  • Hyogo
  • Nara
  • Wakayama
From raucous nights out to outdoor thrills to peaceful reverie, trying to categorize the Kansai region is a futile task The Kansai region is one of extreme contrasts—the neon lights of Osaka and glittering Kobe nightscape, the peaceful realms of Shiga, Wakayama and Nara, and the cultured refinement of Kyoto
  • Tottori
  • Shimane
  • Okayama
  • Hiroshima
  • Yamaguchi
Less-traveled and delightfully inaccessible at times, the Chugoku region is a reminder that the journey is sometimes more important than the destination Welcome to Japan's warm and friendly western frontier, where the weather is warmer and the pace of life is slower
  • Tokushima
  • Kagawa
  • Ehime
  • Kochi
Providing the stage for literary classics, fevered dancing and natural wonders Island-hopping, cycling, soul-warming spiritual strolling and red-hot dancing—the island of Shikoku gets you up and moving
  • Fukuoka
  • Saga
  • Nagasaki
  • Oita
  • Kumamoto
  • Miyazaki
  • Kagoshima
Easily reached by land, sea and air, the dynamic Kyushu prefectures are bubbling with energy, culture and activity The southern island of Kyushu is home to volcanoes ranging from sleepy to smoky, succulent seafood, steaming hot springs and the country's hottest entrepreneurial town
  • Okinawa
Ruins and recreated castles of the Ryukyu kings nestle amid magnificent beaches in Okinawa, a diver's paradise teeming with an amazing array of coral and undersea life Fly to Okinawa and discover a distinct island culture born of subtropical sun, white sand, coral, mangrove jungles and the age of the Ryukyu Kings


Kokura Castle 小倉城

Once home to famous swordsman Miyamoto Musashi, now a castle park with entertainment nearby

Kokura Castle is an exceptionally well-restored castle built on a plain that has become the symbol of the city of Kitakyushu. The only standing castle keep in Fukuoka Prefecture, it is exceptionally popular with visitors. One reason is that famed swordmaster Miyamoto Musashi made his home at Kokura, and the dojo teaching his style of swordsmanship was based here.

The castle grounds are lovely, and the castle overlooks a new commercial complex called Riverwalk Kitakyushu with plenty of shopping, dining and entertainment possibilities. Nature lovers and birdwatchers will also enjoy a walk along the scenic Murasaki River, which gives the complex its name.

Don't Miss

  • The panoramic views of Kitakyushu city from the keep's top floor
  • Kokura Castle's grounds are covered with cherry bloom in mid-spring
  • Exploring Riverwalk Kitakyushu, a large entertainment and shopping complex

How to Get There

Kokura Castle is a short walk from JR Nishi-Kokura and Kokura stations.

Kokura Castle is a 10-minute walk from Nishi-Kokura Station, which is on the Kagoshima Main Line.

It's a 20-minute walk from the bigger JR Kokura Station. JR Kokura Station is also a stop on the Sanyo Shinkansen, which offers direct access from Fukuoka and Osaka.

Explore the castle

Kokura Castle played a pivotal role in the history of the area. It was built between 1602 and 1608 at the beginning of the Edo period. The castle was the property of the Ogasawara clan between 1632 and 1860, but was burnt down in 1866 during the war between the Kokura and Choshu clans.

The current keep is not an accurate reconstruction of the original, since the architects opted for a more aesthetically appealing design instead of faithfully rebuilding the simpler structure that once stood here.

From the outside, the keep appears to have only four stories, but actually has five inside. The castle is filled with exhibits that introduce the history of Kitakyushu and the castle. The display sections include an interactive zone that allows visitors to experience castle life as it was lived during the Edo period.

From the top floor of the castle, you can enjoy a panoramic view of Kitakyushu to the west, south and east. Also visible is mainland Honshu, Hikoshima and Shimonoseki to the north.

Stroll the historic castle grounds

The keep is surrounded by a moat on two sides and the castle's extensive grounds on the other two. The grounds are collectively known as Katsuyama Park, which has hundreds of cherry trees that bloom in early April. In 1998, a small Japanese garden and pond was built within the castle environs. Within the garden and overlooking the moat is a traditional Japanese building with tatami rooms.

The most famous resident of Kokura Castle was the swordsman and philosopher Miyamoto Musashi, who moved to the castle in 1634 as a guest of Ogasawara Tadazane. The park has a memorial built on the site of his former residence. Niten Ichi-ryu, the school of swordsmanship based on his style of fighting with two swords, was based in Kokura throughout its history.

Cafes and river views at Riverwalk Kitakyushu

The castle overlooks Riverwalk Kitakyushu, a large entertainment complex of open-air cafes and parks with views of the river and its surroundings. Riverwalk Kitakyushu is also attached to the Kitakyushu Performing Arts Center and a branch of the Kitakyushu Municipal Museum of Art. You can take a tour of broadcaster NHK's Kitakyushu station as well.

Designed as a natural and open space within the city, Riverwalk Kitakyushu is a great place to relax, take in some culture and grab a bite to eat before or after exploring Kokura Castle.

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