See Ichijodani: A Sengoku Period Castle Town for a detailed history and guide to Ichijodani.
Asakura Takakage established his family home and castle at Ichijodani in 1471. During the Onin War, many elite and educated people escaped to Ichijodani making it the cultural center of the Echizen Province. The fifth Asakura lord, Yoshikage sided with the Ashikaga against Nobunaga. Nobunaga attacked and burned Ichijodani in 1573. The castle deftly makes use of the long thin valley between two mountains. At both ends of the valley were narrow openings with strong gates that opened up into a flourishing castle town.
I've split the Ichijodani valley into 3 different fortifications depending on type and features. To get a full understanding of this magnificent site, I suggest you to read the feature article Ichijodani: A Sengoku Period Castle Town that covers everything and then dig into each of these for more details as interested.
- Asakura Yakata - is the palace of the Asakura. It is well fortified as a castle in its own right. This page includes sub albums for the area of residences by high ranking vassals and family members connected to the palace.
- Ichijodani Castle - is the fortified town with small forts at each end and a ring of watchtowers around the town. This page includes the restored castle town and all the uncovered ruins.
- Ichijodaniyama Castle - is the vast mountaintop castle that is fortified for a major siege. It is probably too high to practically guard the town or palace (you can barely see them) which gives rise to the need for the additional fortifications.
- Komihanachi Castle - is a sub castle nearer the base of the mountain that guards the main road into the mountaintop castle.
- Kojo Castle is another sub castle that guards the route to the mountaintop from the Asakura Yakata.
Both the train to Ichijodani Sta. and the bus from Fukui Sta. only have 6 and 8 trips leaving Fukui Sta. respectively each day. There are also some travel agent sponsored bus tours and taxi tours leaving Fukui Sta. on weekends, holidays and busy periods such as during the fall colors and cherry blossoms seasons. For details about the best route for you, consult with the tourist information desk (830am-7pm daily) at Fukui Sta. They also have some combination tickets and discounts (at the time of this writing in 2023). It is just outside the station on the castle side. They are very helpful and can offer nice maps and brochures to plan your visit before you get there. Once you reach Ichijodani, there is a free tourist bus on weekends and holidays that loops through the main sites starting from the Asakura Museum. You can also rent bicycles from the museum and there is a taxi stand from which you can call for a taxi, but Ichijodani is very doable on foot too. It is about 1km to the Shimokido and the entire valley is about 2km long between the Shimokido and Kamikido.
In writing the profiles and feature article, I replaced photos originally contributed by RaymondW. First I noticed that they've cut back a lot more trees around the ruins. Also, I noticed that some stone walls around the Naka-no-goten and stone foundations in the town seem to have crumbled in the intervening years. I sincerely hope that now that the museum is complete they make sure to preserve these ruins well. Trees can be particularly difficult to manage. They prevent erosion in many cases but roots break up stoneworks too.
|English Name||Ichijodani Castle|
|Castle Condition||No main keep but other buildings|
|Designations||Top 100 Castles, Top 100 Mountaintop Castles, National Historic Site, Special Historic Site|
|Historical Period||Pre Edo Period|
|Features||gates, samurai homes, water moats, trenches, stone walls, walls, castle town|
|Access||Fukui Sta. (Hokuriku Line), 25min bus; or, Ichijodani Sta (Etsumihoku Line), walk|
|Visitor Information||Museums are open 9am-5pm; closed 12/28-1/4; museum is 100yen admission, reconstructed town is 210yen|
|Time Required||240 mins|
|Location||Fukui, Fukui Prefecture|
|Coordinates||35° 59' 58.16" N, 136° 17' 44.02" E|
|Added to Jcastle||2013|
|Admin Year Visited||2023|
|Admin Visits||May 1-2, 2023|
|Friends of JCastle|