Monday, March 10, 2014

Fukuoka Castle -Huge castle looking down on commercial city-

Fukuoka Castle

-Huge castle looking down on commercial city-



Name: Fukuoka castle (Fukuoka-jo)
Alias: Maizuru-jo (Flying crane castle)
Place: Jonai, Chuo-ku Fukuoka city, Fukuoka
Location: 33.58558594514408, 130.38422453807138
Type: Hill castle
Built: 1601
Remaining remnants: Turrets, gates, stone walls, clay walls and moats
Title: 100 famous Japanese castles

Brief History

Fukuoka castle (福岡城) is located on the hill at Fukuoka area, the west half part of Fukuoka city. Fukuoka castle was built a residence of Kuroda clan, a lord of Fukuoka domain, to manage Hakata city, an important commercial city of western Japan.

History of Hakata city

Fukuoka City, originally named as Hakata city, had been a entrance of Japan from East asian countries, and prosperous city by foreign trade. In ancient era there was a local instrument named Dazaifu in this area, worked as a branch of capital city and managed foreign communications and defense. From 11th century along with the economic development of China, foreign trade between Japan and China became active, and in 1161, current ruler Kiyomori Taira (1116-1181) opened a large port on there.

In spite of damages occurred during Genko (Attack to Japan by China (Mongolian Yuen dynasty) and Korea (Koryo dynasty) to Japan) in 13th century or internal battle in Nanbokucho era, Hakata kept growing through the official and private trade with China, and in 16th century with the evolution of navigation technique, the opponent of trade expanded to South Asian country, such as Siam or Luson.

Struggle for wealthy city

No need to say, but each warlord hoped to keep Hakata city. In 15th century Hakata city was seized by Shoni clan, but in line with the fall of Shoni clan, Ouchi clan, the warlord of Nagato province (western part of  Yamaguchi prefecture) possessed Hakata city, and became prosperous based on the wealth gained from private trades. 

After the fall of Ouchi clan in 1551 at the incident of Daineiji, next Yoshishige Otomo (1530-1587) at Buzen province (Oita prefecture) and Motonari Mouri (1497-1571) of Aki province (Hiroshima prefecture) struggled for this city over 10 years. Moronari who was excellent at plot urged generals of Otomo clan such as Akitane Takahashi (?-1579) or Akitoshi Tachibana (?-1568) who protected Hakata city to rebel to Otomo clan. But Yoshishige sent his brave general Akitsura Bekki (1513-1585) and ruined these rebels, then rejected Mouri army at the battle of Tatarahama in 1569 and captured this city.

Brave generals of Otomo clan

Yoshishige let Akitsura to succeed Tachibana clan and placed him at Tachibanayama castle, a large mountain castle at eastern superb of current Fukuoka city. Akitsura renamed to Dosetsu Tachibana and became the regional commander of Otomo clan at north part of Kyushu island. 

Dosetsu was an excellent general praised as an incarnation of thunder, fought at many places and beat many enemies for Otomo clan. Otomo clan itself started to fall after the battle of Mimikawa in 1578 against Shimazu clan, but Dosetsu cooperated with his colleague Joun Takahashi (1548-1588) and well kept their territory against strong enemies such as Shimazu clan or Ryuzoji clan. 

In 1585, Dosetsu finally died in ill, and next year Shimazu which already dominated Ryuzoji clan made total attack to Otomo clan. Jyoun Takahashi who protected Iwaya castle well fought against dominant Shimazu army but shared his fate with the castle. Shimazu army intruded into Hakata city totally burnt down it, but Muneshige Tachibana (1567-1643), son of Jyoun but adopted by Dosetsu, firmly besieged at Tachibanayama castle and waited for arrival of the army of central ruler Hideyoshi Toyotomi (1537-1598).

Direct controlled city of Hideyoshi

Next year, overwhelming main force of Hideyoshi landed to Kyushu island. Shimazu army retreated from north part of Kyushu island, and Muneshige promptly chased them and recaptured deprived Iwaya castle and Homan castle. Hideyoshi broke Shimazu army at the battle of Nejirozaka, and finally Shimazu clan gave up resistance and surrendered to Hideyoshi. Hideyoshi placed Muneshige Tachibana as the lord of Yanagawa castle, and reconstructed Hakata city as a direct controlled city.

Hideyoshi appointed Takakage Kobayakawa (1533-1597) as a magistrate of Hakata city. Takakage was an important general of Mouri clan at Niitakayama castle (Hiroshima prefecture), but was also trusted by Hideyoshi. Takakage at first stayed at  at the eastern suburb of current Fukuoka city, but later built Najima castle (Fukuoka City) at convenient place near the coast and moved to there.

Build of Fukuoka castle

After the battle of Sekigahara between Ieyasu Tokugawa and former Toyotomi supporting group at 1600, Nagamasa Kuroda (1568-1623) was appointed as a lord of Chikuzen province including Hakata city by Edo shogunate, and moved from Nakatsu castle (Oita prefecture). 

Nagamasa was the eldest son of Yoshitaka Kuroda (1546-1604, famous as Kanbe Kuroda), a famous military staff of Hideyoshi. Nagamasa was not only a brave general but also had a skill of negotiation inherited from his father, and recruited many lords to Ieyasu side.

Nagamasa planned to build a castle deserves large territory and prosperous city, but there was only little room of expansion for Najima castle, because it located too close to seashore. Thus Nagamasa chose a hill located on the west of the city, and started to built a huge castle in 1601. The castle completed in 1607, and Nagamasa named this castle as Fukuoka castle. Fukuoka castle was a magnificent castle with 47 turret, but main tower was not built considering reputation to Edo shogunate.

Although there was a serious internal conflict named Kuroda Sodo “Kuroda family quarrel” in 1632, Kuroda clan kept his house by the end of Edo era and managed this castle. After Meiji revolution many building were lost, and the site of the castle is used for a park, government offices, field tracks and so on.


20 minutes walk from Fukuoka City Subway Kuko-line Akasaka station or Ohori-Koen station. 15 minutes drive from Nishi-Koen interchange of Fukuoka City Highway Kanjosen line.

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Pictures (click to enlarge)

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