Translated by Greg
Kokura Castle, Fukuoka's Symbol - Access, Highlights and Events
Written by Mayu
Kokura Castle is located in Fukuoka prefecture's Kita-Kyushu city. Parts of the present-day structure were rebuilt in 1959, giving the castle an eye-catching design. Today we tell you all about the castle highlights along with access information.
About Kokura Castle
Kokura Castle is located in Japan's Kyushu Region, in Fukuoka prefecture's Kita-Kyushu city. From the Warring States period of the 16th century until the 18th century, the castle underwent a series of renovations, in which additions were made to it and other parts were rebuilt. The castle was later burnt down and up until the 19th century, the only remaining traces were its stone walls and moat. The present-day tenshu (*1), yagura (*2), Japanese garden and living quarters for the daimyo were all rebuilt in 1959.
Kokura Castle has an unusual keep, referred to as a karazukuri or nanbanzukuri-style keep. With most castles, when you go up from one floor to the next floor in the keep, the rooms get smaller. But the characteristic feature of this karazukuri keep is that the fifth floor is actually larger than the fourth floor.
With its unique architecture, Kokura Castle is highly regarded by many people. Today we'll give you an overview of the castle and also access information and some of its highlights.
*1 Tenshu: this is the fortified tower that comprises the tallest part of a Japanese castle. It's an important part of the castle and also serves as its symbol.
*2 Yagura: this was essentially a guard tower set atop a stone wall usually in the corner of the castle or in some other strategic location. They were used for different purposes such as storing weapons and food, and for keeping a watch on the castle gates.
Basic Information on Kokura Castle
Kokura Castle is open every day of the year, but its business hours depend on the season. Admission to the castle stops thirty minutes before closing time.
April to October: 9:00-18:00
November to March: 9:00-17:00
Admission is 350 yen for adults, 200 yen for junior and senior high school students, and 100 yen for elementary school students (all prices include tax).
Highlights of Kokura Castle
The Castle Keep
Though from the outside it looks like a four-story keep, it's actually five stories due to its four tiered five-story construction. Connected to the larger keep is a smaller one-floor keep. The top floor of the larger keep is actually larger than the floor directly below it, a feature of its karazukuri design. The contrast between the large, white facade and the black kawara tiles, makes for an impressive keep, one which the citizens of Kokura city are also highly proud of.
The Tsukimi Yagura
Kokura Castle's tsukimi yagura, or watchtower, was formerly used for monitoring and keeping an eye on the ships in the nearby ocean. This stately and dignified three-story structure really catches your eye. Nowadays, the building is used as shop (called Nukagura) that both produces and sells a local favorite called nukazuke (*3), which was loved by one of the castle lords, Tadazane Ogasawara.
*3 Nukazuke: these are a type of Japanese pickles made by fermenting vegetables in nukadoko, a mixure containing rice bran, salt, water and other ingredients.
Getting to Kokura Castle
Next we'll explain how to get from Hakata Station, known as the gateway to Fukuoka, to Kokura Castle. At Hakata Station, hop aboard a nozomi or kodama shinkansen (bullet train) headed for Tokyo or Osaka, and then get off when you arrive at Kokura Station. Travel time is about twenty minutes and the one-way fare is 2110 yen.
From Kokura Station to Kokura Castle it's just twenty minutes on foot. If you follow the Murasaki river on the way there, you can also enjoy the great scenery.
For all the details on how to get from Tokyo to Fukuoka, please refer to the following article, Ways to Travel From Tokyo To Fukuoka! A Thorough Comparison.
Read About Other Japanese Castles：
5 Famous Castles in Japan for Castle Lovers
Real Castles In The Sky! 5 Japanese Castles To Visit In Autumn
Himeji Castle - History, Scenic Highlights And Access
Iwakuni Castle, Yamaguchi - Superb Views From The Top
Seasonal Events at Kokura Castle
March to April: Kokura Castle Sakura Cherry Blossom Festival
Various events including outdoor concerts are held at Kokura Castle's castle tower square. On the day of the festival, yatai (food stalls) line the area and sell local favorites such as Kokura's own original yakiudon (Japanese). On festival days, the square is open until 10 pm, allowing visitors to enjoy the night view of the cherry blossoms.
September: Kokura Castle Takigi-Noh
Takigi-Noh, is a noh theater performance held outside by the light of burning torches. Takigi-Noh can be seen at Kokura Castle every autumn.
October: Kokura Castle Festival
Called the Kokura Castle Festival, this event is held on a Saturday and Sunday during the middle of October. It features various cultural activities including a bonsai exhibition, a wadaiko drum performance and a kendo match.
Read More About Japanese Traditional Culture:
Sightseeing Spots in the Kokura Castle Area
Kokura Castle Japanese Garden
The Kokura Castle Japanese Garden was built on the land where one of the castle's former lords, Tadazane Ogasawara, owned a second home. This garden is referred to as a kaiyushiki teien, or a landscape garden with a circular path. In the center of the garden there's a large pond with a small island inside, and a bridge crossing over the water. The inside of the garden was built in a way that allows visitors to feel and see its beautiful natural surroundings.
Address: Fukuoka, Kita-Kyushu, Kokurakita, Jonai 1-2
Admission: Adults 350 yen, Junior/Senior High School students 150 yen, Elementary School students 100 yen (all prices include tax).
Website: Kokura Castle Japanese Garden (Japanese)
Read About Other Japanese Gardens and Parks：
Seasonal Flowers in Full Bloom! Nokonoshima Island Park, Fukuoka
Connect With Nature and Art in Ōhori Park, Fukuoka
Top 5 Spots For Japanese Garden-Lovers In Tokyo
Five Must-See Gardens Recommended to Visitors
Travel times and transportation fares are based on information listed in the respective official homepages. The information is correct at the time of writing, April 2017. Please note that this information is subject to change.