Kumamoto Castle


Kumamoto Castle

Severely damaged in the earthquake of 2016, Kumamoto Castle is currently undergoing repair work in certain areas, making not all parts accessible.

Known as one of Japan’s top three castles, Kumamoto Castle was built in Keicho 12 (1607)  by Kato Kiyomasa. An interesting point to note about the construction of the castle as it undergoes repairs: the ninja-gaeshi–stone sections of the walls that arch almost perpendicular to the base—meant to keep out ninjas and enemies, has survived the earthquake and stands firm yet today. The mathematics and architechtural design that went into the construction of these stone walls is both regal and beautiful.

A bit more information about the earthquake damage and interesting facts unearthed as a result of the restoration work.

There are 973 stone surfaces in the castle overall of which 229 were damaged. As the stone is considered a cultural artifact with special designation it is important for these stone surfaces to be restored exactly as they were pre-earthquake. Each stone panel was removed, numbered, photographed, and measured and only then put back into place. This project took seven months. What is thought to be a message from the original stone mason/artisan to future generations—an image of the Buddha—was discovered on the back of one panel. A truly unique find hidden for generations to come had it not been for the earthquake and damage. There is beauty even in times of sorrow and destruction.

Currently inaccessible due to repair work being done, when reopened, the Sakura-no-baba Johsaien, an antique shopping and gourmet road is a must-see. You can see the castle from below and learn about how this area impacted Japanese history, and experience the inside of the castle through a VR (virtual reality) experience.