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The Kanmon Straits (関門海峡 Kanmon Kaikyō) or the Straits of Shimonoseki is the stretch of water separating two of Japanmarker's four main islands. On the Honshūmarker side of the water is Shimonoseki (下関, which contributed "Kan" (関) to the name of the strait) and on the Kyūshūmarker side is Kitakyūshū, whose former city and present ward, Mojimarker (門司), gave the strait its "mon" (門). The straits silt up at the rate of about 15 centimetres per annum, and dredging has made it possible to build the New Kitakyushu Airportmarker at low cost.

Population of Kanmon area

The total population of the Kanmon area is about 1.3 million, counting the whole of Kitakyūshū (approx one million) and Shimonoseki (approx 300,000), although detailed definitions vary widely, see Fukuoka-Kitakyūshū. A new airportmarker opened in Kitakyushu on March 16, 2006 which is expected to bring further prosperity in the form of increased tourism and trade to the area.


Fireworks festival

The Kanmon Straits Summer Fireworks Viewing dwarfed all the neighbouring ones with no less than 13,000 fireworks being let off in 2005, when the 18th annual display was held on August 13. There were large crowds of more than one million—watching from both sides of the straits.The Fireworks Festival is held on August 13 every year. The 20th festival in 2007 was televised by NHKmarker and broadcast live nationwide in hi-vision.

Boat rides

The Voyager pleasure boat departs from Moji-ko and cruises the straits.

Helicopter & airship flights

Helicopter joyrides are available from Kaikyo Dramaship in Moji-ko.

In October 2005, one of the world's largest airships currently flying (a Zeppelin NT imported from Germany) also passed through Moji on an all-Japan tour, and airship flights may be available to tourists in future. This airship was purchased by Nippon Airship Corporation in June 2004 and has been used in the Tokyo area and at the Aichimarker Expo 2005marker.

Transportation across the straits

The Kanmon Straits can be crossed in a number of ways, the oldest of which are the ferries. There is a car ferry between Nishiminato (Kokura) and Hikinoshima (Shimonoseki) which takes about ten minutes, and a passenger ferry from Moji-ko to Shimonoseki (Karato wharf). There is also a bridge which carries an expressway. By far the most used method is a number of tunnels which carry the Shinkansen, trains, cars, and even one for pedestrians at the narrowest point.

The first railway tunnel was opened on November 15, 1942. The road tunnel was opened on March 9, 1958. The Kanmonkyo Bridgemarker (see photo) was opened to vehicles on November 14, 1973. The Shinkansen tunnel was opened on March 10, 1975.

Commercial importance

The Kanmon straits is also the connection between the Sea of Japanmarker and the Inland Seamarker. It is used by many cargo ships as a short cut to Osaka and Tokyomarker from Koreamarker and Chinamarker. The New Kitakyushu Airportmarker is also nearby.

Historical significance


Ferries from Shimonoseki Port International Terminal

External links

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