Kumamoto Castle is a symbol of Kumamoto and is one of the three major castles in Japan. It was first built in the Muromachi era (1392-1573) and warrior Kato Kiyomasa (1562-1611) became lord of the castle in 1588. After 7 years of construction, Kiyomasa finally completed Kumamoto Castle in 1607. After his death, Lord Hosokawa entered the castle and his family resided there for 240 years, until beginning of the Meiji-era (1868-1912). With a large keep, a small keep, 49 turrets, 18 yagura-mon (a gate on which a turret is built) and 29 gates, the castle was marvelous and impregnable. The castle now has only 5 remaining gates : Sudoguchi-mon, Hazekata-mon, Hohoate-gomon, Nishi-yagura-mon and Akazu-no-mon. The keeps burned down in the Seinan war in 1877 but they were reconstructed in 1960. Homaru-goten (a palace in the center of the castle) will be reconstructed to commemorate the 400th anniversary.
+ Castle Keeps and Turrets
The remaining two keeps were reconstructed in 1960. Ichi-no-Tenshu (the first keep) is home to property belonging to the Kato and Hosokawa families. Uto yagura turret is the only multi-layered turret that survived the Seinan war and is called the third keep. It demonstrates the structure of the castle and retains the atmosphere of the time when the castle was built.
+ Stone walls
It is said that the most attractive features of the castle are its stone walls. The walls were built by experts who were brought all the way from Omi-no-kuni (now Shiga Prefecture) by Lord Kato Kiyomasa. Kiyomasa was famous for stone wall making and demonstrated his ability by also building Nagoya Castle and Osaka Castle. The slope of the lower part of the wall is gentle (about 30 degrees) but it steepens at the upper part to about 75 degrees, which looks like a steep cliff. The style of the walls is called “musha-gaeshi,” meaning “to reverse warriors.”
From Kumamoto-jo Shiyakusho-mae tram stop: 3 min on foot
Honmaru, Kumamoto-shi, Kumamoto