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Isetan department store, Kokura
Miyamoto Musashi in his prime, wielding two bokken. Woodblock print by Utagawa Kuniyoshi
"Seishin Chokudō" (earnest heart, straight way) monument dedicated to Miyamoto Musashi at the foot of Kokura castle on the spot where Musashi is said to have lived.

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 Sanyo Shinkansen line, which is owned by JR West. Ferries connect Kokura with Matsuyama on Shikoku, and Busan in Korea.


Edo period[edit]

The Ogasawara and Hosokawa clans were Daimyos 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[edit]

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[edit]

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.[1]


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[edit]

Notable figures born in Kokura[edit]


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

Notable facts[edit]

The city is the site of the main dojo (hombu) of Miyamoto Musashi's sword school, Hyoho Niten Ichi-ryū.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Daley, Ted, "Apocalypse Never: Forging the Path to a Nuclear Weapon-Free World", Rutgers University Press, 2010. p. 240
  2. ^ [1]

Coordinates: 33°53′N 130°53′E / 33.883°N 130.883°E / 33.883; 130.883