The wisteria tunnel kawachi with a curtain of purple flowers flowing over in the Kawachi Fuji Garden in Kitakyushu, Japan
In the mountainside Kitakyushu lies a private garden of purple flowers called Kawachi Wisteria Garden. Wander through seemingly endless tunnels of cultivated wisteria that shroud you in shades of purple. The most popular viewing season is late April to early May, but the gardens are also open for the fiery colors of autumn.
Kitakyushu international friendship memorial library in Mojiko retro town, Japan
In days of old, Mojiko port was a hub of commercial activity. When the port moved, buildings with historical significance were renovated and preserved in what today is called Mojiko Retro. Visit the striking red-brick Moji Customs Building, take a tour of the Kyushu Railway History Museum, or enjoy the view at the Mojiko Retro Observation Room.
First built in 1602, Kokura Castle is famous for its Chinese-style tower and hand-built natural stone walls. The castle was rebuilt in 1959 and today houses a small museum, where you can see gold-leaf tiger paintings and or sit in a palanquin sedan chair that once belonged to Japanese royalty. Then, do some hanami (flower-viewing) in the gardens and visit the Shinto Kokura Yasaka shrine.
Japanese chefs are some of the world's best when it comes to preparing seafood, and Kitakyushu is an ideal place to experience their skill. Pufferfish caught in the treacherous nearby seas of Kanmon Strait is said to be the best in all Japan — enjoy as sashimi or boiled in a hearty hot-pot at a fugu restaurant. Jump onboard a Kitakyushu cruise and try the favorite local snack karashi mentaiko, salty, spicy cod roe expertly pickled.
The best places to pick up souvenirs are in Mojiko Retro. If you are looking for a one-stop shop, head to Mojiko Retro Tourist Center. You'll find everything from sweets to signature crafts like Japanese wooden dolls. Mojiko Kaikyo Plaza has a collection of shops selling traditional music boxes and other trinkets.
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