Fukuchiyama-jo Castle (福知山城)

Fukuchiyama-jo Castle is a hirayamajiro (flatland-mountain castle) located in Fukuchiyama City in Kyoto Prefecture.


This was a residential castle built to govern the Fukuchiyama Domain in the Edo period.

It was originally a kakiage type castle (a simple and small castle on a stamped mound of soil and rocks) called Yokoyama-jo Castle built by Yorikatsu SHIOMI who is said to have been a descendant of Nagakiyo OGASAWARA of the late Muromachi period. Mitsuhide AKECHI, after conquring Tanba Province, changed its name to Fukuchiyama-jo Castle (福智山城), and embarked on major renovations to turn it into a new structure of the time (its castellan was Gonbee FUJIKI and later, Hidemitsu AKECHI). Later in the Edo period, its castellan of the Kutsuki clan changed the Chinese character of its name from '福智山' (Fukuchiyama) to '福知山' (Fukuchiyama).

Its Tenshu (donjon) was restored in 1985 and is now a facility of Fukuchiyama City Folk Museum in Fukuchiyamajo-koen Park which used be the castle compound. At the side of the entrance of the park stands Fukuchiyama City Sato Taisei Memorial Art Museum whose structure is of Sumiyagura (turret) Style Castle Architecture.

It is also called "Garyu-jo Castle" (lying dragon castle), because it is on a hill protruding from Fukuchiyama basin overlooking the surrounding urban area, and the hill looks like a lying dragon. Its Tenshu can be seen from both National Route 9 and the JR Fukuchiyama Line, and is illuminated at night as a symbol of the city. Many cherry trees around the castle are magnificent when in full bloom in spring.

Its Kuruwa (the walls of the castle and the regions surrounded by them) lies from the tip of the hill, which protrudes from Fukuchiyama basin, to the Honmaru (the core of the castle) linking the Ninomaru (second bailey), Hokimaru (third bailey), and Naikimaru (fourth bailey) forming a Renkaku style (連郭式) serial Kuruwa. The Honmaru and Ninomaru had a palace, and as the Ninomaru was largest at the center of the castle it was probably the central facility. In the Horinouchi (inside the moat) where the land on both sides is flat, there was a meeting terrace and samurai houses to the north where Ote-mon Gate (main gate) was, and to the south, Kura (storehouses), Umaya (horse stables), Takabeya (falcon house), and a garden. Also there were Nagaya (long houses) for Hirazamurai (lower-ranked samurai) on a terrace beyond the Naikimaru. Carved out pathways after it was abandoned and railroad construction have divided the hill on which the castle structures used to be, and only the walls of the Honmaru remain today. The pathway to climb the present donjon was built later to access Asahi-jinja Shrine which was transferred to the Honmaru, and the original main street was connected with the Ninomaru which is now a residential area.

Ano shu (groups of stone wall technicians) built its stone wall by Nozura-zumi (an old method of building robust stone walls), and this is a Cultural Property designated by Fukuchiyama City. Nobunaga ODA and his retainers commonly used gravestones and stone Buddhist images to build walls, but the large number of those stones found in the walls of this castle is outstanding, only matched by Koriyama-jo Castle. The reason for this is not known, but there are some suggested explanations such as that it was due to a shortage of time or materials, or that it was to show off the builders' power to other war lords.

The well called 'Toyonoiwai' in the Honmaru is Japan's deepest well inside a castle (50 meters deep, and reaching below sea level).

The restored Tenshu (donjon or keep) is of Boro type (with the top tower keep placed on the main structure) of the era of Nobunaga with a Dai-tenshu (large keep of three roofs and four stories), Tsuzuki-yagura (linking turrets), and connected Sho-tenshu (small keep). Its exterior looks like its original appearance but the structure is of ferroconcrete.


The stone walls of the Honmaru and the well remain today, but the walls of the Ninomaru and other outer structures are lost due to land development.

As extant architecture, there remains the Bansho (guard station) at the side of Akagane-mon Gate (Tamonyagura, or hall turrets) which has been transferred to the Honmaru from the Ninomaru. Each of the castle gates was transferred in order to build each San-mon Gate (main gate of a Buddhist Temple) of Kanryu-ji Temple, Shogen-ji Temple, Hosho-ji Temple, Myokaku-ji Temple, and Zuirin-ji Temple, and they remain today.

Fukuchiyama-jo Castle and Fukuchiyama Ondo (Fukuchiyama folk tune)
Fukuchiyama Ondo, established during the Edo period, is a Bon Festival Dance with a unique phrase 'Dokkoi-see, Dokkoi-see.'
Legend has it that this comes from the construction work of the castle during which workers rhythmically called out like this when carrying stones.


15 minutes on foot from Fukuchiyama Station on the JR Fukuchiyama Line, JR Sanin Main Line, and Kitakinki Tango Railway

Tourist Information around the Castle

Akechiyabu (dike): this dike bent the stream of the Yura-gawa River to prevent frequent floods and for the development of trade by water transportation.

Goryo-jinja Shrine: it enshrines Mitsuhide. It stores letters written by Mitsuhide such as 'Akechi Mitsuhide Kachu Gunpo' (Mitsuhide AKECHI Family's Military Law).

Sato Taisei Memorial Art Museum (Fukuchiyama City Art Museum): it stands in Fukuchiyamajo-koen Park and is modeled after the castle.

The Matsumuras' house(松村家住宅) (Cultural Property designated by Kyoto Prefecture)
Tanba Traditional Yarn-Dyed Fabric Museum(丹波生活衣館)
Fukuchiyama City Hall
Fukuchiyama Municipal Budokan (gymnasium for martial arts)

[Original Japanese]