Tobata (戸畑区; -ku) is the smallest ward of Kitakyushu city. Population: 64,330 (national census, 2000). Area: 16.6 square km.
In 1899 Tobata-cho (Tobata town) was created, and in 1924 Tobata-shi (Tobata city). The city was merged into Kitakyushu in 1963. Officially Tobata became a ward of Kitakyushu on April 1, 1963.
The Waka-To O-hashi bridge from the Tobata side of the Dokai wan
The Wakato ferry under Wakato bridge
Part of Tobata ward faces the sea inlet or firth (Scottish English) called Dokai wan, and the surrounding outer sea is called Hibiki nada. The red-painted bridge between Tobata and Wakamatsu wards is called the Waka-To Ohashi (Great Bridge of Waka-To) and was the first suspension bridge in Asia, completed in 1963.
Much of this ward, especially the part facing the open sea, is taken up by the Nippon Steel (Shin Nihon Seitetsu) foundries, blast furnaces, coaling docks etc. though the numbers employed there are greatly reduced since the heyday of steelmaking in the 1960s, from about 25,000 to 8,000 employees.
Tobata's greatest and proudest treasure is the annual festival (matsuri) called the Tobata Gion Yamagasa festival.
The West Japan Industrial Club (Nishi Nihon Kogyo Club)
The West Japan Industrial Club (Matsumoto-tei, a house owned by Mr. Matsumoto), a large house and garden adjoining Yomiya park, was designed by Tatsuno Kingo who also designed Tokyo Station as a monument to Japan's victory in the Russo-Japanese War. A scene from the 2003 movie "Spy Sorge" (director Masahiro Shinoda) about Richard Sorge was shot in the garden,
Nearby Kyushu Institute of Technology (founded by Mr. Matsumoto in 1907) has its oldest campus (the faculty of engineering) in Tobata.
The most important annual folk-cultural event is the Tobata Gion festival designated a national intangible cultural asset, and the Kitakyushu city art museum is also here. There are standing exhibits of Western and Japanese art and regularly changing art exhibitions.
The noted rugby player Takuro Miuchi is from Tobata. There is a rugby ground at Astem no Mori, and Sayagatani. Miuchi first learned to play rugby at Sayagatani rugby school.
Transport & Facilities
There are two JR Kyushu rail stations on the Kagoshima Main Line (Kagoshima honsen): Tobata Station and Kyushu Koudaimae Station, named after Kyushu Institute of Technology which is seven minutes walk from there. Buses are run by the Nishitetsu company.
Tobata Saty is next to JR Tobata station. It is a kind of local and down-market department store, as compared with Isetan and Izutsuya in nearby Kokura Kita ward.
Other wards of Kitakyushu:
- Tobata Gion festival (http://www.culture-dome.or.jp/FS-E/FESTA/JUL/FESTA_9.HTM) (English)
- KIT Tobata campus (http://www.kyutech.ac.jp/english/tobata/index.html) (English)
- Tobata ward office (http://www.city.kitakyushu.jp/~tobata/) (Japanese official page)
- Kitakyushu Municipal Museum of Art (http://kmma.jp/) (Japanese)
- Kitakyushu Techno Center (http://www.kitakyu-techno-ctr.co.jp/) (Japanese)
- Wel Tobata (http://www.wel-tobata.jp/) (Japanese)