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Tobata and Yahata

At a Glance

Yahata is famous as the international section of Kitakyushu as it is home to the Kitakyushu International Association and Kyushu International University. Tobata is the smallest ward of Kitakyushu City and lies to the north of Yahata.

Festivals

Tobata Gion Matsuri  Fourth weekend of July

Kurasaki Gion July 20th-23rd

Nagasaki Kaido Matsuri October

Getting There

By train: Get off at Tobata or Yahata stations on the JR Kagoshima line.

Points of Interest

Kitakyushu International Association (KIA) is a great resource for foreigners, providing many services like language exchange. There’s a library (3F) with over 6000 books including numerous travel guides, newspapers in English, Korean and Chinese and BBC news on TV. There’s at least one English-speaking staff member there. From JR Yahata Station, walk straight towards Kyushu International University (about 15 minutes). You’ll pass a Red Cabbage on your right. It’s in a mirrored building; signs will lead you there. 9am-5:30pm; closed Mon & Dec 29-Jan 3. International Village Center 3F, 1- 1-1 Hirano, Yahatahigashi-ku. 093-662-0055. http://www.kitaq-koryu.jp/en/index.php.

Kitakyushu Municipal Museum of Art has over 6000 pieces of permanent artwork, and also displays special exhibitions. The striking, modernist building is worth seeing by itself. There is also a lovely cafe on the premises with very reasonable set meals. From Tobata Station take bus #40 bound for Komine and get off at Bijutsukan-guchi. Follow the side road behind you to the right. 2-1-1 Nishisayagatani-machi. 9:30am-5:30pm (admittance until 5pm); closed Mon (Tue if Mon is a holiday). 093-882-7777. http://www.city.kitakyushu.lg.jp/index_oshirase.html

Yomiya Park is famous for hundreds of irises that bloom every June. It also has a youth center and Japanese archery grounds and is a good place for hanami in spring. 1 Yomiya, Tobata-ku .

Ajisai no Yu onsen is a great place to relax and get out of the city. The outdoor bath has a beautiful view of the surrounding mountains and there are also a couple of restaurants. Try the onsen-dofu at the handmade soba shop. Catch the free shuttle bus from Itozu-no-mori Zoological Park or JR Yahata Station (picks up hourly at the last bus shelter on the left side as you exit the station). Call for specific bus times; some staff speak English.11:30am-10pm (admittance until 9pm); closed irregularly. 2-3-36 Kawachi, Yahatahigashi-ku. 093-653-4126.

Kawachi Reservoir has a great running and biking path. Tire yourself out, then head to the onsen. Beyond the dam is a park area filled with cherry trees, a nice spot to check out in spring. Also in the area is a craft village where you can watch and try activities like leatherworking, metalworking, pottery and making glass beads and stained glass. Accessible via the free Ajisai no Yu shuttle mentioned above.

Kitakyushu Museum of Natural History & Human History is based on the concept of Inochi no Tabi, or life journey, offering visitors the chance to travel through every time period in history and learn about the mysteries of nature. A two-minute walk from Space World Station on the JR Kagoshima Line. It’s on your right as you exit the station. 9am-5pm (admittance until 4:30pm); closed end of June. 2-4-1 Higashida, Yahatahigashi-ku. 093-681-1011.

Kyushu Mingei-mura is a craft village on a mountain where you can watch activities like leatherworking, metalworking, pottery and making stained glass and beads. You’re encouraged to have a go! Admission ¥250, craft workshops from ¥525. Take the 56 bus from Yahata station to Kyushu Migei-mura and Jizo-mae. It comes twice daily and takes 35 minutes. 3-4-16 Kawachi, Yahatahigashi. 093-652-8833.

Mount Sarakura is the highest mountain in Kitakyushu, offering hiking and biking trails as well as a camping spot. There are cable car services going up and down the mountain and you can transfer to the ropeway lift and go to the summit. A hike to the top takes around two hours and on a clear day you’ll be rewarded by a glimpse of South Korea. 6 Hobashira, Yahatahigashi-ku,. 093-671-4761.

Space World is Japan’s only space-themed amusement park. There are four big roller coasters, various other rides and daily shows. Group discounts for 15 people or more. English brochure available. 10am-5pm in winter, 9am-9pm in summer and closed parts of Feb, July and Dec; opening hours vary so check the web site before you go. Take the JR Kagoshima Line to Space World Station. http://www.spaceworld.co.jp/english/

Eating and Drinking

Yamaguchi’s is an excellent cake shop with very friendly owners. They make great birthday cakes and have a small area for customers to sit down and enjoy a cup of tea or coffee. Best to call before you go because they close irregularly. 2-8-34 Tenraiji, Tobata-ku. 093-861-0765.

Aqua Vitae is a quiet place in Yahatahigashi serving authentic Italian food. Lunch Fri-Sun 12-2pm, dinner 5-10:30pm. No fixed holidays, so call before going. From Yahata Station, cross the first big street and walk on the right side past Red Cabbage to the Takamiya sports gym. It’s right behind the gym. 4-12-2-1F Nishihon-machi, Yahatahigashi-ku. 093-662-5412.

Nabi-san has hard-to-find Middle Eastern food, but only takeout is available. Take bus #1 or #22 from Kokura and get off at Yahatahigashi Kuyakushoshita bus stop. Located just beyond the bus stop on the left-hand side. Recommended to call before going since their hours are irregular. 1-1-17 Chuo-machi, Yahatahigashi-ku. 093-661-2010.