Japanese Castles: Fukuoka Castle, Fukuoka Prefecture
Fukuoka Castle 福岡城
History of Fukuoka Castle
Encompassing an area of 47,000 square meters and with an impressive 47 turrets (yagura) Fukuoka Castle was the biggest castle in Kyushu. Much of the grounds and the castle ruins are located in Maizaru Park, which with neighboring Ohori Park hosts a boating lake, traditional Japanese gardens, the excavated Korokan, the guesthouse for visiting foreign dignitaries in the Heian Period, and numerous sports facilities and an art museum. The park and castle are particularly popular during cherry blossom season when a big festival is held there.
Fukuoka Castle was constructed by Kuroda Nagamasa who had been given the Chikuzen Domain in 1600 for his part in the Battle of Sekigahara. He moved into Najima Castle which was located on a peninsular further along the bay, but deemed the castle too small and not in a good location to develop a castle town, so the site in Fukusaki was chosen and construction of the new castle began in 1601.
Construction was overseen by Noguchi Kazanari, a mason who later worked on both Osaka and Edo castles. An awful lot of stone was needed in the construction, some was brought from the dismantled Najima Castle, and some was taken from the old defensive walls built centuries before to defend against the Mongol Invasions, but much of it seems to have been quarries on nearby islands.
There was so much stonework that when Kato Kiyamasa from Kumamoto visited he named it Seki (stone) Castle. As well as the massive stone works there was a lot of re-engineering of the surrounding landscape, hills were leveled, slopes built up, but what was perhaps most impressive were the moats.
The river was diverted to form moats on two sides with widths varying from 45 to 110 meters, but most impressive was the Ohori (Big Moat) with a width of 600 meters, and the remains of which now form the lake in neighboring Ohori Park.
Fukuoka Castle was completed in 1607, and while the stone base for the central keep still remains it is unsure whether a keep was actually constructed. The castle was renamed Fukuoka Castle after the area the Kuroda family had come from. The Kuroda clan held the castle until it was decommissioned in 1871 and while there had been some restoration work over the centuries and a minor fire, the castle had remained intact until then. Of the original structures only a few turrets remain, though a gate and some other structures were moved to nearby Sofukuji Temple from where they are in the process of being returned.
Fukuoka Castle Access
Entrance to the castle grounds is free and there is plenty of English language information.
Jonai, Chuoku, Fukuoka City, Fukuoka 810 0043
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