137.Fukui Castle Part2

A park and office buildings stay together in the castle ruins.


Still active Main Enclosure front gate

Now, the ruins of Fukui Castle have been used as a park and the ground for official buildings including the prefectural office. The area of the ruins is inside the Inner Moat including the Main Enclosure.

The aerial photo around the castle

The public workers commute by entering the front gate of the enclosure in the south, after crossing the Gohonjo Bridge over the Inner Moat, like the warriors of the Fukui Domain used to do. In the past, the front gate consisted of a defensive square space surrounded by two gate buildings and the stone walls, called Masugata. You can climb up to part of the remaining stone walls to look around the gate.

Going to the front gate of the enclosure by crossing the Gohonjo Bridge
The old photo of the front gate, from the signboard at the site
The present front gate
Climbing up to the top of the stone walls
The front gate seen from the top of the stone walls

Must-see Main Tower Base

You can walk around the inside of the Main Enclosure, but only outside the office buildings where the Main Hall was.

The ruins of the Main Enclosure are close to the office buildings

You should check out the remaining stone wall base for the Main Tower at the northwest corner of the enclosure. The base has two tiers, and the upper tier is for the large Main Tower and the small Main Tower. The stone walls look great but appear to have partially collapsed or are misaligned. This is due to the Fukui Earthquake in 1948.

The stone wall base for the Main Tower
The upper tier on which the large Main Tower was
The collapsing part of the stone walls

The restored well, called Fuku-no-i or the Fortune Well, is still on the lower tier. In fact, some people say the name of the well may be the origin of the castle’s later name, Fukui.

The restored Fortune Well

Restored Gate and Bridge

At the western entrance of the Main Enclosure near the base for the Main Tower, the gate building called Yamazatoguchi-gomon and the roofed Passage Bridge called Oroka-bashi over the Inner Moat were restored recently in the original method.

The restored Yamazatoguchi-gomon Gate and Oroka-bashi Bridge

The lord of the castle passed the original bridge and gate from his residence called Gozasho outside the enclosure to the Main Hall in the enclosure to govern the domain.

The old photo of the gate and roofed Passage Bridge, from the signboard at the site

You can try walking on the restored bridge and gate as well as entering the second floor of the gate to see its interior and an exhibition for the castle.

Crossing the roofed Passage Bridge
The Yamazatoguchi-gomon Gate
The interior of the second floor of the Yamazatoguchi-gomon Gate

Remaining Inner Moat and Main Enclosure stone walls

How about walking around the outside of the Inner Moat as well?

The Main Enclosure seen from the outside of the Inner Moat

For example, you can see the great stone walls for the Tatsumi-Yagura Turret at the southeast corner of the Main Enclosure. It was a three-story turret which was considered the substitute for the Main Tower after the tower was burned. The Main Enclosure originally had the Main Tower or turrets for its four corners.

The stone walls of the Tatsumi-Yagura Turret
The old photo of the Tatsumi-Yagura Turret, from the signboard at the site

To be continued in “Fukui Castle Part3”
Back to “Fukui Castle Part1”

137.福井城 その2




























137.Fukui Castle Part1

The center of Echizen Province

Location and History

It starts as Kitanosho Castle

Fukui Castle was located in what is now Fukui City, the prefectural capital of Fukui Prefecture. The name of the city originates from this castle. However, the castle was originally named Kitanosho Castle (Kitanosho means like the Northern Manor). Katsuie Shibata under a great warlord, Nobunaga Oda, first built the castle in 1575 when they conquered Echizen Province (now part of Fukui Prefecture).

The location of the castle

The portrait of Katsuie Shibata, from the signboard at the site

When Hideyoshi Hashiba, who would become the ruler, Hideyoshi Toyotomi, attacked the castle in 1583, he wrote in his letter that the castle had a nine-leveled Main Tower. It’s quite uncertain if the castle really had the nine-leveled Main Tower because the word nine-leveled also means just “have many levels” in Japanese. Katsuie was unfortunately defeated by Hideyoshi, while Kitanosho Castle was burned and destroyed.

The Portrait of Hideyoshi Toyotomi, attributed to Mitsunobu Kano, owned by Kodaiji Temple, licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons
The imaginary drawing of the first Kitanosho Castle, from the signboard at the site

Hideyasu Yuki rebuilds it as Lord of large domain

In 1601, Hideyasu Yuki, the son of the final ruler, Ieyasu Tokugawa, rebuilt Kitanosho Castle as the founder of the Kitanosho Domain. Hideyasu was a big brother of Ieyasu’s successor, Hidetada Tokugawa, but he was sent to Hideyoshi, and the Yuki Clan later to be adopted. It could be because he was not loved by his father, Ieyasu. However, Hideyasu was distinguished in the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600 before his father became the founder of the Tokugawa Shogunate. Ieyasu finally accepted Hideyasu and allowed him to have a large role in the shogunate. Hideyasu became a lord who had the second largest territory excluding the shogun in Japan with 750,000 kokus of rice. He was also allowed to use the family name “Matsudaira” which means the relatives of the shogun. Echizen Province was very important spot for the shogunate to be near Kyoto, the capital of Japan, and next to the owners of the largest territory, the Maeda Clan.

The statue of Hideyasu Yuki at the ruins of Fukui Castle
The Portrait of Ieyasu Tokugawa, attributed to Tanyu Kano, owned by Osaka Castle Museum, licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

It is said that Hideyasu’s father, Ieyasu designed part of the layout of Kitanosho castle. The Main Enclosure was the center of the castle, which had the four-leveled Main Tower and the Main Hall and was surrounded by the stone walls and the Inner Moat. The Second Enclosure, the Third Enclosure, and the Outbound Enclosure were built around the center concentrically. These enclosures were divided by the water moats. As a result, the castle was surrounded by quadruple or quintuple water moats. The castle had over 10 turrets and 40 gates. The size of the castle reached about 2km square.

The imaginary drawing of the Main Enclosure of Fukui Castle, from the signboard at the site
The range of Fukui Castle in the Edo Period shown on the present map, from the signboard at the site

Echizen-Matsudaira Clan prospers

The castle was completed in 1606 after Hideyasu died in 1604. The Matsudaira Clan, renamed from the Yuki Clan governed the castle and domain until the end of the Edo Period, while the name of the castle and domain were changed from Kitanosho to Fukui by the third lord, Tadamasa. The Main Tower was unfortunately burned down by a fire in 1669 and not restored. The 14th lord, Shungaku Matsudaira was active in the central government during the end of the Edo Period and the Meiji Restoration.

The portrait of Tadamasa Matsudaira, exhibited by Fukui City History Museum, licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons
The photo of Shungaku Matsudaira, owned by Fukui City History Museum, licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

In addition, Hideyasu’s descendants prospered greatly. The branch families which started from Hideyasu’s sons became the lords of several castles by the end of the Edo Period, such as Tsuyama Castle, Matsue Castle, Maebashi Castle and Akashi Castle. They are often called the Echizen-Matsudaira Clan including the lord of Fukui Castle. We can say Hideyasu’s efforts were rewarded good enough.

Tsuyama Castle
Matsue Castle
Akashi Castle

To be continued in “Fukui Castle Part2”