Ichijodani Asakura Clan Ruins, Fukui: Sengoku Period Ruins Also Appeared in Softbank Commercial
Ichijodani was once shown in a SoftBank mobile service TV commercial as the hometown of “otosan”, the white dog that is the father of the family featured in the commercials. The Ichijodani Asakura Clan Ruins is a place made famous by this TV commercial. Not only was it the setting for a TV commercial, it is a sightseeing destination with lots to see as you can see architecture and evidence of life from the Sengoku Period (c. 1467 – c. 1603).
What is the Ichijodani Asakura Clan Ruins?
In 1467 (the 1st year of the Onin era) Asakura Takakage had acquired Echizen (the current Fukui prefecture) in the Onin War, a war that resulted from a family dispute of Muromachi Period shoguns. The Ichijodani Asakura Clan Ruins are the remains of a castle town he founded in 1471. At its peak, there were about 10,000 people living there and it was so prosperous it was called “Little Kyoto of the Hokuriku region”.
However, in 1573 the 5th generation, Asakura Yoshikage was defeated by Oda Nobunaga. The Asakura Clan perished as did the castle town.
The ruins were discovered through an excavation in 1967. Today, it is a valuable historical asset having gained three important titles of “special historical site”, “special scenic beauty” and “important cultural property”. It is only one of 6 examples that have received these designations along with Rokuonji Temple of Kyoto (Kinkakuji) and Itsukushima Jinja Shrine of Hiroshima.
From the JR Fukui Station, it is a 35 minute ride on the Keifuku Bus bound for Jokyoji. Get off at the “Bukeyashiki-mae” bus stop and walk 5 minutes from there. You can enter as you wish but the reconstructed town costs 210 yen to enter.
What are the Highlights?
1. Karamon Gate
It is the gate to the Shounin, which was built to pray for the repose of the soul of the last feudal lord of the Asakura Clan, Asakura Yoshikage. The current gate is the result of a reconstruction in the mid Edo Period (1603-1867). This also appeared in the SoftBank commercial and was made famous. Information: Map
2. The Reconstructed Town
Utilizing the stone walls and cornerstones of buildings excavated from the ruins, old samurai residences and commoners’ townhouses were quite accurately replicated. It is also a place where visitors can get a glimpse of the life back then. Similar to the Karamon gate, this site was also used in the SoftBank TV commercial. Information: Map
3. Dressing Experience
What is recommended here is that a costume dressing experience is offered. At 500 yen, visitors can choose from a selection of 3 types of armor or 2 town-girl costumes and try them on.
As the staff from the dressing service mentioned, the armor for the dressing experience is about 10 kg in weight, but the actual armor from the Sengoku period was about 2-3 times in weight! If you walk around the town in such a heavy armor, you will for sure feel like you have time traveled to the Sengoku Period!
4. Asakura Residence Site
It is the site of the grand residence of Asakura Yoshikage, with an area of 6,800 square meters. There have been 16 remains of architectural buildings that have been discovered, including the samurai residence, garden and tea room. There is the remains of Japan’s oldest flower garden and it shows how highly cultured Ichijodani was, as it was once called the “Little Kyoto of the Hokuriku region”.
5. Yudono-ato Garden
Going up the mountain road from the site of the Asakura residence, there is the Yudono-ato Garden. It is the oldest garden that exists in the Asakura Clan Ruins. Many large stones are used which is expressive of the unruly atmosphere of the Sengoku Period.
Information on the Vicinity
1. Fukui Prefecture, Ichijodani Asakura Family Site Museum
This place is a little bit away from the Asakura Clan Ruins but have displays of weaponry, dishware and tea utensils that have been excavated from the ruins. It is also a place where you can learn about the history of the Asakura family so it is recommended as a place to get some prior knowledge before actually visiting the ruins. Information: Map
2. Ichijodani Waterfall
This is a great waterfall with a 12 meter drop. It is said that Taicho Taishi a Heian Period (794-1185) monk is said to have trained in this lands and opened the waterfall. It is also said that it was where Sasaki Kojiro, rival to Miyamoto Musashi trained and developed the sword technique of “tsubame-gaeshi” which literally means “swallow reversal” or “turning swallow strike”. Information: Map
This is a place that can be enjoyed as to see the sites where a commercial was filmed; or it can be a place where you can learn about history of 400 years ago from the ruins, replicated towns, and museums. It is a very interesting place with many appeals.
Furthermore, if you walk around dressed in armor, you can feel like a Sengoku Period samurai! It is not only sightseeing with the eyes but touring by experiencing the lives of the people of the time. It should make for a valuable experience and sightseeing trip.