158.Fukuchiyama Castle Part3

As long as looking at the stone wall base for the Main Tower of Fukuchiyama Castle, Mitsuhide Akechi seems to have followed a policy of Nobunaga Oda’s castle constructions. That means Mitsuhide was a follower of Nobunaga.


Views from Restored Main Tower

The current Main Tower is actually a restored modern building which is used as a historical museum and an observation platform, where you can learn about Mitsuhide Akechi and the history of the castle. You can also enjoy a view of the city area around the castle from the top floor. For instance, you can see the Third Enclosure which is used as the City Hall on the right and the Hoki-maru Enclosure which has become a park on the left, over the residential area of the former Second Enclosure in the west.

The map around the castle

The interrior of the Main Tower
A view to the west from the tower
The Third Enclosure has become the City Hall
The Hoki-maru Park

In the northern direction, you can see the Yuragawa River and the bank along it that Mitsuhide built, and it’s called Akechi-yabu or Akechi-bush. Mitsuhide planted bamboos along the river bank to make it durable.

A view to the north from the tower
The Akechi Bush

Only remaining building of Castle

Akagane-mon Bansho or the Guardhouse for the Bronze Gate, which is located in the Main Enclosure, is the only remaining part of the building and is one of its attractions. It had been originally built in the Second Enclosure, but was moved to the current position because the said Second enclosure was removed. In addition, the building of the Bronze Gate was moved to Shogenji Temple in the city and is used as its front gate.

The map around the castle

The Guardhouse for the Bronze Gate in the Main Enclosure
The ruins of the Bronze Gate
The front gate of Shogenji Temple, quoted from the Fukuchiyama City Website

Later History

After the Meiji Restoration, Fukuchiyama Castle was abandoned and most of the castle buildings including the Main Tower were demolished or moved. It is said that the 20th Infantry Regiment of the Imperial Japanese Army destroyed the Second Enclosure for the convenient of the transit between their station and maneuvering ground. On the other hand, people in Fukuchiyama wanted to restore the Main Tower as a symbol of the city for a long time. The restoration launched since 1968 when the illustration of the castle in the Edo Period was found. It is once faced with a budget problem, but it was completed in 1986 with lot of donation from the citizens, which was more than a half of the final budget.

The Second Enclosure was removed and became the city area

My Impression

One of the popular assumptions of the reason for Mitsuhide’s rebellion has been the difference of Nobunaga and Mitsuhide’s characters. It is said that Nobunaga was radical while Mitsuhide was traditional. However, as long as looking at the stone wall base for the Main Tower of Fukuchiyama Castle, Mitsuhide seems to have followed a policy of Nobunaga’s castle constructions. It refers to using anything including Buddhism items to build their castles immediately. I honestly say that the stone walls using the tomb stones looks little strange. There is no telling how people at that time felt. I think Mitsuhide was definitely a follower of Nobunaga. A new assumption recently came that Mitsuhide’s position became weak during the discussion about how Nobunaga would invade the Shikoku Region. Mitsuhide’s opinion about it was rejected and his rival, Hideyoshi’s one was taken by Nobunaga. The Honnoji Incident occurred just before the invasion would be done. I’m wondering if the real reason for Mitsuhide’s decision will be uncovered.

The joint of the newer stones on the left and the older ones on the right for the stone wall base of Fukuchiyama Castle’s Main Tower
The portrait of Nobunaga Oda, attributed to Soshu Kano, owned by Chokoji Temple, in the late 16th century (licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons)
The Portrait of Hideyoshi Toyotomi, attributed to Mitsunobu Kano, owned by Kodaiji Temple (licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons)

How to get There

If you want to visit there by car, it is about 3 kms away from Fukuchiyama IC on the Maizuru-Wakasa Expressway. There is a parking lot beside the castle hill.
By public transportation, it takes about 15 minutes on foot to get there from JR Fukuchiyama Station.
From Tokyo to Fukuchiyama Station: Take the Tokaido Shinkansen super express and transfer to the Sanin Line at Kyoto Station.

The parking lot of the Fukuchiyama Castle Park

That’s all. Thank you.
Back to “Fukuchiyama Castle Part1”
Back to “Fukuchiyama Castle Part2”

163.Kuroi Castle Part2

A distant view of the ruins is so good that you can see great stone walls on the top and a red gate building on the middle slope, which indicate where you should go.


Castle Ruins seen from Town area

Today, the ruins of Kuroi Castle now belong to Kasuga Town in Tanba City, Hyogo Prefecture. The area around was called Kasukabe Manor in the past, so it is said the name of Lady Kasuga originated from the land’s name. The town recommends visiting both of the ruins and places related to the lady. A distant view of the ruins is so good that you can see great stone walls on the top and a red gate building on the middle slope, which indicate where you should go.

The distant view of the castle ruins seen from the town area

As you get close to the ruins, there will be the rest house with a parking lot for visitors and Kozenji Temple behind. You can get some information and pamphlets about Kuroi Castle there. The temple has stone walls and water moats in front of its entrance gate, which looks different from other common temples. In fact, it is said that it is the former residence for the lord of the castle at the foot area. It is also said that Lady Kasuga grew up there when she lived with his father, Toshimitsu Saito. This spot should be the starting point of visiting the castle ruins.

The rest house and the parking lot
Kozenji Temple
The stone walls and water moats in front of the entrance gate of the temple

Two Routes to Top of Mountain

One of the pamphlets says there are two routes to the castle ruins on the top of the mountain; the Gentle Course and the Steep Slope Course. The former one goes around the western ridge which seems to be not one of the original routes to the top. While the latter is certainly the original one on the eastern ridge because the Three-tiered Enclosure is still on the route. Both routes eventually meet at the Sekito Tiers on the middle slope of the mountain, so it may be better to choose either one when you climb up and the other when you return. However, both routes cover very few forts of Kuroi Castle, therefore, it may also be better to try visiting other forts as you experience more.

The starting point of the routes
The yellow broken line shows the Gentle Course and the green broken line shows the Steep Slope Course, from the pamphlet
Part of the Gentle Course

The warning board says “Beware of bears” and whichever you choose from the routes, you have to open and close two wire gates to contain animals between the gates. Therefore, it is recommended to have a bear-avoiding bell to prevent from provoking wild animals.

The warning board
The first wire gate

If you choose the Steep Slope Course, you will first climb the very steep stone steps of the Toyooka-Inari Shrine. Then, you will also climb a steep slope on the eastern ridge of the mountain, which may have been the Main Route to the castle. The Three-tiered Enclosure is still on the ridge, where you can see its foundations made of soil.

The map arond the castle

The stone steps of the Steep Slope Course
The Three-tiered Enclosure
The foundations of the enclosure

After you continue to climb, you can visit the Drum Tier off the route. It is an empty space but a good viewing point. It is said there was a drum turret and a lookout tower when the castle was active. The drum might have been used to inform time and instruct soldiers.

The Drum Tier

Sekito Tiers with Red Gate

You will eventually arrive at the Sekito Tiers below the top. Though it is uncertain what the name “Sekito” or “Stepping on Stones” in English came from, the rocky terrain around it might have been its origin. It is also a good viewing spot, but the view from it seems to be in a different direction from that of the Drum Tier. It is also spaceous for a mountain area and has a red-colored gate building which you can see from the foot as well. The building was not originally part of the castle, but was moved from the foot of the mountain by local people when a temple which had had the gate was abandoned. Several other buildings of the castle might have been built when the castle was being used.

Going to the Sekito Tiers
The Sekito Tiers
A view from the enclosure

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

195.Nobeoka Castle Part3

A pleasure of visiting castle and castle ruins is …


Main Enclosure, Final Strongpoint of Castle

You can next walk on the stone steps beside the stone walls to the Main Enclosure. The route turns left, enters a square space surrounded by other stone walls and turn left again to enter. This square space is called Masugata for protecting the entrance of the enclosure, where the gate buildings were also built on the walls. The inside of the Main Enclosure is an empty square now like the Second Enclosure, so it has a good view point of the city area. It must also have been the final strongpoint of the castle, which could use the 1,000 Murder Stone Walls to repel enemies.

Walking on the stone steps to the Main Enclosure

The map around the castle

The top of the hill next to the Main Enclosure is the Main Tower Enclosure or Base which actually didn’t have the Main Tower. The enclosure is small which could rather have been used as a lookout. There is a bell tower which the keeper still rings the bell 6 times a day at designated times. It has been done for over 140 years since 1878 after the former Drum Turret was burned down during the Seinan War in 1877. It is simple thing, but it is very rare to continue to do so without any holidays. The Three-level Turret was built below the enclosure probably as the substitute of the Main Tower. However, it unfortunately burned down in 1682 and only its stone wall base remains now.

Bell Tower still announces Time

The bell tower in the Main Enclosure, quoted from the Nobeoka City website
The ruins of the Three-level Turret  (licensed by PIXTA)

If you have time, I recommend visiting the western side of the Second Enclosure which was also surrounded by great stone walls. These stone walls were built for preventing enemies from attacking the castle and the Inner Moat was built outside of it as well. However, the outside area was turned into modern residences just across a narrow path. Therefore, you can see the great stone walls close by and an interesting contrast with many houses.

Stone Walls close to Residential Areas

The aerial photo around the castle, the stone walls of the Second Enclosure are close to residence areas

My Impression

I didn’t know about Mototane Takahashi who built the castle and the story of the 1,000 Murder Stone Walls at all before I visited the castle ruins. I think one of the pleasures of visiting castle ruins is that it will make you interested in what you really see and think much more than just reading about them or watching media.

The 1,000 Murder Stone Walls

How to get There

If you want to visit the castle ruins by car, it is about a 10 minute drive away from Nobeoka IC on the Higashi-Kyushu Expressway. There are several parking lots for visitors around the ruins.
If you want to use public transportation, it takes about 20 minutes on foot to get there form JR Nobeoka Station. You can also take the Miyazaki-kotsu bus bound for Kyushu-Hokenfukushi-Daigaku from the station and get off at the Shiyakusho-mae bus stop or take the Machinaka-junkan bus on the Uchimawari Line from the station and get off at the Kyuden-mae, Shiyakusho-nishi bus stop.
For visitors from Tokyo or Osaka: Get the JR Line at Miyazaki Airport after using a plane.

That’s all. Thank you.
Back to “Nobeoka Castle Part1”
Back to “Nobeoka Castle Part2”