Fukui Castle, Fukuyama Castle and Tomo Castle updates

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Fukui Castle, Fukuyama Castle and Tomo Castle updates

2024/05/19


This update brings all new photos to Fukui Castle and Fukuyama Catsle, both of which were long overdue for an overhaul. Tomo Castle was also newly added from a side trip to Fukuyama Castle. It's not just these three castles, however, sub-albums of these or other castles also cover relocated structures for Fukuyama Castle and Fushimi Castle too. Check them out.


 

Fukui Castle / 福井城

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Fukui Castle has a great complex of moats and stone walls to rival some of the largest castles in Japan. Unfortunately, no original buildings remain, but the city has put significant effort into rebuilding the bridge and gate complex you see in the photos below, even to the point of using crowdfunding to gather donations to get the job done. Next, there is also a somewhat controversial plan to rebuild the three level Hitsujisaru Yagura. The controversy comes in that they cannot build it the original height due to modern building codes. The proposal keeps the outward appearance but is scaled down to three interior levels (instead of the original 5) and is intended to be "barrier free". Further there is a lack of shakudani-ishi for the roof tiles so modern fired clay roof tiles typically used at castles have been proposed. Shakudani-ishi roof tiles would be amazing, if they could do it. They turn a lavish blue/green color when wet that was prized by people of the time. I would love to see such a building again!

A short walk away (~15mins) from the castle main compound you can also find the reconstructed Toneri Gate next to the Fukui City History Museum. Excavations that were conducted before building the museum found the gate ruins, waterways earthen embankments, stone walls and the remains of samurai residences.

Also be sure to check out the kokuin album. As one of the tenkabushin castles, you can find many unique kokuin (quarry marks) hidden in the walls.
 
Fukuyama Castle / 福山城

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Right next to the train station, Fukuyama Castle has become one of the must-see castles of Western Japan. While the main keep is a reconstruction, it is a very good reconstruction in terms of outside appearance. The museum inside is very engaging for castle and history fans alike. In recent years, they plated the north side of the keep with iron plates as it originally was and cleaned up the site by removing many of the trees that blocked your view of the yagura and main keep. The original Fushimi Yagura, Sujigane Gate, Bell Tower and reconstructed Inui yagura provide many photogenic angles combined with the multiple layers of well preserved stone walls. If you visit, plan some time to take great photos from the shinkansen platform windows too! For the castle fan that wants to add a little extra to the trip, there are a few places around town with the remains of stone walls and there is even a gate from a former samurai residence. You can check out these extras with a map in the album Castle Town.
 
Tomo Castle / 鞆城

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I was not expecting much from this castle but the remaining stone walls and all the kokuin are worth the (30 min) bus ride from Fukuyama along with the other castle related sites in the town. The main stone walls around the top of the hill near the entrance to the Tomo City Museum are mostly reconstructed with stone from the original walls. There are a couple side trails around the mountaintop where you can catch glimpses of other stone wall ruins buried in the woods and weeds that seem to be more original. Tomonoura is well known as one of those great scenic places that people love to flock to, but having visited probably hundreds of such little historical towns and streets in Japan I was fairly underwhelmed by Tomonoura's "Edo Period atmosphere" or the beautiful (?) port. That being said, it was certainly worth the trip for the castle related sites. The main purpose in visiting Tomonoura was to find the relocated nagayamon gate from Fukuyama Castle and the traveling Noh Stage from Fushimi Castle. Check the links for albums about these structures under their respective castles.
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