Kumamoto Castle [熊本城]
Castle tower of Kumamoto Castle under repair
in spring of 2019
Repairing tower under repair in spring of 2019
Kumamoto Castle is located 2.5 to 3.5 km northeast of JR Kumamoto station.
The first castle was built in the late 15th century.
In 1587, the lord did misgovernment, a riot occured in Kumamoto area.
The lord was punished by Shogun, then Kato Kiyomasa (1562-1611) was send to this area as the new lord.
Kiyomasa rebuilt new castle which is the current Kumamoto Castle from 1601 to 1607.
He conducted developing a new rice field and river improvement.
By his government, Kumamoto city had developed.
In 1877 after the end of feudal times, Satsuma Rebellion against Meiji government occured in the southrn part of Kyushu Island.
In the civil war, Kumamoto Castle and old town of Kumamoto city were burned down.
The castle tower and many main buildings were lost, and only 13 buildings remained.
In 1945, the city was destroyed by US air raids during World War II, but the remaining buildings miraculously escaped the destruction.
The original 13 buildings are designated as important cultural properties.
In 1960, the castle tower and some buildings were restored.
And, the other buildings had been restoring by 2007.
Castle tower of Kumamoto Castle
Damaged stone wall of Uto-yagura tower
On April 1, 2016, Kumamoto earthquakes occured around Kumamoto area.
For a week, strong earthquakes occured more than 20 times in succession.
By these cruel earthquakes, many parts of strong stone wall were collapsed and the the main tower was severely damaged.
The restoration work started from 2017.
And the repair for the outside of the castle tower was completed in the autumn of 2019.
But it is likely that the restoration of whole castle will take about 20 years.
Honmaru Goten and castle tower
Inside of Honmaru Goten
The nickname of this castle is "Castle of Ginnan".
"Ginnan" means "gingko nut".
It is said that Kiyomasa planted many gingko trees in this castle.
Because, when his militaly was forced to be besieged in the castle in the war, the gingko nuts were available as food.
The site of the castle is about 750 meters north to south and about 1 km from east to west.
Tsuboi River flows on the south side of the castle and served as a moat to defend the castle.
There is the castle tower in the east side of the site.
Dai-tenshu (Large tower, 大天守) and Shô-tenshu (Small tower, 小天守) stand beside each other.
There is Honmaru Goten (本丸御殿) near the castle tower.
It was a palace where the lord was living and visirors met with the lord.
So each room is very gorgeous.
It was built around 1610, and was restored in 2008.
These are the central buildings.
And they are surrounded by many stone walls and small towers are dotted.
Ninomaru park in Kumamoto Castle
The west side of the castle is the areas of Nimomaru (二の丸) and Sannomaru (三の丸)
In these area, the retainers of the lord were living.
Now, the main part of them is a park.
There is Sakura-no-baba Jôsaien (桜の馬場 城彩苑) near the southern entrance of the castle.
It is a tourist facilitie of the castle, and there are many souvenir shops, restaurants, museum and tourist office.
How to get here
By Kyushu-Shinaken, to Kumamoto, 32 to 50 minutes from Hakata.
From Kumamoto station, by streetcar, get off at Hanabatacho or Kumamoto castle / City hall stop.