In addition to Maruoka Castle and Ichijodani Castle, which are selected as Japan's Top 100 Castles, Echizen Ono Castle (越前大野城 / Echizen Ono-jo) in Fukui Prefecture, Hokuriku region is another castle that is recently attracting attention. Now, let's take a look at such castle which is reminiscent of the Studio Ghibli film Laputa: Castle in the Sky.
"Echizen Ono Castle" - A castle built on land given by Nobunaga Oda
Echizen Ono Castle is located in Ono City, Fukui Prefecture. It corresponds to Ono County, one of the six groups placed in Echizen Province (越前国 / Echizen no Kuni) from around the 9th to the 10th century. In 1575, Nobunaga Oda gave the land of Ono County (大野郡 / Ono-gun) to two warlords. One of them, Nagachika Kanamori, received two-thirds of the land in Ono County and built Echizen Ono Castle on Mount Kameyama at an altitude of about 249m the following year, and built a castle town on the east side of Mount Kameyama.
Echizen Ono Castle was built over four years on top of Mount Kameyama and became the center of politics. However, in 1871, the Ono Domain was abolished 札due to the abolition of feudal domains and establishment of prefectures. In 1873, Echizen Ono Castle was demolished and only the stone walls were left behind according to the "Ordinance to Dispose of Castles" issued in 1873. Some of the buildings were then relocated to other locations, while the Honmaru was sold through bidding by more than 20 merchants. Echizen Ono Castle, which has a history of 290 years, closed its chapter once here.
The castle walls of Echizen Ono Castle were rebuilt after being destroyed by fire then dismantled
In fact, Echizen Ono Castle, which was demolished by the Ordinance to Dispose of Castles, was no longer the original castle built by Nagachika Kanamori. This is because fires occurred frequently during the Edo period. Echizen Ono Castle was no exception - a big fire fire in 1775destroyed the main building. After that, in 1795, the Honmaru was finally rebuilt, but it was later dismantled due to the "Ordinance to Dispose of Castles".
The current castle tower was rebuilt in 1968 with donations from Tadashi Hagiwara, a former samurai of Ono City. The rebuilt Echizen Ono Castle was restored with reference to the original Echizen Ono Castle and the drawings of the time. The castle tower is currently used as a museum. Documents related to successive lords of the castle are on display. You can also go up the castle tower and enjoy the surrounding scenery.
Echizen Ono Castle is one of the "Continued Best 100 Castles of Japan" with precious Nozurazumi stone walls
Even today, you can still see the vestiges of the early castle in the stone walls near the main enclosure. These stone walls were built using a technique called "Nozurazumi" (野面積み), which piles up natural stones that are almost unprocessed. It is said to be "the oldest method of stone stacking".
The stone walls of Echizen Ono Castle were built with this Nozurazumi are one of the highlights of the castle. Built by Nobunaga Oda in 1576, "Azuchi Castle" is known as the first castle in Japan to be surrounded by stone walls over 10 meters high. Construction of Echizen Ono Castle began in the same year as Azuchi Castle, and the fact that the stone walls were built is evidence of the close relationship between Nagachika Kanamori and Nobunaga Oda.
In 2017, Echizen Ono Castle was selected as one of the "Continued 100 Best Castles of Japan (*1)". It is now gaining popularity as a sightseeing spot as it retains a good old atmosphere along with the castle town.
*1: A list of famous castles in Japan newly established in 2017 when the Japan Castle Association celebrates its 50th anniversary - selected based on the selection criteria of “excellent cultural assets/historical sites”, “famous historical setting”, and “representative of the era/region”.
Echizen Ono Castle is the "Castle in the Sky" in the Hokuriku region
Beside the rare Nozurazumi stone walls and old-fashioned castle town, another attraction of Echizen Ono Castle is the scenery of "Castle in the Sky", which can only be seen for a limited time and under limited weather conditions.
Echizen Ono Castle is known as one of "Japan's three greatest 'Castle in the Sky'", along with Takeda Castle Ruins in Hyogo Prefecture and Bitchu Matsuyama Castle in Okayama Prefecture. The sea of clouds tends to occur in basins, and you can look down on the scenery from the top of the mountain. When the sea of clouds occurs, the castle looks like a fantastic "Castle in the Sky" from a distance. For this reason, it is a scenic spot that castle aficionados and photography enthusiasts should visit at least once.
To fully enjoy the spectacular view of "Castle in the Sky", the "sea of clouds" is an essential condition. The period when you can see the sea of clouds at Echizen Ono Castle is from October to the end of April of the following year, every day from dawn until around 9:00 am. However, whether or not a sea of clouds will occur depends on the weather that day.
If you want to see the castle from afar, we recommend the Inuyama Castle Ruins in Mount Inuyama, about 1km away from Echizen Ono Castle. In order to reach the ruins of Inuyama Castle, it is necessary to climb the mountain trail for about 30 minutes even from the nearest parking lot. Don't forget your climbing clothes!
Echizen Ono Castle (越前大野城 / Echizen Ono-jo)
- Address: 3-109 Shiromachi, Ono City, Fukui Prefecture
- Opening hours:
- April-September 09:00-17:00
- October-November 09:00-16:00
- Closed: Winter (December 1st - March 31st)
- Admission fee: 300 yen (free for junior high school students and younger)
- Access: About 30 minutes on foot from JR Echizen-Ono Station. Or alternatively, take the Keifuku Bus from JR Echizen-Ono Station and get off at the Ono Rokken bus stop, then walk about 8 minutes to the Tojoguchi (castle mountain climbing entrance). About 10 to 20 minutes on foot from Tojoguchi to Echizen Ono Castle
- "Echizen Ono Castle" - A castle built on land given by Nobunaga Oda
- The castle walls of Echizen Ono Castle were rebuilt after being destroyed by fire then dismantled
- Echizen Ono Castle is one of the "Continued Best 100 Castles of Japan" with precious Nozurazumi stone walls
- Echizen Ono Castle is the "Castle in the Sky" in the Hokuriku region