Since few weeks ago, I have been more and more interested in Kita-Kyushu city, which is located in nothern Fukuoka. Daisuke, who was born there, start talking to going back and if he does that, I will have to go too, for sure so I search a lot of information about that place.
Well, frankly , I would rather stay in Fukuoka city...
All this to say that yesterday, taking advantage of a day off (it was bunka no hi (文化の日), culture day), I went to Kita-Kyushu, in the district of Mojiko .
|"Mojiko" or "Mojico" ? You can choose.|
Mojiko (門司港) is the port of Moji ward, located the northest of the city of Kita-Kyushu. This is the northern place of yushu island, and it is linked to the largest Japan island : Honshu (where Tokyo, Osaka nd so on are). It is a place that has preserved its many historic Western-inspired buildings. Imagine : cobbled streets, brick buildings and retro shops. Strolling in Mojiko as an European living in Japan means having two clashing impressions : the one of being back to Europe and the one to have made a leap into the past.
It is my third time here as I went twice with school. it was my first time alone. In these two outputs , it was cold and cloudy, many places were under construction and school trip means that we couldn't go where we wanted. I don't really have an extraordinary memory, especially as I have been very marked by the not so nice surroundings.
Imust admit one thing: from the train, Kita-Kyushu's view is mostly brownfields, factories, highways and constructions. The landscape isn't the most attractive, I thought that it was a city without charms. But KitaQ, as I call it, is a dynamic city with a nice atmosphere and that intrigues me so I am starting to explore it slowly.
Let's be back to the topic.
From Fukuoka it takes a 1h30 ride by express train. For those in a hurry or those who own a JR Pass there is always the shinkansen option but for others, don't forget to bring a good book. .I arrived at Mojiko around 11am and there was still enough few people to walk quietly .
I started with the station which I was hoping to see without scaffolding but the building is still under renovation, which will end in 2018. Fortunately, scaffolds were decorated with bright colors as children of the area primary schools were in charge of the decoration. It's not quite in the style of the building but it is cute and a little more enjoyable to watch. Before going to my next goal, I got some prospectus. I found a very cheap rental kimono (1000 yen), but I think that the atmosphere of the city that does not match that kind of clothes, see below.
|A nice retro ice cream shop|
|What a disappointment ! It is a Chinese restaurant...|
|There are also people who live in the tower, under the observation floor. Can they go for free ?|
|Mojiko's Banana Men|
|Jîmo, the city's character|
EDIT : According to Kita-Kyushu city, Jimo is... a monster !
After a good meal (see the end of the blog post), I chose to continue my journey by going to the Kyushu Railway History Museum. It all traces the history of Kyushu trains with lots of photos, models and real elements of railroads. All explanations are in Japanese but maybe the museum have some English explanation paper.
You can also play a lot ! The museum allow visitors to climb in old trains for free cars which is very fun. I like to pretend that I am a train conductor haha.
There are also paid activities such as a train simulator 100 yens) and electric trains (100 yens). The simulator is particularly nice. I drove the Kagoshima line train between 2 stations. The goal is to respect speed, timetable and stop areas on the platform. I literally missed the arrival to the station but I had so much fun. I really recommand it.
Before the exit, there is a small park with mini-trains made for children. It's very cute, you can "drive" all kinds of miniature currently circulating on Kyushu. There is even a mini-station and an a false JR employee? If only I had dared to take a ticket (300 yens) but as there were only families, I was ashamed to.
Speaking of trains , there is touristic railway : the Mojiko Retro Kanko Line (門司港レトロ観光線), allowing to go further north, near the Kanmonkyo bridge (関門橋) linking Kyushu and Honshu. The train is also in a very retro style. The round-way price (600 yens) dissuaded me to ride it but I saw it a few times on the promenade along the rails. It's really nice to see a train like this around the city .
Since I had decided to boycott the train (and bus) and I still had a few hours before sunset, I decided to walk to the bridge via the pathway.
It's a nice walk ! On your right there is the Mojiko Retro Kanko Line and on the left the sea. In the last part of the trail, there is nothing but the sea... and dozens of fishermen busy in catching all kinds of fishes. Oh, I have to mention that you can't swim there. Don't even think of putting your feet on the water as the waterfront is inaccessible because closed by barriers.The deep blue water of the strait is a rather dangerous place with waves created by large ships and a so strong current which even create whirlpools.
A few steps later and I arrived near the Kanmonkyo bridge. Impressive as much as by its size and noise of the vehicles there, I was blown away. Before, I didn't understand the fascination that Japanese people have for huge bridges, now yes . Too bad it was under renovation (when I was talking about the ubiquitous constructions !).
After passing under the bridge and made a small prayer to the nearby Mekari shrine (和布刈神社), which is the most northern Kyushu shrine, I arrived in front of a concrete building not really very pretty but super useful for residents of the area : this is the pedestrian tunnel ! Yes, it is possible to reach Honshu by foot and for free, through this 800 m long tunnel, plunged between 1500 and 1800 meters underground.
I didn't want to go to Shimonoseki that day so I just went halfway for a small photo : one foot on Kyushu, one foot on Honhu !
The culinary specialty of the town of Mojiko is the baked curry or yaki curry (焼きカレー). It is a classic Japanese curry which egg and cheese on top and then baked in an oven. it is a very delicious and nutricious dish, perfect for coled weather.
I ated mine in this small but very friendly restaurant : Mojiko Saryo. The light wood furniture and the in oven curries sound make it a very pleasant place.
It's a little more expensive than the shops found on the pier.
Not tempted by this restaurant ? The tourist office (Mojiko Station) offers maps with all the best yaki curry shops of the city.
MOJIKO SARYO (門司港茶寮)
Fukuoka Prefecture, Kita-Kyushu city, Mojiko, Minato machi 7-8
993 yens for a baked curry
Opening hours :
Everyday from 10:30am to 9pm
Official website (jp)