Space World / Yahata Guide 北九州
*Space World permanently closed on January 1, 2018
Space World was a major amusement park in the Yahata district of the city of Kiyakyushu, Fukuoka prefecture, built around the theme of space. Space World was built by Nippon Steel in 1990 when the company was downsizing its operations in the area, and though now beginning to show its age, Space World was once very popular.
Space World has its own JR railway station and its own hotel. There are more than 30 attractions in the park, including the Venus GP, a roller coaster with a 360 degree loop, the Space Eye, Kyushu's tallest Ferris wheel, a 7 storey high Imax Theater, and a planetarium, as well as numerous daily musical and theatrical events.
In the summer there are water attractions available. What sets Space World apart from other amusement parks is Space Camp, a series of residential courses that includes training with NASA approved equipment.
Open 10:00 to 16:30 (low season) 09:00 to 21:00 (peak season)
Irregular closing days, it is best to consult the Spaceworld website www.spaceworld.co.jp/english.
Entrance fee: 4,200 yen, 1 day pass adult. 9,000 yen 2 day pass with one night accommodation.
4-1-1 Higashida, Yahatahigashi-ku, Kitakyushu City, Fukuoka
Tel: 093 672 3600
The Kitakyushu Yahata Royal Hotel is very close to Space World.
Higashida Blast Furnace
The modern Japanese steel industry began here in Yahata, Kitakyushu City, with the state-owned Yawata Steelworks. Of course, Japan had been producing steel for more than a millennium, using traditional tatara forges, and in the mid-18th century several domains with good contacts with foreigners, notably Choshu and Satsuma, had constructed reverbatory furnaces, but it was with the construction of the Higashida Blast Furnace that the steel industry began.
Yahata was chosen as it was close to the rich coalfield of Chikuho, and with a good port to import the iron-ore which mostly came from Korea and China. The steelworks were funded primarily with reparations received from China after the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-1895, and the blast furnace was designed and built by German engineers, though it seems their design was faulty and inefficient and Japanese engineers took over and improved it.
By the end of its first decade of use the plant was producing 80% of Japan's pig iron and steel. The furnace remained in operation, with numerous improvements, until it closed down in 1972.
Now the blast furnace and related structures are open to the public as an Historical Plaza, an open-air Industrial Heritage Museum, and as well as being able to wander around the structures there are numerous signboards explaining the processes as well as a locomotive and rolling stock used here.
The Higashida Blast Furnace is located only two minutes south of the JR Spaceworld Station.
Higashida Blast Furnace
2-3-12 Higashida, Yahata-higashi-ku, Kitakyushu-shi, Fukuoka, 805-0071
Tel: 093 582 2389
Entrance is free
Kitakyushu Innovation Gallery & Studio
KIGS is more properly titled the Kitakyushu Industrial Technology Aggregation & Preservation Center and it opened in 2007 in a distinctive building between the Higashida Blast Furnace and the Kitakyushu Museum of Natural History and Human History.
The permanent exhibition is located in the Timeline Gallery and includes a mural of technological innovation since 1850 with a plasma display providing details in four languages.
There is another Exhibition Gallery which hosts temporary exhibits on the theme of innovation, when I was there a couple of years ago there was one on the history of cameras. Other spaces include a library of materials on technical innovation and design, a lecture hall, workshops, an outdoor event space and a visitor lounge.
Kitakyushu Industrial Technology Aggregation & Preservation Center
2-2-11 Higashida Yahatahigashi-ku, Kitakyushu, 805-0071
Tel: 093 663 5411
Open 9-7 weekdays, 9-5 on Sat, Sun, and National Holidays. Closed on Mondays.
Entrance is free but there is often a charge for the temporary exhibitions.
The Kitakyushu Museum of Natural History & Human History
In 2002 three museums were combined into one: the Natural History Museum, Archeology Museum, and History Museum to create today’s Kitakyushu Museum of Natural and Human History.
The new museum is large with 65,000 square feet of display space divided into three zones, the Natural History Zone, dominated by skeletons of animals from dinosaurs down to current species, the History Zone, with full size replicas of traditional buildings and plenty of displays on local festivals, and the Interaction Zone with lots of "hands-on" experiences.
The Kitakyushu Museum of Natural and Human History is located just five minutes from JR Spaceworld Station.
Kitakyushu Museum of Natural and Human History
2-4-1 Higashida, Hachiman-Higashi-ku, Kitakyushu-shi, Fukuoka
Tel: 093 681 1011
Open 9am-5pm. Closed over the New Year period.
Entrance to the permanent exhibitions is 500 yen.
Kitakyushu Environment Museum
Kitakyushu was once one of the most polluted places in Japan. A local children's song sang of the "seven colored smoke" that was the cause of high rates of asthma and other illnesses.
Dokai Bay was known as the Sea of Death as no fish were able to live in it. Beginning in the mid-1960s the local housewives, whose husbands worked in the steel mills, began what was to become Japan's environmental movement.
Kitakyushu is now a designated "Eco Model City", and this small museum documents that process as well as highlighting global environmental problems. Unfortunately all the displays and the materials in the library are in Japanese, but some of the volunteer guides have some English ability and there are lots of hands-on craft activities for kids.
Next door to the museum is the Kitakyushu Eco House utilizing all the latest in energy saving and alternative energy features available.
Kitakyushu Environment Museum
2-2-6 Higashida, Yahata Higashi-ku, Kitakyushu-shi, Fukuoka, 805-0000.
Tel: 093 663 6751
Kitakyushu Environment Museum is located five minutes from JR Spaceworld Station
Entrance 100 yen adults, 50 yen children.
Open 9am-5pm. Closed Mondays.
Kitakyushu Municipal Art Museum
The Kitakyushu Municipal Art Museum is located on a hilltop at the junction of three wards, Tobata, Kokura Kita, and Yahata Higashi. The distinctive architecture of the Kitakyushu Municipal Art Museum was designed by Kyushu-born architect Arata Isozaki and the park-like grounds offer views over Kitakyushu and a scattering of sculptures. The Kitakyushu Municipal Art Museum has a collection of over 6,000 artworks, both Japanese and Western, including Hokusai, Utagawa, Degas, Monet, Renoir and Rodin.
Kitakyushu Municipal Art Museum
21-1 Nishi sayagatani-machi, Tobata-ku, Kitakyushi-shi, Fukuoka, 804-0024
Open 9.30am-5.30pm. Closed Mondays
150 yen entrance to the permanent exhibition for adults. Prices for special exhibitions varies.
A 15 min walk from JR Tobata Station or by Nishitetsu Bus from Kokura or Yahata.
Hiraodai Plateau is the third largest karst in Japan and it pushes north into Kitakyushu. A Quasi-National park, the highest point is Mt Sarakura at 622 meters, affording spectacular views over Kitakyushu and across the straits to Honshu.
The nighttime view is ranked as one of the three best night views in Japan. A cable car, the longest in Kyushu, takes you most of the way up and a Slope car takes you the final leg to the top and the observatory and visitor Center. The observatory is open from 10am-5.30pm weekdays and 10-8.30pm on weekends, National Holidays, and during the summer.
The cable car and slope car timetables are synchronized and it takes only 10 minutes in total from the base of the mountain to the top.
Cable Car (one way) 800 yen adults, 400 yen child
Slope Car (one way) 200 yen adults, 100 yen child
A free shuttle bus runs on weekends and holidays from JR Yahata Station.
Mount Sarakura Observatory
1481-1 Oaza, Ogura, Yahata Higashi-ku, Kitakyushu, Fukuoka.
Tel: 093 671 4761
Kitakyushu Access - Getting To Kitakyushu
Kitakyushu Airport is a new airport built on an an artificial island and is unusual in that it operates 24 hours a day. Several airlines run scheduled flights to and from Tokyo Haneda Airport, but Fukuoka Airport is less than 30 minutes away by train and has flights from many more domestic and international airports.
Kokura is the first station of the Sanyo Shinkansen in Kyushu and all trains stop here. It takes less than 5 hours from Tokyo, 3 hours from Nagoya, and a little over 2 hours from Osaka. The newly opened Kyushu Shinkansen connects to Kumamoto in less than an hour and Kagoshima in just over 100 minutes. From Kokura take the Sonic Limited express to Kunisaki, Oita & Beppu.
The Sanyo Line runs a fast shuttle to and from Shimonoseki. The Kagoshima Line and the Nippo Line connect to all areas of Kyushu. Within Kitakyushu the Monorail runs about 9km from Kokura Station to Kokura Minami. Mojiko and Kokura are connected by frequent trains on the Kagoshima Line (12 minutes; 270 yen).
Kitakyushu is served by several long distance domestic car ferries. A daily ferry from Tokyo stops at Tokushima on Shikoku, There are several ferries from Osaka and one from Kobe, and a direct ferry from Matsuyama on Shikoku. There are also small passenger ferries across the narrow straits to Shimonoseki and also to some smaller nearby islands. There is a high-speed speed ferry to Ulsan in Korea.