I know what you're thinking, "WTF is Kitakyushu!?" I didn't exactly know where it was but I knew it was in Japan. I actually think this trip is fate, I have a picture of the beautiful wisteria garden saved on my laptop which turns out to be in Kitakyushu.
However, the only reason I had bought a roundtrip ticket is because I was browsing flights from Seoul while out at a bar and Kitakyushu was $92 US ($123 CAD) for a roundtrip flight. Even though the trip was for literally 25 hrs, Japan is close enough where only being there for a short amount of time is actually feasible. Anyways, Kitakyushu is located in Fukuoka Perfecture (district). Kitakyushu should not be overlooked as the city is very beautiful and has a lot to offer.
As I mentioned, the only reason I wanted to go there was because of Kawachi Fuji Gardens. As soon as I got off the plane I headed for the garden. It was only about a 10~15min cab ride from Yahata Station. Unfortunately, it rained the night before so it was very wet and muddy on the grounds and a lot of the flowers had fallen. The week before was "Golden Week", which is when the flowers were the most vibrant. Also, mid April to mid May is the blooming season, which means the garden is extra busy. At this time you need to purchase tickets in advance to visit or you will be turned away from the garden. Tickets are available at Family Mart and 711. At this time the entrance fee also goes up. You could pay anywhere from 1000-2500¥ ($10-25). There is also a 2 hour limit with each ticket, so people don't loiter.
Kawachi Fujien is a private garden and is only open for the spring and fall. It is definitely the most picturesque place I have ever seen. I was there for an hour taking pictures. Wisteria's are plants that are native to Japan, which makes them very captivating. They are clusters of flowers that hang down from vines. There are many different colours and types of wisteria.
Some of the flower vines tend to be very long. You have have to duck to you don't get continuously slapped in the face by vines. There are also tons of bumblebees. They are quite loud but do not sting, so leave them alone--This coming from a girl who hates bees and runs away from them haha.
Now you can check out the wisteria's and the views!
Kawachi Fujien is nestled in the mountains. If you climb up the hill, you get the most amazing views.
Overall, this is the most beautiful, colourful, vibrant garden I have EVER seen. I hope to come back next year for the full bloom!
From Kokura Station take the JR line to Yahata Station (5 stops, about 15mins). Then, take bus #56 and get off at Kawachi Elementary School. From there, you have to walk 10-15 min to the garden. Or once you get to Yahata Station take a taxi which is about 10~15 minutes and costs about 2500¥ ($25) but the scenery is beautiful and you won't get lost!
Kokura Station is the central railway hub for Kitakyushu. Here you can catch the regular train, monorail or JR. It's also a great place to people watch.
Uomachi-Gintengai Shopping Area
While on my way to find my hostel, I walked through Uomachi-Gintengai. Uomachi-Gintengai is the first arcade shopping district in the country. Here you can see young and old people playing arcade games and having fun. It's a really cool experience to have. They have the largest arcades i've ever seen (picture below).
I was actually starving, I hadn't eaten since the day before, so I was desperately trying to find food. I didn't try very hard because I can't read Japanese. I basically decided where to eat by looking at the pictures they had outside.
This restaurant looked appetizing so I went in. To order I did the typical point at the food you want thing. How embarrassing! I picked some good choices though. I got gyoza (Japanese dumplings) and what tasted like beef teriyaki. I was not disappointed at all, the food was delicious. It cost around 780¥ I believe, so not too expensive.
Riverwalk Kitakyushu is an open air upscale shopping mall next to Kokura Castle. Facilities include movie theatre, restaurants, markets, gaming centres, clothing stores, etc.
I couldn't come to the mall without eating....even though I ate not too long ago. I walked around trying to see all the different restaurants they has that were not too expensive. I settled on a restaurant called Moby Dick. They had an extensive menu and was reasonably priced. Im not sure of the name of the meal I ordered, but it was like crispy fried chicken breast with veggies, potato wedges and this sweet but lemony sauce. It was so freakin good. It was 970¥ (around $9.70) and you also have the option or adding unlimited bread, salad, soft drinks and dessert for an extra 280¥.
Kokura Castle was built in 1602 but was burned down in 1866 as a result of war. Reconstruction lasted from 1959~1990 and is now like a museum. I came a bit too late to be able to tour the inside. One thing you will notice is the juxtaposition of old vs. new with the castle and the mall next to each other. To visit the castle it costs 300¥ or you can do 3 attractions (Kokura Castle, Matsumoto Seicho Memorial Museum & Kokura Japanese Garden) for 700¥.
Kawaguchimon is a shrine beside the castle. It was closed when I arrived as well.
Make sure to stay around til dusk so you can capture the beautiful sunset!
I had a wonderful time in Kitakyushu. I'm actually thinking about coming here again but leaving on a Monday morning so I have mkre time to explore
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