Japanese Castle Explorer

by Daniel O'Grady

Imjin War book cover Castles of the Samurai: Power and Beauty

Kokura Castle

Images: Daniel O'Grady


Kokura Domain

1600 - 1632

Hosokawa Clan

399,000 Koku

1632 - 1871

Ogasawa Clan

150,000 Koku

Kokura Castle is classified as a flatland castle (its layout: Renkakushiki), and is located in Fukuoka Prefecture. During the pre-modern age, it found itself within the borders of Buzen Province. It is associated with the Hosokawa, Ogasawara clans. Dates in use: 1602 - 1866.

When the castle was rebuilt in 1959, certain embellishments were included in the design that changed how the castle should be classified. The addition of several gables transformed what was a Sōtōgata-type tower - where each level is smaller than the one below it (excluding the upper most level) to a Bōrōgata-type tower - where a watchtower appears to emerge through it's roof.

The upper-most section of the tower, with its overhanging level, represents a highly unusual style of Tenshu. This style is known as Nanban-zukuri & was used in the construction of both Iwakuni & Takamatsu castles.


1569 Constructed by the Mōri clan of western Honshu.
1600 After Sekigahara the castle was awarded to Hosokawa Tadaoki.
1602 The castle was enlarged.
1632 The Hosokawa were transferred to Kumamoto castle. The Ogasawara took over.
1637 Miyamoto Musashi arrived at Kokura castle to assist the Ogasawara in quelling the Shimabara rebellion.
1798 The fifth Ogasawara lord, Tadamitsu had a garden with a pond made within the castle walls.
1837 The keep and attached tower were destroyed by fire.
1839 Many structures were rebuilt but the main tower was not.
1866 The castle was attacked by the rebelling armies of Western Honshu & was set fire to by retreating Ogasawara forces.
1959 The main tower was rebuilt using concrete. It's appearance differs from how it looked prior to the 1837 fire with several gables included to increase its visual appeal.
1990 A renovation of the interior of the main tower was completed.
1998 The Kokura Castle Japanese garden was completed.