Kumamoto Castle, built by Kato Kiyomasa between 1601-1607 in Kumamoto Kyushu, is Japan's third largest castle after Osaka Castle and Nagoya Castle.
Kumamoto Castle is a masterpiece of defensive architecture and has never been successfully stormed.
The outer walls of Kumamoto Castle measured 13km and the inner walls 5km. Kato planted camphor and gingko trees to provide firewood and edible nuts in time of seige and also dug 120 wells to provide water.
Most of the original wooden buildings were destroyed in a fire during the 1877 siege of the castle by a rebel army led by Saigo Takamori. The defenders under the command of Kanjo Tani (1837-1911) still managed to hold out for 50 days until reinforcements arrived and Saigo's rebellion was crushed. Only the Uto-Yagura turret survived the fire.
Reconstruction began in 1960 and will continue during 2007 so the castle can be restored to its former glory for its 400th anniversary. The huge Hon-Maru Go-ten Ohiroma reception hall is nearing completion.
The main tower of the 6-storey, 30-meter keep (donjon) contains an interesting museum detailing the history of Kumamoto Castle along with exhibits of Japanese armor, shells used in the 1877 attack and original photographs.
The castle grounds are popular places for cherry blossom viewing and contain Kumamoto's Prefectural Art Museum.
Admission is currently 500 yen.
Kumamoto Castle General Office
1-1 Kyo-machi Kumamoto 860-0007
Tel: 096 352 5900
Japanese Art - byobu screens
Japan Kumamoto Kumamoto Castle Kyushu
Friday, March 30, 2007