Fukui Castle was built in 1606 by Yuki Hideyasu, who was the lord of the Echizen Fukui domain. Until 1871 the castle was used mostly by the Echizen Matsudaira family, who were the lords of that same domain. Sadly the castle tower was destroyed by fire in 1669.
You might be surprised to find out that the Fukui prefectural government building, the prefectural police headquarters, and the prefectural assembly hall are all within the site of the Fukui Castle Ruins.
The ruins are one of the best-known sightseeing spots in Fukui. You can walk there in about 10 minutes from JR Fukui Station. The statue of Okakura Tenshin, Fukui Shrine, and Yokokan Garden are near the ruins, and you can see them all at once.
There are a lot of features within the Fukui Castle Ruins that are great for sightseers:
- The statue of Yuki Hideyasu
- A viewing platform
- Some stone walls
- The castle tower ruins
- Orōkabashi Bridge
- Cherry blossom trees
You can get into the site for free 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Near the entrance of the ruins is the statue of Yuki Hideyasu, who built Fukui Castle. The figure in the statue is mounted on a horse and is wearing armor and holding a sword. Hideyasu was a top-rated Japanese military commander.
There are some steps behind the statue. If you go up the stairs you can look out over the Fukui Castle Ruins from a viewing platform atop the stone walls. There’s a moat around the castle in which some domestic carp and turtles live.
I’d like you to pay attention to the stone walls, which are the same as they were 400 years ago. Shakudani stone, which is Fukui’s specialty, was used in them, and these might be the only walls made of Shakudani stone in the world.
When you go deeper into the Fukui Castle Ruins you see the castle tower ruins. The castle tower was once one of the tallest castle buildings in the country and was the symbol of the castle. A castle tower was a military facility that also brought prestige to a castle site.
I recently went to a museum and took some pictures of a miniature model of Fukui Castle that’s exhibited there. You can see the castle tower in the model.
The castle tower was five stories high and about 40 meters tall (including the foundation). It was one of the tallest castle towers in Japan at that time. As I wrote earlier, it was destroyed in a fire in 1669. However, by using your imagination you might be able to see it as it was.
Near the ruins is Orōkabashi Bridge, which was restored in 2008. The bridge allowed lords to go into the castle.
The last must-see sight at the Fukui Castle Ruins is the cherry blossom trees. There are a lot of these, so in spring you can see lots of cherry blossoms. The ruins are one of the best-known spots in Fukui for viewing blossoms. I like this spot because seeing the cherry blossoms and the castle ruins together really gives me a sense of Japanese culture.
Once a year there’s a cherry blossom festival during which the blossoms are lit up after dark, so you can also view them at night.
There are a lot of sightseeing highlights within the Fukui Castle Ruins. Take a look at these while imaging Fukui Castle as it was 400 years ago.