Date: 24th June 2018
Despite it having rained earlier, the clouds suddenly cleared up and it was hot and sunny by the time I returned to Kofu Station around mid-day. The second stop for the day was the Maizuru Castle Park (舞鶴城公園), which includes the ruins of Kofu Castle (甲府城), also called Maizuru Castle.
Following the fall of the Takeda clan in 1582 to the Oda Nobunaga and Tokugawa Ieyasu’s combined forces, the Kai Province (present day Yamanashi Prefecture) was governed briefly by Nobunaga’s retainer, Kawajiri Hidetaka. After the Honno-ji incident which saw the death of Oda Nobunaga, the Kai province came under the governance of Tokugawa Ieyasu.
Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s nephew, Hashiba Hidekatsu and Hideyoshi’s retainer Kato Mitsuyasu begun the construction of the castle in 1583 by the orders of Hideyoshi himself. This was around the period when Hideyoshi unified Japan. It was finally completed by Asano Nagamasa and his son Yukinaga.
Following the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600 which resulted in the beginning of the Tokugawa Shogunate, Kofu Castle came under the governance of the Tokugawa clan. In the early Edo period, due to its strategic location, the lord of the castle has always been a member of the Shogunate family.
Tokugawa Tsunatoyo, the 4th daimyo of Kofu Domain moved to Edo Castle in 1704 succeeding Tokugawa Tsunayoshi as the sixth shogun of the Tokugawa shogunate. Following this, the Kofu Domain came under the governance of Yanagisawa Yoshiyasu, trusted adviser of the 5th shogun and as a trivia – the one who built the much loved Rikugien in Edo. Under Yoshiyasu’s administration, the castle was fully restored and the castle town flourished.
After Yoshiyasu’s son Yoshisato who succeeded him was transferred to the Yamato-Koriyama domain in 1724, the Kai Province came under the direct command of the Shogunate. Kofu Castle was then put under the control of a samurai who was stationed there in which during this period the Honmaru Palace and the Akaganemon gate were destroyed by fire in 1727.
Similar to the fates of other castles following the Meiji Restoration, Kofu Castle was also abandoned and was majorly destroyed in 1877. The castle area was briefly used for industrial testing facility before it was decided in 1897 that the Yakatakuruwa and Shimizukuruwa enclosures were to be dismantled to built Kofu Station.
In 1904 the Honmaru area was opened to the public as Maizuru Park, while the prefectural office and assembly hall was moved to the dismantled area of the Gakuyakuruwa Enclosure in 1930 following the move of Kofu Junior High School.
A major structure you can see in the Kofu Castle ruins is the reconstructed Kuroganemon. The gate was originally a two-story Yaguramon on the southern side of the Honmaru.
Another reconstructed structure is the Inari Yagura Tower, completed in 2004. Inside the building you can see some artifacts from the original castle.
From the Tenshudai (castle keep) ruins, you can get a view of Kofu city and the surrounding mountains. Imagine how it would be if the castle keep still exist – after all, this is originally a hilltop castle. On a clear day, you should be even able to see Mt. Fuji from here.
The castle park is a popular cherry blossom spot, so be prepared for a crowd if you are coming during that season. In summer, you can see hydrangeas here, near the Inari Yagura Tower. Funny enough, the hydrangea garden was absent from people. Well, I guess they noticed the number of bees and hornets around here.
Also, there is a Japanese garden near the park management office, perfect for a nice stroll.
- Park is always open
- Inari Yagura Tower and Yamanote Gomon Gate: 09:00 – 16:30
- Mondays except Public Holidays, or day after if Monday is a Public Holiday
- December 29 – January 3
Admission fee: Free
The Maizuru Castle Park / Kofu Castle Ruins is an easy 7-mins, 600m walk away from Kofu Station.
Kofu Station is served by the JR East Chuo Main Line and the JR Central Minobu Line. Here are some access examples:
- From Shinjuku Station: JR Chuo Line Limited Express – 1 hr 43 mins, 8 stops (4,330 yen)
- From Takao Station: JR Chuo Line – 1 hr 35 mins, 19 stops (1,490 yen)
- From Shiojiri Station (Nagano): JR Chuo Line – 1 hr 36 mins, 18 stops (1,490 yen)
- From Fuji Station (Shizuoka): JR Minobu Line – Limited Express 1 hr 52 mins, 10 stops (3,560 yen) / Local 2 hrs 45 mins, 38 stops (1,660 yen)