Ichijodani Castle

From Jcastle.info

Ichijodani-shimokido7.jpg

History

See Ichijodani: A Sengoku Period Castle Town for a detailed history and guide to Ichijodani.

Asakura Takakage established his family home and castle at Ichijodani in 1471. During the Onin War, many elite and educated people escaped to Ichijodani making it the cultural center of the Echizen Province. The fifth Asakura lord, Yoshikage sided with the Ashikaga against Nobunaga. Nobunaga attacked and burned Ichijodani in 1573. The castle deftly makes use of the long thin valley between two mountains. At both ends of the valley were narrow openings with strong gates that opened up into a flourishing castle town.


Visit Notes

I've split the Ichijodani valley into 3 different fortifications depending on type and features. To get a full understanding of this magnificent site, I suggest you to read the feature article Ichijodani: A Sengoku Period Castle Town that covers everything and then dig into each of these for more details as interested.

  • Asakura Yakata - is the palace of the Asakura. It is well fortified as a castle in its own right. This page includes sub albums for the area of residences by high ranking vassals and family members connected to the palace.
  • Ichijodani Castle - is the fortified town with small forts at each end and a ring of watchtowers around the town. This page includes the restored castle town and all the uncovered ruins.
  • Ichijodaniyama Castle - is the vast mountaintop castle that is fortified for a major siege. It is probably too high to practically guard the town or palace (you can barely see them) which gives rise to the need for the additional fortifications.
  • Komihanachi Castle - is a sub castle nearer the base of the mountain that guards the main road into the mountaintop castle.
  • Kojo Castle is another sub castle that guards the route to the mountaintop from the Asakura Yakata.

Both the train to Ichijodani Sta. and the bus from Fukui Sta. only have 6 and 8 trips leaving Fukui Sta. respectively each day. There are also some travel agent sponsored bus tours and taxi tours leaving Fukui Sta. on weekends, holidays and busy periods such as during the fall colors and cherry blossoms seasons. For details about the best route for you, consult with the tourist information desk (830am-7pm daily) at Fukui Sta. They also have some combination tickets and discounts (at the time of this writing in 2023). It is just outside the station on the castle side. They are very helpful and can offer nice maps and brochures to plan your visit before you get there. Once you reach Ichijodani, there is a free tourist bus on weekends and holidays that loops through the main sites starting from the Asakura Museum. You can also rent bicycles from the museum and there is a taxi stand from which you can call for a taxi, but Ichijodani is very doable on foot too. It is about 1km to the Shimokido and the entire valley is about 2km long between the Shimokido and Kamikido.

In writing the profiles and feature article, I replaced photos originally contributed by RaymondW. First I noticed that they've cut back a lot more trees around the ruins. Also, I noticed that some stone walls around the Naka-no-goten and stone foundations in the town seem to have crumbled in the intervening years. I sincerely hope that now that the museum is complete they make sure to preserve these ruins well. Trees can be particularly difficult to manage. They prevent erosion in many cases but roots break up stoneworks too.


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Gallery
  • Shimokido
  • Shimokido
  • Kamikido
  • Kamikido
  • Uedono Area
  • Uedono Area
  • Raised stone road


More Galleries and Feature Pages

Ichijodani-shimokido7.jpg

Shimokido

(7 photos)

Ichijodani-kamikido3.jpg

Kamikido

(5 photos)

Ichijodani-tsukimi4.jpg

Tsukimi Yagura

(5 photos)

Ichijodani-fukugentown38.jpg

Restored Town

(40 photos)

Ichijodani-town29.jpg

Castle Town Ruins

(58 photos)

Castle Profile
English Name Ichijodani Castle
Japanese Name 一乗谷城
Founder Asakura Takakage
Year Founded 1471
Castle Type Mountaintop
Castle Condition No main keep but other buildings
Designations Top 100 Castles, Top 100 Mountaintop Castles, National Historic Site, Special Historic Site
Historical Period Pre Edo Period
Features gates, samurai homes, water moats, trenches, stone walls, walls, castle town
Visitor Information
Access Fukui Sta. (Hokuriku Line), 25min bus; or, Ichijodani Sta (Etsumihoku Line), walk
Visitor Information Museums are open 9am-5pm; closed 12/28-1/4; museum is 100yen admission, reconstructed town is 210yen
Time Required 240 mins
Website https://fuku-iro.jp/feature/11
Location Fukui, Fukui Prefecture
Coordinates 36° 0' 32.54" N, 136° 18' 2.45" E
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Admin
Added to Jcastle 2013
Contributor Eric
Admin Year Visited 2023
Admin Visits May 1-2, 2023
Friends of JCastle
Kojodan
Shirobito


3.38
(8 votes)
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avatar

RaymondWDaimyo

6 months ago
Score 1++
It looks like Eric is a trendsetter when it comes to Ichijodani. He added this detailed article about Ichijodani to JCastle a few weeks ago. It seems like others are already following in his footsteps. Just this week, a group from the Gifu Castle Research Society visited the Ichijodani Mountaintop Castle. Also, Nakai Hitoshi is going to give a talk about Ichijodani next Wednesday (4th October) at the Ichijodani Asakura Family Museum.
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ARTShogun

6 months ago
Score 1++
Yes, Chris shared the pics of their expedition with us. Seems like there was a bear encounter. People going alone should take precautions.
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Matthew WardGunshi

7 months ago
Score 1++
I'll give this a 5. Not necessarily a 5 as a castle per se, but as a historical site, it's totally unique and beautifully restored. Really, there is nothing else quite like it in Japan.
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ARTShogun

7 months ago
Score 1++
This is now one of the top profiles on the site. Great work! Guess I'm going back here.
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DiegoDeManilaAshigaru

17 months ago
Score 1++

Visited 12th November 2022. I won’t dwell on the valley site proper (including the reconstructed townscape) as there’s nothing to add in that regard, except of course to say that it was all well worth visiting. I’d like to focus a bit on the brand-new 「一乗谷朝倉氏遺跡博物館」 just a short walk from JR Ichijōdani Station. They’ve just opened a month ago (1st October 2022 to be precise) and it’s a real treat to see so many excavated artefacts from the valley assembled in one place, along with supporting exhibits such as a meticulous scale model of one section of the former Asakura capital. Part of the museum also sits on an actual excavation site; walkways around the pit allow visitors to view the remains up close. But the real highlight is a 1:1 (life-sized) partial reconstruction of the Asakura lords’ palatial fortified mansion, including a large reception room and even a replica of the famous rock garden.

Combination tickets covering the museum and the reconstructed neighbourhood up in the valley are available (with an optional add-on for any ongoing special exhibition). A useful new feature is the free shuttle minibus that takes visitors between the museum and the parking lot next to the rebuilt townscape. Regrettably, the railway station is as infrequently served by JR as ever!

I haven’t done a proper blog post on this (I’m still currently travelling in Japan and won’t have time for that until I go home next month), but here are two Instagram posts I’ve put up about the museum. The first link shows the museum as a whole, the second shows the reconstructed palace inside the museum building.

https://www....YmMyMTA2M2Y=

https://www....YmMyMTA2M2Y=
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ARTShogun

17 months ago
Score 0++
Had no idea. Thanks for the report!
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ARTShogun

73 months ago
Score 1++
There is so much to see in the valley that I still didn't have time to climb to the yamajiro after half a day. There are many stone-lined terraces stretching up both valley walls, with the east side terraces being many tiered and climbing steeply. A portion of the old medieval town has been reconstructed, providing for an unobstructed historical streetscape. The Asakura Mansion set against the mountain is surrounded on three sides by a 3m deep mizubori (water moat), and 8m wide dorui (earthen ramparts), accessed through a karamon (gabled gate), built for a temple in the Edo Period (formerly there would have stood there the shōmon or go'mon). Several gardens of former mansions on the hillside have been restored. Many ruins of bukeyashiki (samurai homes) are designated. The area itself has many old rural homes and a nature-rich setting. The valley is divided at the bottom and top by huge gate ruins: the lower gate ruin has cyclopean masonry like I have not seen at other castle sites. These defences are referred to as Kido, meaning "door to the castle".
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FurinkazanDaimyo

84 months ago
Score 0++

This morning i took the Thunderbird from Kanazawa to Fukui. There i took the Wanman to Ichijôdani. I first visited the Asakura ruins museum. You can buy a combination ticket for the reconstructed street and this museum for 230¥. I then followed the route indicated on the map in front of the museum. I recommend this, because you'll pass a lot of interesting places. The route brings you to the reconstructed street. The homes are very interesting. I was stunned by the number of wells all over the place. All homes had 1 or 2 of them, even inside. There were canals bringing water everywhere. I went to the Kamikido or entrance defence in the south of the valley. From there i visited the ruins of the several yakata and the Karamon. But i didn’t find a trail to go to the top of the mountain. I went back to the entrance of the reconstructed street and asked how i could get on the top. The lady told me to go to the Hachiman shrine and follow the trail next to it. She asked if i had a 'kumazukuri'(bear repellent or bell). I had seen several warning signs about the bears, but i told her i didn’t had a repellent. She told me to yell at the bear in the event of an encounter. I went to the Hachiman shrine and at its foot is a sign indicating the trail to the mountain top. It's a 1.5km trail. First follow the road, going right of the shrine. Some meters farther you'll see a sign indicating the trail to the left. It's a very small trail and not always easy. I had put my good walking shoes, and i was happy to have done so. I went to the San no maru ato, but the trail goes further. A sign at the san no maru ruin indicates it's the end of the yamashiro. It took me 1 hour to get there and I'm happy to have done it. Do not expect a lot there. Apart of the trail, everything is overgrown. There are only boards telling you where you are and indicating the other locations. After that i went back to the station and i had the train of 15h46. Plan carefully, because like stated in the notes, there aren't a lot of trains passing at this station.

I highly recommend to visit this site, but because of the state of the castle i give it only 2 stars.
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SuupaahiirooAshigaru

85 months ago
Score 0++
Amazingly rich historical site and highly recommended. Personal highlight for me were the gardens that are virtually intact. It makes sense that even Nobunaga's wrath isn't going to do much to an arrangement of large rocks, but still it was a very nice surprise to me. The three gardens around the area are even designated as a Special Place of Scenic Beauty (特別名勝), the highest possible honour for a garden.