On a very hot summer`s day, on my way home from Mt Aso in Kumamoto I decided to pop into Kikuchi and have a look at the castle site.
I had wanted to visit for a while so I was excited to finally get there. Kikuchi castle is an ancient fortress built in c.698AD. Three fortresses were built in Kyushu around the same time by the combined Yamatai (Japan) and Baekje (Korea) nobles who were defeated at the Battle of Hakusukinoe, in 663AD, Korea by the Silla (Korea) and Tang (China) army. The other two ancient sites being Ono castle in Fukuoka and Kii castle in Saga prefecture.
These fortresses were built as defensive structures incase of a Korean/Chinese invasion of Japan. Kikuchi fortress was a support site for Ono and Kii which were the main castles to take the brunt of the attacks if they ever came. Kikuchi`s role was to supply food, weapons and train soldiers.
The site is found in Yonabaru town, Kikuchi city, Kumamoto. Excavations began back in 1967 and the remains of 72 building foundations have been uncovered. Since 1994 a few buildings have been reconstructed on the original excavated foundations, the most famous is the octagonal drum tower. Other buildings are a rice storehouse, army barracks, observation rest house and one other store room that may have been used to store weapons. Other foundation stones are littered around the main site and you can get a feeling of how big this site is.
I was told by the museum staff that it takes about one and a half hours to walk the whole outer perimeter where you can see the remains of the defensive embankments and gates. I did not do this walk as I was short of time and it was over 34 deg C. Way too hot.
There is a nice little museum and cafe and the staff can speak English. They were friendly and very helpful.
I will add more to this blog as I translate the information they gave me.
Text and photos by Stu.