Translated by Allie
Travel Back In Time 100 Years In Mojiko Retro, Kitakyushu City
Written by Maki
Moji in Kitakyushu, Fukuoka, is a port city facing the Kanmon Strait. Mojiko Retro is the area near this port that is full of 100 year old buildings. Let's take a stroll and experience the nostalgic atmosphere of this city.
A Port City Nestled Around Moji Station
Moji in Kitakyushu City, Fukuoka Prefecture, is a port city which faces the Kanmon Strait, also known as the Strait of Shimonoseki, which divides Japan's main island of Honshu and the southernmost island of Kyushu. Let's take a walk around the area known as Mojiko Retro, where you can discover historical buildings built more than 100 years ago and take in the nostalgic atmosphere.
Mojiko, or Moji Port, was opened 120 years ago during the Meji period (1868 - 1912), originally created and used for the purpose of exporting coal dug in the Kyushu region.
From the port, the calm waters and Kanmon Bridge expand before your eyes, with picturesque views of Shimonoseki City in Yamaguchi Prefecture in the distance.
JR Mojiko Station is situated in the center of Moji City. Built in 1891, the station was built in a Neo-Renaissance style and has a distinctly modern European air to it. It is also the first station building to become a designated Important Cultural Property in Japan.
In addition to its stunning appearance, JR Mojiko Station has continued to be a major transportation hub relied on by locals since its construction. It is currently under reconstruction, although the railway facilities, including trains, are usable.
Historical facilities are preserved in every corner of the station building. The picture above is an antique drinking fountain, which we can imagine travelers back in the past used to quench their thirst.
Moji Port was the Major Port for International Trade
As Moji used to be an international trading hub and major port city, there are many buildings remaining here related to this prosperous time period and the trade business. The bright orange brick building above is a branch of the former shipping company, Osaka Shosen.
There is a historical safe displayed inside this building. Everybody is free to try to open this safe by dialing the combination lock. We tried many times to open the safe but were unsuccessful. Be sure to give it a try yourself when you visit Moji.
Next to the port is the brick building pictured above, known as the former Moji Zeikan, or Moji Customs House, which was used by the customs office up until 1920.
This facility now houses an art gallery and public rest area which visitors can freely look around and use.
This white rectangular building is called Dairen Koro Waya, which was built as an international passenger terminal for ferries traveling between Moji Port and Dalian, China.
The building is now used as a lounge for visitors to Mojiko Retro and exhibits ship models related to Kitakyushu and Dalian.
A Social Meeting Place to this Day
The prosperous trade city that it was, Moji still retains traces of the widely-known Mitsui Zaibatsu, or Mitsui conglomerate's incredible influence. An example of this is the still-popular high-class Japanese restaurant, Sangiro, located in the only Japanese-style building in the Mojiko Retro area, constructed out of wood with three floors.
Wedding parties and banquets were historically held in the spacious 182 square meter room shown above.
Haiku poems composed by the famous Japanese poet Kyoshi Takahama are seen on display in this alcove.
This building formerly housed Moji Mitsui Club, a social club for the employees of the Mitsui Group general trading company. In 1922, Mr. and Mrs. Einstein stayed here during their visit to Japan.
As the social club's main hall is open to the public, travelers can gain a better idea of what it was like to socialize, celebrate, and dance 100 years ago in Moji.
Visit Unique Historical Buildings
This exotic-looking building is the Kitakyushu Commemorative Library of International Friendship, which is the main library of Kitakyushu City today.
Travelers may also stop by and read here. There are books about China and Dalian, as well as picture books offered in English, Chinese, and Korean.
The first building constructed in this modern style in Moji was the Moji Telecommunication Museum, a museum where you can learn more about the history of telecommunications, as well as view related displays in their gallery.
This vintage red phone box is a reconstruction of the first telephone box in Japan and is still a fully operational phone. You can place a call from here and really get into the old-time spirit in Moji.
Mojiko Retro has gorgeous century-old buildings all around the beautiful station building, many of which can be entered into and enjoyed for free. It's worth the trip to visit Mojiko Retro and let yourself slip back into time with the old-world atmosphere amidst these charming and well-maintained historical buildings.
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This article is based on information from May 2016.