Kokura Castle

From Jcastle.info


In 1600 after the Battle of Sekigahara, Hosokawa Tadaoki was rewarded the lands of Buzen and Bungo. The ruling castle of the area was really at Nakatsu Castle, but Hosokawa found Kokura to be a much more convenient place from which to rule. It is also located at the vital point in transportation between Kyushu and Honshu. He started building Kokura Castle in 1602 and completed it in 1608.

Hosokawa's Son, Tadatoshi, was moved to Kumamoto in 1632. Ogasawara Tadazane replaced him and 9 generations of his descendents ruled for the next 230 years. The main keep burned down in a fire in 1837 and was not rebuilt. The castle itself was intentionally burned down and abandoned in 1866 when the Ogasawara fled Kokura during the second Battle of Shochuseito.

The reconstructed castle you see today is borogata style with decorative gables called kara hafu and irimoya hafu, but the original main keep was a very simple sotogata and had no such gables.

Visit Notes

not personally visited

  • main keep
  • main keep
  • donjon
  • yagura
  • moat

Castle Profile
English Name Kokura Castle
Japanese Name 小倉城
Alternate Names Katsuyama-jo, Yuukin-jo
Founder Hosokawa Tadaoki
Year Founded 1608
Castle Type Flatland
Castle Condition Reconstructed main keep
Designations Next 100 Castles
Historical Period Edo Period
Main Keep Structure 4 levels, 5 stories
Year Reconstructed 1959 (concrete)
Features main keep, turrets, water moats, stone walls, walls
Visitor Information
Access Kokura Sta. (Kagoshima Line)
Visitor Information
Time Required
Website http://www.kid.ne.jp/kokurajou/html/k01.html
Location Kitakyushu, Fukuoka Prefecture
Coordinates 33° 53' 3.91" N, 130° 52' 27.34" E
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Added to Jcastle 2006
Admin Year Visited Viewer Contributed

(21 votes)
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10 months ago
Score 0++

Kokura Castle's main features are its survivng ishigaki (stone-piled ramparts), karabori (dry moats) and mizubori (water moats). It also has a pseudo-historical reconstructed donjon, built from concrete and serving as a museum, and other mock reconstructions. The castle ground's further contain a restored garden and villa used by the lords of the castle, and a traditionally constructed lighthouse (Meiji Period). Mock Reconstructions: The appearance of the tenshu at Kokurajō is not historically accurate; the museum building was erected in 1959 out of concrete, and, whilst it seems that the original form of the tenshu was well understood even then, it was decided that the new tenshu would be "beautified" with the addition of hafu (gables). This means that the tower does not even bear an outward resemblance to what existed historically in its place. Although unfortunate, this is more than enough justification in my opinion for it to be destroyed, perhaps with dynamite, and reconstructed out of historical materials. The historically accurate keep would look more appealing and suitable. The current tower, though not without its own charm, does look weirdly squat in my opinion. The tenshu of Kokurajō was built in the Karaźukuri (唐造) style. Karaźukuri, in this case, refers to the style wherein the uppermost tier is larger than the preceeding one. I have also heard the use of hoardings on Japanse castles referred to as Nanbanźukuri (Barbarian Style). There are reconstructed yagura. One of three-tiers is called the Nukagura (raw rice store), which I think is or was a restaurant. The others consist of a two-tier yagura connected by a corridor turret to the tenshu. Also located on the castle grounds is a built-up shrine complex made up of shrine buildings and what I would call "castle-inspired" structures. Although obviously not historically accurate I did find them quite interesting, representing to me a sort of nativist alternative to modern multistorey architecture. Opposite here, on the other hand, is a large shopping complex of (post-)modern structures which are offensive to behold. The much vaunted "blend" of historic and modern in Japan of which we hear so much about shows here its true vulgarity. The fact that these things were allowed to go up so close to the castle shows that Japan is still in the grip of the post-war philistines who haven't yet graduated onto a more than surface level appreciation of heritage and national culture. Europe is much more mature in this regard, at least in the aesthetic appreciation of historical townscapes and their protection in law and urban planning. History: It appears that some sort of fortified administrative center has existed on the site of Kokura Castle for some time, starting in the 13th century. In 1330 the Ôuchi took over the fort, later followed by the Kikuchi in 1442. During the Sengoku Period the castle was rebuilt by Mōri Katsunobu. After the Battle of Sekigahara ushered in the new Tokugawan regime, Hosokawa Tadaoki become lord of Kokurajō. He modernised the castle and it took on the form we see today - broadly speaking. A jōkamachi (castle town) developed around the castle. Hosokawa is credited as a capable administrator, developing a commercial and economic base for his domain, trading overseas, and instigating the local Gion festival. In 1632, Hosokawa Tadatoshi was transferred to Kumamoto. Coming from Akashijō, Ogasawara Tadazane became the new castellan and his descendants ruled over the territory until the abolition of the Han System. In 1798 Ogasawara Tadamitsu had the garden and Go'yūsho Villa constructed. The main keep was lost to fire in 1837. It was subsequently not rebuilt.

In 1866, the Chōshū Domain rebelled and clashed with the Tokugawa-bakufu. Kokurajō was allied with the Shogunate but during the conflict it became isolated and the Ogasawara were forced to flee from the castle after razing it themselves. The castle then became an Imperial Army base during the Meiji Period and Nogi Maresuke commanded the fourteenth regiment from here, particpating in the Southwest War against Saigo Takamori. After Japan's defeat in the Pacific War, Kokurajō was also used as a base by Allied Forces until 1957. In 1959 the main keep was reconstructed out of reinforced concrete, making it already sixty years old... time for a do-over?


10 months ago
Score 0++

Kokurajō Go'yūsho

The garden at Kokura Castle is a traditional daimyō-style garden centered upon the reconstructed shoin (drawing room) of the detatched palace called Go'yūsho (Place of Leisure), also referred to historically as the detached villa of the Ogasawara Clan. The villa was the heart of Ogasawara-ryū Reihō (School of Etiquette), cultivated by the Lords of Kokura Castle. The restored complex consists of tea rooms, a library, an exhibition hall, and the reconstructed shoin, the balcony of which hangs delicately over the garden pond. The layout of the garden dates to 1798, arranged by Lord Ogasawara Tadamitsu. All original structures were destroyed in the Chōshū War of 1866. The site was excavated and restored in the 1990s.


47 months ago
Score 0++
A major site. Some very curious castle-inspired structures can be found around here too. The keep is historically inaccurate but they inform visitors about this in the museum. The worst thing about this castle is its ugly, intrusive neighbours, great big ugly and garish buildings. One of them is an NHK building. They are in dire need of demolition.


71 months ago
Score 0++
A nice castle in a nice location! The shrine next to it is really cute and there are a lot of cats.


90 months ago
Score 0++
Visited 27 March 2015 (https://with...-march-2015/). I arrived after closing time so had to content myself with views from the outside, which - inaccurate reconstruction aside - weren't all that bad. Pencilling this in for another visit (hopefully with the museum and garden open next time), at which point I may reassess my initial 2-star rating.

Alek 31Ashigaru

97 months ago
Score 0++
I gave the castle 1 1/2 stars not because it disappointed me from the collection viewpoint or the state it was in; my bitter disappointment came from seeing its sad situation: a beautiful reminder if the past is now completely surrounded by tall, futuristic (sometimes ridiculous) buildings, the view from the top floor is sad and the state if the Japanese garden next to it made me want to cry. This is the ONLY castle where I didn't take scenery pictures at the top floor. That half star I allowed myself to offer was for the diorama on the 2nd floor (they say it's the largest if its kind in Japan and it has a 4 min. viewing) and the lovely tea serving at the garden, where they prepare the tea in front of you, but it's not as formal and nerve wrecking as an official tea ceremony.


127 months ago
Score 0++
Nothing to add to the comment of RaymondW, apart that i liked to stroll around in the streets of Kokura. There are alot of informationpanels on the streets with a map indicating where you are and the interesting spots surrounding the spot where you are. I arrived too early this morning and the infodesk at the station was still closed, but with the afore mentionned pannels you don't need any other map.


134 months ago
Score 0++
A little slow with writing a comment for Kokura Castle, but I went to this castle as part of my trip down to Kyushu in March earlier this year. Kokura Castle is around 10 minutes on foot from JR Kokura Station. The castle keep is a concrete reconstruction built in 1959. The original castle keep burnt down in a fire in 1837 and was never rebuilt. There is a lot of ishigaki left as well as the ruins of eight gates. Some of stone walls have been restored. There is a building that looks like a reconstructed sumi yagura (corner turret), but it is part of a temple complex now. Any remaining castle buildings were destroyed by the Ogasawara Clan after they lost the Second Battle of Choshuseito in 1866, setting the castle on fire before fleeing to Tagawa. Entry to the castle keep cost 350yen. This is a castle geared towards families as there are lots of hands-on stuff and videos for young kids to try out. There is also a nice diorama of the keep and surrounding castle town as well as a replica room from the Edo Period showing Ogasawara Tadazane meeting his high-ranking officers. For me, this is a solid 2.5 star site and worth a visit for any castle fan in Kitakyushu.