Fukuyama Castle is a post-WWll reconstruction of the original structure that was built in 1622. The impressive five story castle houses a museum that reflects both its history and also that of the local area. It holds many of the daily implements that were used by people associated with the complex.
In order to understand the story of Fukuyama Castle you have to keep several events in mind. Firstly, after the Meiji Restoration which returned the emperor to power and signaled the end of an era dominated by warlords, the castle fell into disuse and many of the structures on the grounds were demolished.
Much of what remained of the castle, including the main tower, was destroyed during the bombing that occurred during WWII. Ultimately, the tower was restored in 1966 and today functions as a museum with all manner of historic artifacts on display.
The basement exhibition hall features displays of samurai armor and a scale model of the castle. The first floor houses weaponry, armor, Confucian-related writings and paintings connected to the Fukuyama Clan. The second and third floors hold further items from clan-associated households.
The fourth floor is the repository of pieces dating as far back as the Jomon period (from around 15,000 BCE to 100-200 CE) as well as artifacts from subsequent eras.
The top floor of the castle is an observation deck which offers a great view of the city center and the castle park. From there you can spot many of the sightseeing spots that are within walking distance.
The castle is located within Fukuyama Castle Park, which is essentially a cultural zone as it is home to the Fukuyama Museum of Art, the Human Rights and Peace Museum and the Hiroshima Prefectural Museum of History.
If at all possible, try to plan your visit to Fukuyama Castle around the annual three day summer festival that takes place in mid-August. The first two days consist of traditional Japanese dance performances, culminating in a spectacular fireworks display on the third day.
About the Area
Fukuyama is the second largest city in Hiroshima Prefecture and borders Okayama Prefecture to the west. The city is famous for is annual rose festival and the splendid Fukuyama castle. The castle is the cultural center of the city, as many yearly events and festivals are held there or in the vicinity.
Tomonoura is a port district of the city that has become well-known for its use in both live action and animated features. Most famous for being the inspiration behind the setting of the Studio Ghibli animated film Ponyo, the quaint Edo era structures of the town have a timeless appeal.
There are quite a number of sights to see within Tomonoura, including Fukuzenji Temple, with its stunning view of the Benten Island. You can also visit the elegant Enpuku-ji Temple. Other sights on the mainland include the Joyato Lantern, Ankoku-ji Temple and Nunakuma Shrine.
Just off the Tomonoura coast is the resort island of Sensuijima, which can be reached by ferry in a few minutes. The island has three hotels, a swimming beach, a hiking course and a number of notable scenic spots. There are also several heated seawater baths around the island as well.
Access: Take the Shinkansen from JR Okayama Station to JR Fukuyama Station. Fukuyama Castle is about a 5 minute walk from JR Fukuyama Station.
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