Kitakyushu City has many traces of Japanese industrial modernization, including World Heritage sites related to Japan’s steel industry and Mojiko Retro. It’s also fun to look at each of the historic buildings that make up the retro cityscape. Why don’t you take a peek at the history of the city that ran through the Meiji, Taisho, and Showa eras? We introduce carefully selected retro buildings to see in Kitakyushu.
“Mojiko Station” the first railway station building designated as a cultural asset of national importance
Mojiko Station is the starting point of the JR Kyushu Kagoshima Main Line. The neo-renaissance-style station building, built in 1914, is the first railway station building designated as a cultural asset of national importance.
Kitakyushu City former Osaka Shosen registered as a tangible cultural property
The “Osaka Shosen Moji Branch”, built in 1917, was restored and is now registered as a national tangible cultural property. Designed by architect Ikuji Kawai, it features a brick-like orange tile exterior. At that time, it was active as one of the bases of Mojiko Port, where many foreign trade vessels arrived and departed. Presently, it has a gallery and shops, and as a part of Mojiko Retro, it has become an indispensable tourist spot for creating a city atmosphere.
“Former Moji Mitsui Club” with a restaurant and event hall
In 1921, the former Moji Mitsui Club was established in Tanimachi, Moji Ward as a social club of Mitsui & Co. This building features a traditional European wooden structure called the Half-Timber style. Currently, there are restaurants, event halls, Einstein Memorial Room, Fumiko Hayashi’s memorial room, etc., and it is a tourist spot in the Mojiko retro area. Like Mojiko Station, this building is designated as a cultural asset of national importance.
“Former Matsumoto Residence” open to the public twice in spring and autumn
The former Matsumoto residence, built by Kenjiro Matsumoto in 1912, was built as Mr. Matsumoto’s residence and guesthouse, as the name suggests. It consists of an Art Nouveau-style Western building and the shoin-zukuri traditional Japanese-style building. The Western-style building was designed by architect Tatsuno Kingo who also designed Tokyo Station and the Bank of Japan headquarters, while the Japanese-style building was designed by Kosaburo Kubota. It has been designated as an important cultural property and is now used for weddings and is open to the public twice a year in spring and autumn.
“Former Furukawa Mining Wakamatsu Building” shows office buildings of the Taisho era
The former Furukawa Mining Wakamatsu Building, built in 1919 (Taisho 8th year), is one of the nationally designated important cultural assets. It is said to have high value as one of the few historical buildings that convey the state of Wakamatsu Port in the era of coal shipping. It is a two-story building made of bricks, with a modern design and geometric patterns on the details. The area where the former Furukawa Mining Wakamatsu Building is located is known as a popular tourist attraction because it almost looks like a movie set.
“Former Moji Customs” which was the customs office until the early Showa era
This building was built in 1913 and was a two-story brick tile. It was used as a customs office until the early Showa period. Reconstructed in 1994, it has a break room, a coffee shop, an exhibition room, a gallery, and an observation room, visited by many people as a tourist attraction.
“Moji Beer and Brick Museum” (former Teikoku Beer Office) where you can trace the history of beer
Teikokul Beer was established in 1912 as the first full-scale beer company in Kyushu. The current building was built in 1913 and more than 100 years have already passed. There is a beer restaurant in the neighborhood that once was a raw material warehouse, where you can enjoy a meal while feeling the atmosphere of that time.
“Government-run Yawata Works Former Head Office” view from Yawata Works Former Head Office Observation Space
The building that was the office of the Yawata Works which led the modernization of Japanese industry and has become a World Heritage site, was built in 1899 and was active until 1922. At that time, it was a two-story building with a modern red brick structure, and the outer wall was built in English style. Now you can see it from the view space of the former head office of the government-operated Yawata Works.
“Dalian Friendship Memorial Hall” (formerly the “International Friendship Memorial Library”) was created to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the signing of a friendship city with Dalian.
Moji Port has established a route with Dalian, China, and Kitakyushu entered into a friendship agreement with Dalian in 1979. Dalian Friendship Memorial Hall was created to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the signing of the Friendship Agreement. This building was originally restored from a railway steamship company that the Russian Empire built in Dalian in 1902. It is a building that has impressive details such as tiles on the outer walls and windows.
Why don’t you follow the retro footprints unique to Kitakyushu that led the industrial modernization of Japan?