2017 No.20

街歩きにっぽんStrolling Japan


Experience the Romance of Modern Japan


Within the city of Kitakyushu, at the northern tip of Kyushu, is the ward of Moji. Here you’ll happily encounter a number of historic buildings of modern Japan and an old train station that is a symbol of the exotic town.

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Mojiko Station Building
The former gateway to Kyushu is a beautiful wooden structure. Under repair for preservation until 2018 (Photo by PIXTA)

Facing Kanmon Straits separating Honshu and Kyushu, Moji has been strategic for transit and trade throughout the ages. The port, for example, was one of Japan’s three major international trading ports, including Kobe and Yokohama, since opening in 1889. It served as a hub for trade with the Asian continent, which also helped the town flourish, and was the rail gateway to Kyushu until the undersea railway tunnel between Kyushu and Honshu opened in 1942.

Formerly known as Moji Train Station, today’s Mojiko Station building has a symmetric appearance configured in Neo-Renaissance style, as befits its construction in 1914. The interior has notable historic design elements considered modern at the time, including a bronze washbasin and a restroom of marble and tile. A first for Japan was designating the train station as an Important Cultural Property in 1988, and visitors will be happy to know that ongoing restoration is planned for completion in March 2018.

Blue Wing Moji, Pedestrian-Only Drawbridge
It’s drawn up six times daily, in the Mojiko Retro Area, at a 60-degree angle to the water.

Mojiko Retro Sightseeing Train
The train connects Mojiko and Mekari areas in 10 minutes. (Photo by Aflo)

Mojiko Retro Observation Room
Enjoy a panorama of the Mojiko Retro Area and Kanmon Straits from the 31st floor of Mojiko Retro High Mart, the highest building in the Mojiko area.

Old Moji Customs House
The brick building, completed in 1912, now houses restaurants and galleries.

Kyushu Railway History Museum
Nine cars of rolling stock are on display, which many train fans come to see. Photo shows C59 #1.

The Mojiko Retro Area around the station attracts visitors from far and wide for making the past come alive. This sense of living history is palpable not only in hotels and commercial facilities but also in buildings from a time when the town was a bustling center of international trade.

One such building in the Mojiko area is the Kyushu Railway History Museum, with a red brick main building built in 1891. Here you’ll see old and new rolling stock, which make for a fun way to learn about the railway history of Japan.

Overseas and native visitors alike will delight in knowing that buildings formerly used as shipping companies, trading companies, banks, or warehouses may very well be the museums, galleries, and restaurants they presently occupy. Such knowledge enhances any walk for pleasure through this amiable port town. You can also ride a rickshaw and soak up the ward’s nostalgic ambiance or a sightseeing boat cruising past majestic sights, both enjoyed while listening to a tour guide describe the town.

Mojiko Retro Cruise
Popular sightseeing boat commands a view of Moji Port townscape from the sea. (Photo by PIXTA)

Sightseeing Rickshaw Ride
A retro rickshaw is just right for touring the old townscape. (Photo by PIXTA)

Old Moji Mitsui Club
Built by a trading company as a social club, it is an Important Cultural Property of Japan.