The Ichijodani Asakura Clan Historic Ruins is designated by the national government as a Special Historic Site, Special Place of Scenic Beauty, and an Important Cultural Property. It is one of Japan’s most famous heritage sites.
The site is a vast 278 hectares, about the size of 60 Tokyo Domes, and is the only “medieval city ruins” in Japan where a city from the medieval era has been left intact.
In the 2020 NHK historical drama “Kirin ga Kuru,” the ruins were used in the movie as a hideout for the main character, Mitsuhide Akechi, who was at the moment in a tight spot. He ruled Echizen for five generations from Yoshikage Asakura for about 100 years. Although Mitsuhide was a ruler during the Sengoku period, he was deeply knowledgeable about cultural matters because of his close ties to Kyoto, and he worked hard to develop agriculture, fisheries, handicrafts, and other industries.
At that time, the population was over 10,000 and the town was well developed and flourished as the center of Echizen. However, during the Sengoku period, the town was defeated in battle by the fifth generation Yoshikage, and was destroyed by the forces of Oda Nobunaga who set the town on fire. After losing its master, the town was buried under rice fields.
It was during the excavations that began in 1967 that this glorious place once again saw the light of day. During the excavation, a vast amount of objects and materials that showed how people lived during the Sengoku period were dug up. Samurai residences, temples, town houses, craftsmen’s residences, and even streets were also preserved. The town is called the “Pompeii of Japan” because it was excavated in perfect condition.
｜Travel back in time and walk through the four gardens designated as the Special Place of Scenic Beauty.
The entire castle town of Ichijodani is a must-see, as are the restored townscape and the four gardens (Asakura-kan Ruins Garden, Yuden Ruins Garden, Suwakan Ruins Garden, and Nanyoji Ruins Garden), which are designated as a Special Scenic Spot. The restored townscape, which is 30 meters in length from east to west and north to south offers a glimpse of samurai residences and the castle town of the time. The main street has been designed in the style of the Sengku period. Not only the buildings and streets, but also nature and its four seasons are popular with tourists.
The view of the cherry blossoms, fresh green leaves, autumn leaves, and snow around the large gate has not changed since the Sengoku period. You can get the feel of what the town might have been like in the past, when it was lively. However, you can also feel a sense of desolation. Take a stroll through the ruins and imagine that you have traveled back in time.
You can also try on a kimono and become a samurai or a commoner of the time.
｜Ichinodani is the hometown of the main character for Sofbank, the white dog “Otosan (Father),” and has appeared in their commercial.
The Ichinodani Asakura Clan Ruins and the Ichinodani area have appeared in a Softbank commercial. As the hometown of the white dog “Otosan (Father), various series of commercials have been aired over the past six years, featuring the restored townscape and the garden promenade. It has also been featured in movies such as “My departure (Tabi no okurimono ashita e).” Many people enjoy touring through the filming locations.
Also, nearby is the Fukui Prefectural Museum of the Ichinodani Asakura Clan Ruins, where about 500 excavated materials and documents are on display. In addition, the Ichinodani Asakura Ruins Museum (tentative name) is scheduled to be completed in 2022. In the museum, there will be a huge diorama that recreates the streets and people’s activities of the time, a full-scale reproduction of Asakura Hall, and you can even have hands-on experiences.
Other popular events are the light up during the cherry blossom season and the “Echizen Asakura Sengoku Festival” held every August. You can see the smoke from the flintlock guns and experience the magical atmosphere created by more than 15,000 candles during the “Echizen Asakura Manto Night”.