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Kokura (小倉市, Kokura-shi) is an ancient castle town and the center of Kitakyushu, Japan, guarding, via its suburb Moji, the Straits of Shimonoseki between Honshu and Kyushu. Kokura is also the name of the penultimate station on the southbound San'yō Shinkansen line, which is owned by JR West. Ferries connect Kokura with Matsuyama on Shikoku, and Busan in Korea.


Map of Kokura, Kiyama, Miyaki District, Saga Prefecture 841-0201, Japan

Kyomachi kokura 2011

Edo period

The Ogasawara and Hosokawa clans were daimyōs at Kokura Castle during the Edo period (1603–1868). Miyamoto Musashi, samurai swordsman, author of The Book of Five Rings and founder of the Hyoho Niten Ichi-ryū, famous for its use of two swords, lived in the Kokura castle under the patronage of the Ogasawara and Hosokawa clans briefly during 1634.

Meiji period

After the end of the Tokugawa Shogunate, Kokura was the seat of government for Kokura Prefecture. When the municipal system of cities, towns and villages was introduced, Kokura Town was one of 25 towns in the prefecture, which later merged with Fukuoka Prefecture. Kokura was upgraded to city status in 1900.

World War II

Kokura was the backup target for the "Little Boy" bomb on August 6, 1945, so if Hiroshima had been clouded over, the first atomic bomb would have been dropped on Kokura. Kokura was the primary target for the "Fat Man" bomb on August 9, 1945, but on the morning of the raid, the city was obscured by clouds and smoke from the firebombing of the neighboring city of Yahata the day before. Since the mission commander Major Charles Sweeney had orders to drop the bomb visually and not by radar, he diverted to the secondary target, Nagasaki.


When the city of Kitakyushu was created in 1963, Kokura was divided into Kokura Kita ward in the north, and Kokura Minami ward in the south.

Notable residents

  • Matsumoto Seichō – writer
  • Miyamoto Musashi – swordsman and rōnin
  • Mori Ōgai – physician, translator, novelist and poet
  • Tetsuya Theodore Fujita – Meteorologist
  • Notable figures born in Kokura

  • Leiji Matsumoto
  • Tsukasa Hojo
  • Festivals

    The Gion Festival of Kokura is called the "Gion of Drums" and celebrates the life of local folk-hero Muhomatsu.

    Notable facts

    The city is the site of the main dojo (honbu) of Miyamoto Musashi's sword school, Hyoho Niten Ichi-ryū.


    Kokura Wikipedia