Kokura Castle 小倉城
The famous samurai Miyamoto Musashi once stayed here, and now there is a castle park with nearby recreational facilities
Kokura Castle was built on a plateau in the center of Kitakyushu City , making it very convenient for transportation. It is exceptionally popular with visitors. One reason is that famed swordmaster Miyamoto Musashi stayed in Kokura. The famous historical "Battle of Ganryu Island" between Miyamoto Musashi and his rival, Sasaki Kojiro, was also in Kokura.
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.
- 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 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 15-minute walk from the bigger Kokura Station. 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. Construction started at the beginning of the Edo period (1603-1867) in 1602, and took about seven years. The castle was the property of the Ogasawara clan between 1632 and 1866 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 townspeople 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 Kokura and the castle. The display sections include an interactive zone that allows visitors to experience samurai 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.
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 were built within the castle environs. Within the garden and overlooking the keep is a traditional samurai study with tatami rooms.
The most famous samurai connected with Kokura Castle was the swordsman and artist Miyamoto Musashi, who is believed to have visited the castle in 1632.The park has a monument to Musashi. Niten Ichi-ryu, the school of swordsmanship based on his style of fighting with two swords, shines brilliantly in the history of this area.
Cafes and river views at Riverwalk Kitakyushu
The castle overlooks Riverwalk Kitakyushu, a large entertainment complex of open-air cafes and spaces 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.
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.
* The information on this page may be subject to change due to COVID-19.