Shimonoseki City is a tourist’s city. With beautiful scenery, distinctive culture, and a rich history, the Port of Shimonoseki has long prospered as the “Gateway to Japan.” The city has long-standing international links and many interesting and amusing attractions that visitors will enjoy.
Mimosuso-Gawa Park, above the Kanmon Straits, contains statues of the opposing leaders involved in the Battle of Dannoura. Commemorating the 820th anniversary of the battle, the city sponsors a short play, Yoshitsune Hasso-tobi, where citizen-volunteers play the warriors. The Akama-jingu Shrine is dedicated to the boy-emperor who drowned himself with the Heike clan after they were defeated at the Battle of Dannoura. Within the temple are the seven sacred mounds of the Heike warriors who lost the battle.
Each May, the Port of Shimonoseki’s Kaikyo Festival, based on the historic naval Battle of Dannoura involves Noblewomen parading to visit the Akama Shrine. The Genpei Fune Gassen is a reenactment of the Genpei War, with armored samurai warring on the sea. During the Ganryujima Island Festival, spectators enjoy a picnic and concert and watch a performance of a famous sword duel. About 13 thousand fireworks light the summer night sky. The Port of Shimonoseki has long had active night markets. The Shimonoseki Bakan Festival, happening all over the city, is a street festival in August.
The Port of Shimonoseki’s Marine Science Museum “Kaikyohan” is a fascinating aquarium with about 20 thousand fish and marine animals from 500 species. A large tank duplicates the Kanmon Straits environment. The museum also contains the largest blue whale skeleton in Japan. Marine mammal presentations take place at the Aqua-Theater where visitors can see bottlenose dolphin and sea lions throughout the year. Presentation schedules change each month.
The Port of Shimonoseki contains many cultural sites, including two national treasures, the Kozanji Temple Buddhist Sanctum and the Sumiyoshi-jinja Shrine. The 14th Century Kozanji temple fell into disrepair but was restored by the Chofu clan in 1602 when it became the family temple. This natural treasure is a typical Kamakura period Zen sect style. Each May, an ancient form of the otaue matsuri, a major rice-planting festival, is held at the Sumiyoshi-jinja Shrine.
Shunpanro Hall is the site where the Treat of Shimonoseki was signed in 1895, ending the Sino-Japanese War.