Ichijodani and Jcastle.info Updates

From Jcastle.info

Ichijodani and Jcastle.info Updates


Happy New Year!

I posted a few things to Facebook recently and then received a couple offline comments like "Welcome Back" or asking if I was taking a break from castles. First, the answer to the latter is "No!" I have just been extremely busy since summer so it's been hard to get much new stuff out. I actually updated these Ichijodani Castle related profiles in August during summer vacation and was waiting to do some other Fukui updates before putting up a news story like this, but I just haven't had time yet. So, formally, here are the new Ichijodani profiles. The article about the Ichijodani Valley goes into great detail of the history of the valley, why it is important and key points to look out for when visiting. I highly recommend you to start here and then go into the individual castle albums for more details.

Ichijodani Castle Town

Throughout the Fall, I have done some castle day trips and focused on visiting new sites during the good castling season rather than update the website. Hopefully, a few things will calm down in the New Year and I can start chipping away at the list of about 40 profiles I need to add or update. I have 7 ready to go and another 33 sets of castle photos to sort. I think I need an intern or assistant! I'm slowly working through 3-4 pockets of castles around Kansai and I plan to update this site in groups of castles around a theme when ready.

As always, as soon as I get a set of photos selected and organized for a castle I'll post them to Facebook before updating the profile on this site, so please Like or Follow the Facebook page for more regular updates of castle visits and some occasional castle related news.

I'm also working through a little challenge with this website. My host nearly shut me down for being way over the storage limits last November. I deleted some old versions and backup files and just trimmed everything down to the barebones required to run this site. I still have some more work to do, but in the future, I will limit image sizes to 1080px wide (same as FB and IG). I also want to figure out a way to retroactively reduce image dimensions if possible. If there are any great MediaWiki or Unix/ImageMagick users out there who want to help, please let me know!

The reality of hosting a website this massive is that it is not cheap and getting more expensive all the time. I paid under $10 USD/month for almost 20 years, now $15/month as costs increase everywhere. This was an acceptable subscription fee to share my passion with others and to meet the great contributors and castle fans from around the world. But, the site has outgrown hobbyist website plans and will start costing me $30/month from January (excl. domain name fees). If it grows at the current pace, I've been cautioned that in another 18 months I may reach the $60/month plan which is definitely too much for my pocketbook. That's a lot of castle trips I could go on or castle books I could buy! There may be cheaper plans out there, but I've been badly burned by them before.

I do this for the love of the topic and to meet and engage with other castle explorers out there. When I started this site 25yrs ago, there were few resources, even in Japanese, and none in English. Quality English information is still hard to come by. The massive amount of photos and profiles and other articles we've collected in this online encyclopedia, this Jcastlepedia, is truly amazing and one-of-a-kind even in Japanese. If you'd like to help keep it afloat, please consider supporting the site. I may also look into other support options such as non-intrusive advertising (does this exist?), affiliate links, etc to try and make the site a little more self-supporting.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com


Asakura Yakata / 朝倉館


Parts of the Asakura Palace have been modeled in scale size at the Asakura Museum. There is a separate album below for those pictures.
Ichijodani Castle / 一乗谷城


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.
Ichijodani Kojo Castle / 小城


The photo above shows only the lowest bailey of the castle. It is the small portion just beyond the two mountains streams that converge into a small valley. The majority of the remains go straight up to the left along the steep slope. There should be a couple big trenches. I was not able to find a safe route across this valley nor up the slippery slopes that made it somewhat dangerous to try to get any closer than this distant photo. This little Bailey wouldn't be that interesting anyway, the better part would have been the horikiri above. In fact, I don't even see anyone else online who has successfully traversed up the hillside to the trenches either. If you see any good guides, routes, or photos, please share. I think there may be an alternate way to try to get at it from above too but it will require some more exploration one day when I have more time, or I'll just wait until it is better documented somewhere.
Ichijodaniyama Castle / 一乗谷山城


There are three trails to the top of the mountain. The most convenient ones for visitors by foot are probably the Umadashi Trail that starts on the north end of the castle near the Hachiman Shrine and the other is from behind the Asakura Yakata starting from near the Eirinzuka. With an elevation gain of 440m (according to my GPS) all the way to the highest point, this is one of the higher climbs I've done to get to a castle.

I'm not sure if it was from the recent rains or if this area, famous for its natural springs, is always like this, but the trail was very wet, muddy and slippery the whole way. Near the top I passed a middle-aged couple who looked like they had just stepped off the golf course in their Sunday drive outfits, covered in mud from feet to knees and hands to elbows. No hiking boots or trekking poles. They had started about 30 minutes before me, but were in good spirits when we found out it was almost the summit.

It's a good steep climb but the trails are well maintained and easy to follow with plenty of signs. I still recommend good hiking shoes and a trekking pole. There are also signs warning of bears so a bear bell is also recommended. This last point of advice was also strongly reiterated to me when I rented my bicycle and said my first destination was the mountain castle.
Komihanachi Castle / 小見放城


The sign for this castle is along the Umadashi Trail to the Ichijodaniyama Castle but it is a bit confusing. This is not actually the site of the castle. It is up and to the right of the trail. You will need to guess bit and go up into the woods to find the big trenches. Besides a couple big trenches there is not much to see here and I could not get down to the lower bailey. It was too slippery and weedy. Supposedly there are some foundation stones for a guard house in a long and narrow crescent shaped bailey. You may sometimes see this mistakenly called Komihanare-jo in romaji. That is the reading that makes sense, but it is actually Komihanachi-jo.
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