Japanese Castles: Fukui Castle
Fukui Castle Ruins 福井城
Fukui Castle (Fukui-jo), is the ruin of a former flatland castle, a short stroll from the West Exit of Fukui Station in Fukui city.
Little remains of the original Fukui Castle except for its impressive stone walls and moats, though the site is gradually being restored and renewed. The grounds of Fukui Castle are now the location of the Fukui Prefectural Office and the Prefectural Police Head Office.
In 2008 the wooden Orokabashi Bridge was restored to its original design and is an impressive feature of the castle grounds.
Fukui Castle History
Fukui Castle was built from 1601-1606 by Yuki Hideyasu, the second son of Ieyasu Tokugawa, by his concubine, Oman.
As reward for Yuki Hideyasu's support at the epoch defining Battle of Sekigahara in 1600, he was granted land in the Echizen area and began construction of the castle on a grand scale.
The Kawara Gomon was the main gate into the castle over the Gohonjobashi Bridge and within the original citadel was a 30m-40m tall keep (tenshu) and three watchtowers on the north east, south east and south west corners.
The Orokabashi Bridge was for use of only the daimyo and his closest family and retainers. This was rebuilt on the occasion of the 400th anniversary of Fukui Castle.
Yuki Hideyasu's second son, Matsudaira Tadamasa, took over control of Fukui Castle following his father's death. However Fukui Castle's keep was destroyed by fire in 1669 and was never rebuilt.
At the beginning of the Meiji Period of Japanese history, only the stone walls, moats and the daimyo's palace escaped demolition by the new authorities, intent on destroying the last vestiges of Tokugawa power. The daimyo's palace was unfortunately destroyed by US air raids during World War II.
Within the castle the fuku-no-i ("Good Luck") well still remains and this is thought to have given the name to the present city.
The northern bailey of Fukui Castle was excavated during the construction of the Fukui City History Museum, adjacent to the Yokokan Garden, a guest house of the Matsudaira clan, also used as a residence for the daimyo. The Tonerimon Gate and the earth and grass banks have been restored on the perimeter of the museum. In the Edo Period, houses of the castle's samurai were located here.
The grounds of Fukui Castle's main bailey are now taken up by the large office buildings of the Fukui Prefectural Office and the Prefectural Police Head Office.
A modern statue of Yuki Hideyasu stands in the castle grounds, which, along with the banks of the Asuwagawa River, are Fukui's main places for cherry blossom viewing (hanami).
3-17-1 Ote, Fukui, 910-0005
Access To Fukui - how to get to Fukui Castle
Fukui Station is on the JR Hokuriku Line from Maibara Station in Shiga Prefecture to Naoetsu Station in Niigata Prefecture.
From Kyoto there are Thunderbird Express trains taking about 80 minutes to Fukui.
Fukui Castle is a 5 minute walk from Fukui Station.
Fukui city also has the small site of the ruined Kitanosho Castle, built by the warlord Shibata Katsuie in 1575. The supposedly nine-story keep was burnt down by Katsuie in 1583 killing himself and his wife Oichi, following his forces' defeat at the Battle of Shizugatake to Toyotomi Hideyoshi. Fukui Prefecture's best castle is Maruoka Castle, one of the dozen original castle's still left in Japan.
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