71.福山城~Fukuyama Castle

Fukuyama City really started from this castle.

立地と歴史~Location and History

新しい城と町~New Castle and Town

Fukuyama Castle is located in Fukuyama City to the eastern part of Hiroshima Prefecture. Today, the city is the second largest city in the prefecture, but there had been no town before the castle was built. Before that, the area belonged to the Fukushima Clan who lived in Hiroshima Castle.

城の位置~The location of the castle

In 1619, the clan were fired by the Tokugawa Shogunate and their territory was divided among other clans. The shogunate sent Katsunari Mizuno, a hereditary feudal lord to one of the divided territories, to monitor other lords in western Japan. Katsunari was responsible for building a new castle on a hill in the delta of a river called Ashidagawa with a new castle town. The new castle was called Fukuyama Castle, which is said to be the last newly built large-scale castle in Japan. This is because the Shogunate basically banned the lords from building any new castles from 1615. The case of Fukuyama Castle is very rare.

水野勝成肖像画、賢忠寺蔵~The portrait of Katsunari Mizuno, owned by Kenchuji Temple (licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons)

天守と櫓~Main Tower and Turrets

The castle was built with three enclosures – the Main, the Second, and the Third Enclosures. The Inner Moat was built between the Second and the Third Enclosures. The Outer Moat surrounded the whole castle. Many turrets and gates were built or moved from other castles. For example, the Fushimi Turret was moved from Fushimi Castle. The Main Tower was on the Main Enclosure, which had five layers and its roofs were decorated with Chinese style gables and triangular shaped gables. The unique feature of the tower was that its northern side was all covered with black steel plates to prevent damage from canon fire from other hills in the north. The construction took three years before the castle was completed in 1622.

福山城のミニチュアモデル~The miniature model of Fukuyama Castle (福山城博物館~the Fukuyama Castle Museum)

優れた城主たち~Excellent Lords of Castle

Katsunari was also a good politician who created the Fukuyama Water Supply, one of the most famous water supplies in the Edo Period in Japan. After that, several lords of the castle also had important roles in the central Shogunate. For example, Masahiro Abe became the head of the Shogun’s council of elders and handled the difficult diplomatic problems at the end of the Edo Period such as the arrivals of Matthew Perry’s fleet from the US in 1853 and 1854. However, the castle was targeted by the New Government Army in 1868. They opened fire and a cannon ball entered into the Main Tower before the defenders surrendered. The ball, fortunately, didn’t explode.

阿部正弘写真~The picture of Masahiro Abe (licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons)


駅からすぐの本丸~Main Enclosure next to Station

Now, Fukuyama Castle is very close to Fukuyama Station, or we can rather say the station is in the castle. The station was actually built on the reclaimed Inner Moat, the Second Enclosure, and the Third Enclosure. The street along the northern side of the station was the edge of the Second Enclosure. Only the Main Enclosure and part of the Second Enclosure remain as Fukuyama Castle Park.

城周辺の航空写真~The aerial photo around the castle

福山駅から見た福山城~A view of Fukuyama Castle from Fukuyama Station

You can first see the Main Enclosure surrounded by two-step stone walls from the north exit of Fukuyama Station. It has a very strong presence. The surface of the stone walls is covered with burn marks in some areas which was caused by the Great Fukuyama Air Raid in 1945. You can also walk into the enclosure easily through a moderate slope at the main entrance of the park on the east. This entrance was built in the present day.

石垣に見える焦げ跡~The burn marks on the stone walls
城への入口~The entrance to the castle

再建された天守~Rebuilt Main Tower

The five-layer Main Tower we now see was rebuilt in 1966 and is used as the Fukuyama Castle Museum where you can learn more about the castle and the city. However, the tower is now being renovated. The renovations will continue until 2022. The appearance of the tower is different from the original one. For example, the present one doesn’t have the black steel plates. The plates will be added to the tower after the renovation.

再建された天守~The rebuilt Main Tower
天守からの眺め~A view from the Main Tower

現存する建物~Remaining Buildings

There are only three remaining buildings in the castle called Fushimi Turret, Sujigane-gomon Gate and the Bell Tower. Fushimi Turret and Sujigane-gomon Gate are designated as Important Cultural Properties. In particular, Fusimi Turret is an old style, large three-story turret that was moved from Fushimi Castle (so called Fusimi Turret). It is one of the oldest remaining turrets in Japan. However, access to its interior by the public, is available just one day a year.

伏見櫓~Fushimi Turret
筋金御門~Sujigane-gomon Gate
鐘楼~The Bell Tower

There are also several traditional style buildings such as Tsukimi Turret which were rebuilt at the same time as the present Main Tower.

月見櫓~Tsukimi Turret

その後~Later History

After the Meiji Restoration, Fukuyama Castle was abandoned, and its buildings and ground excluding the Main Enclosure were sold. The Main Enclosure with several buildings such as the Main Tower somehow remained as Fukuyama Park. The Main Tower was designated as a National Treasure in 1931. However, it was unfortunately burned down by The Great Fukuyama Air Raid in 1945.

戦前の福山城と福山駅~Fukuyama Castle and Fukuyama Station before World War II (licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons)

After World War II, the castle was developed as a park again. It was designated as a National Historic Site in 1964, and the Main Tower and other buildings were rebuilt in 1966. On the other hand, the area around the park was completely turned into the city area. Some have pointed out that the ruins of the castle were destroyed without enough investigations during the urbanization.

再建された天守~The rebuilt Main Tower

私の感想~My Impression

I think that Fukuyama Castle has great potential for becoming a historical park. I’m looking forward to seeing the renewal of the Main Tower after the renovation. However, I feel that officials should feature the remaining buildings such as Fushimi Turret more. For example, it should be open to the public on more days each year. Officials should also let people know what the castle was like in the past because there wouldn’t be Fukuyama City itself without Fukuyama Castle.

伏見櫓(正面)~Fushimi Turret (the front) (taken by ジュンP from photo AC)
伏見櫓(裏側)~Fushimi Turret (the back)

ここに行くには~How to get There

Fukuyama Castle is very close to the north (Fukuyama-jo) exit of Fukuyama Station. It takes about one or two minutes to walk to the castle from the station.

リンク、参考情報~Links and References

福山城博物館、福山市(Fuyama Castle Museum)
・よみがえる日本の城7、学研(Japanese Book)
・「日本の城改訂版第82号」デアゴスティーニジャパン(Japanese Book)
・「幕末維新の城/一坂太郎著」中公新書(Japanese Book)

投稿者: Yuzo

城巡りが好きなYuzoです。日本には数万の城があったといわれています。その内の200名城を手始めにどんどん紹介していきます。 I'm Yuzo, I love visiting castles and ruins. It is said that there were tens of thousands castles in Japan. I will introduce you top 200 castles and ruins of them, and more!