Fukuchiyama is the largest city in north Kansai, but not so many people know this city was once governed by the infamous samurai and assassin of Oda Nobunaga, Akechi Mitsuhide.
However, visiting Fukuchiyama Castle, one can understand how beloved he was by the people in Fukuchiyama.
The History of Fukuchiyama Castle
Fukuchiyama Castle was once a small castle that went by the name Yokoyama Castle, built by Yokoyama clan (obviously). However, after Akechi Mitshuhide conquered northern Kyoto (then Tamba) in 1579, he claimed the castle and began remodeling it.
Later, after Mitsuhide assassinated Oda Nobunaga, he was in turn killed by Toyotomi Hideyoshi. After Mitsuhide died, Hideyoshi’s subordinate, Arima, came to Fukuchiyama and made it a castle town, laying the foundation for Fukuchiyama to become a major city.
Finally, the Kutsuki clan took control of Fukuchiyama Castle for thirteen generations, right up to the end of the Edo Period.
Walking to Fukuchiyama Castle
The closest station to Fukuchiyama Castle is JR Fukuchiyama Station. It takes roughly an hour and thirty minutes from Osaka or Kyoto.
It is only 20 minutes away from the station, but if you have time, it would be nice to explore the city and drop by Goryo Shrine, which enshrines Akechi Mitsuhide.
While it is hard to see the pretty pictures of the entire castle as it stands on the hill, from Hokimaru Park near the city office, you can get a magnificent view of the entire castle.
Fukuchiyama Castle may not be very big, but it is one of the most iconic castles in the northern Kansai region.
As Fukuchiyama Castle stands on a hill, the long slope leads all the way to the keep once you enter the castle grounds. Most of the castle was demolished a long time ago, meaning that sadly, there are no longer any large gates or turrets standing.
On the way to the castle’s keep, you can see the many flags bearing a bellflower crest. This crest is none other than the family crest of Akechi Mitsuhide.
Fukuchiyama Castle is not a huge one, it takes only ten minutes to the main keep.
Although almost all things including the main keep were demolished in 1871, the castle’s stone walls are still intact even today. These clearly paint a picture of what the castle was like a long time ago.
One of the interesting features of the stone walls in this castle is that they used many stones from graves and Buddhist pagodas. Those are called tenyoseki, and people used them because sometimes they had to make a castle quickly or they just couldn’t find enough stones. They can be found in many other castles, but Fukuchiyama Castle has a lot of them.
So finally it is the keep!
Right in front of the keep is a small square and we could see the keep really well. As we approached the castle, we realized the keep was a bit smaller than we imagined. (Though to be honest it is probably roughly the same as Hikone Castle).
The keep of Fukuchiyama Castle has two buildings, Daitenshu and Shotenshu, combined together.
I thought it is made of wood but actually, it was actually concrete since the castle was rebuilt in 1986.
Since there are no pictures of Fukuchyama Castle left, there is no telling what it originally looked like. It is very possible that the design of the current keep is quite different from what it was during the Edo Period.
The keep is more like a museum where you can get a magnificent view of Fukuchiyama City.
While The castle city of Fukuchiyama was founded in the Edo Period, it is because of Akechi Mitsuhide that Fukuchiyama prospered and could become a large city. Even today while many cities in northern Kansai are small, Fukuchiyama is still thriving.