Kumamoto castle is the standing emblem of Kyushu. But as the whole Kumamoto prefecture, the building suffered from the 2016 earthquakes. The foundations were weakened and several historical items, including a centuries-old wall, collapsed. We had the chance to discover the castle, one of the Heisei 100 landscapes, a year before.
According to officials, at least two decades will be necessary to restore the whole Kumamoto castle and surroundings. The keep will be ready for 2019 (in time for the 2019 Rugby World Cup) but it was not the only part affected by the 2016 earthquakes. As the keep, rebuilt in concrete in 1960, is at the heart of one of the biggest and best-preserved castle complex.
Thirteen important cultural properties are to be found around the keep. The whole dates back from the beginning of Edo period, built from 1600 to 1607 by local lord Kita Kiyomasa. Precisely the same that took an active part in Nagoya castle building.
The main keep is a museum since the 1960 concrete rebuilt. The post-quake restoration will allow to improve the building’s accessibility. The original tenshu burned accidentally in 1877, right before the Satsuma rebellion (Seinan-sensho meaning “South-West war”).
Since the 1960s, other part of the castle were progressively rebuilt, as the luxurious Honmaru Goten. But that process was interrupted by the earthquakes.
We visited Kumamoto castle before beginning the Nippon100 challenge, during autumn 2015 and the Kumamoto-jo matsuri. The castle park is also famous for its spring cherry blossoms.
How to get there?
Kumamoto castle is located in Kumamoto city, about 15 minutes by tram from the train station (170 yens, Kumamotojo-mae stop), or 45 minutes walking. From Tokyo to Kumamoto, planes and shinkansen (Tokaido, Sanyo and finally Kyushu Shinkansen with a change in Shin-Osaka or Hakata, six hours altogether for 26000 yens) are both convenient.