Kokura is part of Kita-Kyushu, a heavy industry and trading area. I emerge from the JR station noticing this DO-NOT-DO sign. Apparently, smoking while walking is a no-no in many parts of Japan nowadays.
Today's Kokura Castle is a reconstruction from 1959. The original dates from the early 17th century and was destroyed by war in 1865, leaving only the stone walls and moats.
Inside, there are various exhibits, such as this model of Kokura Castle and the surrounding city. Note there are no faces on the dolls.
This painting of a female tiger commemorates the loss of Kokura Castle in the year of the tiger.
Upstairs, there is a panoramic view of the city.
Riverwalk Kitakyushu is a cultural, art, and shopping centre consisting several buildings of different heights, shapes, and colours.
The Zenrin Map Museum at Riverwalk showcases the company's cartographic skills. There is a library with their large map catalogues. The views were also spectacular as it is closer to the waterfront and JR station than the castle.
From Hakata, the Shinkansen is the fastest way to reach Kokura (16 minutes). However, the JR Kyushu Pass does not cover this stretch of Shinkansen, so the next fastest option would be the JR Sonic Limited Express (40 minutes).