Fukuoka residents don’t think twice about it, but there are actually two names for Fukuoka City. The locals don’t seem to make a clear distinction between the names Fukuoka and Hakata, but the Hakata name is well known among people outside of Fukuoka, and particularly among those outside of Kyushu. Nevertheless, the Fukuoka name was first used during the Edo period (1603-1868), and Fukuoka City became the official name during the Meiji period that followed. Therefore, the Hakata name has been used for a considerably longer period of time.
The site now familiar to city residents as Maizuru Park was once the location of the Fukuoka Castle, which took the first daimyo, Kuroda Nagamasa, seven years to build, starting in 1601. The efforts of Nagamasa and his son, Kuroda Josui, in the Battle of Sekigahara contributed to the victory of Tokugawa Ieyasu, who rewarded them with the Chikuzen fief that yielded 523,000 koku of rice (or more than one million U.S. bushels). The original residence of the Kuroda feudal lords was Fukuoka in Bizen, now Okayama prefecture, so they called their new home Fukuoka Castle. That’s how the region around the castle came to be known as Fukuoka. When viewed from Hakata Bay, the castle seemed to soar like a bird in the sky, hence the name Maizuru Castle, or “The Dancing Crane.”
In those days the castle was a magnificent structure—there were moats extending inland from the sea, and it had more than 10 gates and 47 turrets. The stone walls were also very imposing, having been built by well-known masons who had helped build the Osaka Castle. Therefore, it also was called Sekijo, or the Stone Castle. Visitors can see the Minamimaru Tam on turret and the impressive wall, which have both survived until present day.
Built in the center of the city, Maizuru Park is a favorite spot among the city’s residents for its floral beauty throughout the year. In addition to being renowned as a location for viewing cherry blossoms, the park also has several varieties of peony, wisteria, iris, and hydrangea. In the summer, the entire moat is filled with lotus in bloom.
There are still too many people who don’t seem to be aware of Fukuoka history, including that of the Kuroda domain and the Fukuoka Castle. You’ll be thrilled at all the discoveries that await you at Maizuru Park.
For more details, be sure to check out this website: http://www.mori-midori.com/sisetsu/10maizuru/