A European breeze on the top of Kyushu
Rising to become a new competitor in Japan tourism recently, portal city Mojiko proves to be rewarding in every sensible way
Having stayed in Japan for roughly two years, I was amazed by myself that if anyone ever asks me to recommend a tourist attraction, the first name that pops up in my head has nothing to do with temples, hot springs or even the notorious sakura roads.
The name I would tell lies on the top of Kyushu map like the highest gem on a crown. Its name is Mojiko Retro.
Likewise, I came to know about Mojiko through a friend's suggestion on where I should give a try on a lone trip. Ever since then, I've fallen in love with the city and its aging existence.
Been serving as an international shipping center since the 20th century, this photogenic city was restored and partly reconstructed in the middle of the 1990s to become an attractive spot for vintageous souls.
Though Mojiko still remains an ambiguous place to Japan lovers because the railways were newly launched in 2018, once you get to know her, your heart forever stays.
"Train to Mojiko: departs at eight thirty", flickered the billboard at Kokura Station, the 2nd biggest transit terminal in Kyushu.
The railway route from Kokura only took 280 yen and 10 minutes of window outgazing. Clutching my secondhand travel bag, hardly had I leapt into the train's car when its door closed behind me.
It was my first solo trip in Japan, but my second time been to Mojiko. This time my companion was a camera loaded with 35mm film. It would be a waste if I could not show my Instagram friends the discovery of such aesthetically pleasing city.
Your breath would be taken right from the very first Mojiko Station, of which design closely resembles historic England architecture. You can choose to either have a cup of coffee in the safe warmth of station bakeries, or step out to explore the spacious harbor area where no means of transportation would give you more wanderlust pleasure than your own feet.
Surrounding the station locate several museums, non-traditional restaurants, buildings with Victorian looks and souvenir shops. A network of white walking paths links the constructions together. Each building serves a different role such as accommodation or exhibition.
Unlike the magnificence of Huis Ten Bosch or the spirituality in Nagasaki, everything in Mojiko Retro might remind you of a forgotten world instead.
There are barely crowds, only the seagulls dominate. Despite the picturesque seaside, Mojiko City as a whole might seem distant, but in some way, lone tourists like me and the city shall share something in common that would become a promise to reunite in future.
If your steps were ever led by your stomach, I would be glad to suggest my favourite restaurant inside the mixed department building, where you can try Mojiko's famous yaki curry.
The options range from pork to seafood curry, the latter is controversially divine. The curry is also sold as souvenirs in case you want to spread the joy of appetite.
Occasionally on sunny days, some flea markets would be held right on the granite square next to the sea. All the self-made or trained artists from every place in Japan would assemble, hoping not for money but rather a small applause.
If lucky, you can purchase an antique sea bottle that has the word "Mojiko Retro" carved on, or a lovely stamp of your own trademark that can't be found elsewhere, both at the price of a sandwich. Or else, you can buy a tapioca drink from the food stalls, find a wooden bench and let the salty but endearing sea-breezes caress your skin.
When the street lights are on, most tourists would head for Mojiko Retro Observation Room on the 31st floor of the highest building in the city. The service is open to offer anyone a ticket to nostalgia through an absolute night-view of the illuminated city.
It goes without saying that the Observation Room is where you dedicate eventual love to Mojiko. Once you have learnt by heart every path of Mojiko from above, a walk amongst the lighted trees around the harbor or an on-board experience of viewing the city from the sea will wrap up your day before heading back to the station.
Whether you are already a resident of Japan or a learning tourist, I can guarantee you will find Mojiko Retro a place that makes you want to return bringing your friends along!
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