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Skyline over the Kanmon Straits, Japan

Scenic Cruising Kanmon Strait

The Kanmon Strait is a narrow channel of water that separates two of Japan's main islands, Honshu and Kyushu. The channel has long been important to maritime transportation and cargo ships, as it connects the Sea of Japan and the Inland Sea. Passenger and car ferries link the port cities of Shimonoseki and Kitakyushu, as do trains and bridges. The battle between the U.S. and Japanese navies that presaged the Shimonoseki Campaign in 1863 took place here, and eventually led to Japan's opening up to Western powers. The cannons used during the campaign can today be seen near Shimonoseki’s port, where you can also dine at gourmet restaurants serving local delicacies such as fugu (blowfish), shop at venues like the Sea Mall, and connect with ferry service to Busan, in South Korea, and the island of Kyushu.The port at Kitakyushu (Moji Port) is equally historic and attractive, serving as a gateway to Honshu and Kyushu for centuries as well as an important international trade hub since the late 19th century. Although more industrial than Shimonoseki, it has many Western-style buildings, including the neo-Renaissance Mojiko Station, constructed in 1914, as well as other tourist attractions such as a developed promenade and the Kawachi Fuji Gardens. A highlight of the Kanmon Strait is an annual fireworks display—the largest in Japan—with more than 13,000 rockets fired from both sides of the strait. The spectacle draws more than a million visitors every August.