Kumamoto Castle 熊本城
Founder Kato Kiyomasa
Year 1607
Type Hilltop
Condition Reconstructed
Alternate Name Ginnan-jo
Reconstructed 1960
Structure 3 levels, 6 floors, 1 floor below ground
Admin's Rating ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Historical Site Special Historic Site
Historical Value Top 100 Castles, Important Cultural Properties
Historical Artifacts Important Cultural Properties:
Utoyagura, East Juuhachiken Yagura, North Juuhachiken Yagura, Goken Yagura, Gennoshin Yagura, Juuyonken Yagura, Shichiken Yagura, Hirayagura, Kenmotsu Yagura, Nagabei, Tako Yagura, Yonken Yagura, Akazuno mon
Location Kumamoto, Kumamoto Pref.
Map Google Map
Access Kumamoto Sta. (Kagoshima Line), city bus
Website Kumamoto City Sightseeing
History After the battle of Sekigahara, Kato Kiyomasa built this incredible fortress in Kumamoto. The castle expertly utilizes the geography to make one of the most impregnable castles ever built in Japan.

The Kato reign ended after only two generations when Kiyomasa's son was replaced by Hosokawa Tadatoshi in 1632. The Hosokawa reigned for 240 years until the Meiji Period.

The main keep and connected smaller tower, among other buildings, were burned to the ground during the Satsuma rebellion of 1877

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Comment on this castle
  • Ron S    October 17, 2016 at 09:44 PM
    I got my calendar recently and it's a beauty! Not all of the months have before/after pics, but you get a large and small pic for each month (It's not stingy like many other J-calendars which share one picture for 2 months) and the photography is beautiful, showing some structures and angles not often seen.I recommend it VERY highly. Anyway Eric, you are still young and sure to be around when Kumamoto Castle is fully restored and better than before.
  • Eric    October 04, 2016 at 11:16 PM
    Ron, Thanks for the info! I think if I had to look at a calendar every day though I might get depressed (since I've never been there!). I would be interested in a detailed book of before/after photos however.
  • RonS    October 02, 2016 at 02:53 PM
    Hey guys/gals! Have you got your calendar for 2017 yet? If not, or if you'd like another, how about this Kumamoto Castle "then and now" commemorative wall calendar. Each month features a part of the castle before and after the earthquake. For every calendar purchased, the publisher will donate ¥200 to the reconstruction fund. I kind of wish that are a little more, but hey! It's better than nothing! https://www.amazon.co.jp/dp/B01KSWHMTG/ref=pe_492632_159100282_TE_item
  • RonS    October 02, 2016 at 02:40 PM
    One of the most incredible things I've EVER seen in my life was the ability of eight corner stones to hold up the Gokai Yagura despite continuing aftershocks. It is a tribute to the quality of the wall's construction and the durability of traditional wooden buildings (they can twist and flex to an amazing degree). Almost as incredible is the arm and brace that was constructed and slid into place to relieve those weary stones of their brave task. Otusakesama deshita miracle stones! Check out this article in English: http://www.spoon-tamago.com/2016/07/26/photos-of-the-kumamoto-castle-reconstruction-efforts/ You can see a time lapse video of the process on the Kumamoto Castle Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/KumamotoCastle/
  • snoworion on My Page    September 20, 2016 at 05:31 PM
    Visited on 15 December 2014 and again on 21 December 2014. Excellent castle with imposing castle grounds. This has to rank among the best castles I have visited and will visit again.
  • RonS    May 14, 2016 at 09:50 AM
    Thaks Yosh! You saved me some translation work.
  • Minyan    May 12, 2016 at 10:40 PM
    "The song for Kumamoto castle" from youtube : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AR7XHJcSAbA Do you know about "the song for kumamoto castle"? In last Dec., the song was made for promote this landmark by prefectural officials. Let's encourage the reconstruction of this castle by watching this video!!
  • Yosh    May 12, 2016 at 08:39 AM
    Hey, guys! Go to the site below if you want to make a donation for the castle. It's in the Kumamoto city website. http://www.city.kumamoto.jp/html/foreign_language/en/donation.htm
  • RonS    May 08, 2016 at 11:53 AM
    Hey folks! Let's put our money where our hearts are! Below is a link from the official Kumamoto Castle web site to donate money for the castle's restoration. It's all in Japanese. As soon as I can I'll translate the important bits. http://www.manyou-kumamoto.jp/event/castle.cfm?id=1158
  • ART    April 20, 2016 at 02:39 PM
    It's sad but the description above is no longer accurate. In the 震度7 which hit the kumamoto area, both juuhachiken yagura collapsed along with their stone foundations and are no more.
  • DiegoDeManila    April 10, 2016 at 05:31 PM
    Visited 2013 and 2015. On my earlier visit (https://withinstrikingdistance.wordpress.com/2013/06/26/field-report-kumamoto-09-april-2013/), I went almost straight through to the honmaru to gawk at the absolutely magnificent reconstructed palace. On my more recent trip (https://withinstrikingdistance.wordpress.com/2016/04/10/field-report-kumamoto-castle-japan-27-march-2015/), I detoured east to admire some of the surviving yagura in that part of the castle. The Bagu Turret guarding the Hazekata Gate - through which I entered the castle on both trips - was under wraps for reconstruction in 2013, and was fully unveiled by 2015; a nice little bonus that enhanced my second time there.
  • Malcolm    October 17, 2014 at 01:11 PM
    If you have a rail pass then this castle is easy to do in a day trip from Osaka. The Sakura shinkansen leaves there at around 6:30 pulling into Kumamoto at 10am. Then you have the day before leaving Kumamoto anytime until about 5-7pm. Naturally the castle deserves more. An overnight will get you some wonderful night views of the castle, lit up. And then early morning sees the walls and turrets in that golden hour of sunshine. There is a fantastic dance festival held all over the town in late March, with two stages at the castle. 60 odd dance groups, putting on 10-20 minutes of dancing shows that go on for two days. Some of the dances feature period costumes. The castle is great as a backdrop, but the dancing is amazing too. During that time the castle stays open to 8pm, not sure if that is normal, and there is no problem about free re entry once you got your day ticket, so worth checking out.
  • RaymondW    August 26, 2014 at 05:14 PM
    I went to this castle again during the Obon Holiday in mid-August. Since my last visit in February 2012, they have almost finished rebuilding the Bagu Yagura down by the river. It will be open to the public in October. This castle is so big that this time round I managed to visit a part that I had missed on my previous visits in 2008 and 2012.
  • Anonymous    May 30, 2014 at 02:45 AM
    Whatch this video about Kumamoto castle!! It's fantastic! http://youtu.be/RVnPftWc7gQ
  • kiddus_i2003 on My Page    April 04, 2014 at 10:59 PM
    Impressive is the only word to describe it. Imagine if all of the original buildings existed today, what a sight.
  • RaymondW    April 21, 2013 at 08:38 AM
    Furinkazan: agree with you about the concrete tenshu, but I guess it was a reflection of the times during the Showa Period when they went for durability (fireproof) over authenticity in their reconstructions. Nevertheless, this is a great castle to visit.
  • furinkazan on My Page    April 19, 2013 at 07:02 PM
    This is really a fabulous caslte to visit. I spent the whole day at the site. I didn't had enough with 1 pair of eyes to look at everything. Nevertheless i give it only 4.5 stars because of that little, very little black spot that is the concrete tenshukaku.
  • KulaRon    April 17, 2013 at 06:41 AM
    Visited the castle during sakura season which made it more spectacular. The immense size of the entire castle complex is astounding with walls and gates extending almost half a mile from one end to another. Trip to Kumamoto was to research information regarding my grandfather and the visit to Kumamoto Castle was an all-to-brief side trip. I need to return to follow up on my grandfather but will spend at least a day in the castle to better appreciate its history. Although my visit was the first to a Japanese castle, I felt the restoration work was excellent.
  • RaymondW on My Page    February 28, 2012 at 10:58 PM
    This is one castle site without an original castle keep that can easily compare well with and surpass some of the smaller original castles in Japan. I spent two days at this castle. I think for most castle fans, you can easily spend a full day at this castle as it is huge with lots of ishigaki, original and reconstructed turrets and towers, a reconstructed palace, multiple massive baileys, deep moats, and a concrete castle keep. The original Uto Tower (Uto Yagura) would be a castle keep in its own right anywhere else in Japan, but at Kumamoto Castle, it is just one of the major defensive towers protecting one corner of the inner castle site. As mentioned on this website already, there are 13 original structures including the Uto Yagura. Not all the yaguras are open, but you can go inside Uto Yagura, Iida-maru Five-storey Yagura, Sukiyamaru Two-storey Hall, the Honmaru Goten (Main Bailey Palace) and, of course, the castle keep. Some of the other yaguras and structures are open to the public only on special occasions. About a third of the original Honmaru Goten has been restored, but it has been done very well. You can take photos inside the palace with the flash off. This is an awesome castle site to visit. If you can make it to only one castle site in Kyushu, make this your number one priority, but give yourself plenty of time to see it all. These guys are continuously working on improving the castle site. Right now, they are working on restoring the Bagu Yagura next to the Hazekata Gate. This is certainly a five star site.
  • bryanbaier on My Page    February 13, 2012 at 10:11 PM
    The extensive stone walls of this castle are amazing and the original turrets are incredible. The tower may be a reconstruction but that in no way detracts from the experience. In Kumamoto? Go!
  • miki    October 23, 2011 at 07:46 PM
  • Frank T. on My Page    September 21, 2011 at 07:56 PM
    Despite the fact that the keep is not original, this is one of the best castle sites. The grounds are extensive and there are many structures. I strongly recommend strolling the grounds at night since the structures are lit up. I can't wait to visit again and see the reconstructed palace.
  • rebolforces on My Page    May 22, 2011 at 07:17 PM
    Saw it light up at night and also got pics during the day. The palace reconstruction is amazing. Lacquered room with gold.
  • john    April 20, 2011 at 10:14 AM
    i just love the archetecture on the japanese castle-the exteriors are elegant as well as functional, in stark contrast to the european castles
  • john    April 03, 2010 at 06:10 AM
    what i would LOVE to see is a book that would have lots of pictures and would be a walk through guide to all the major japanese castles;Edo, Osaka Fuikayama, Hemieji,Kumamoto,Shimabara,Matsumoto,Nagoya,Hiroshima,etc. thatway us armchair travelers could see them too.
  • annonymous    February 28, 2010 at 10:43 AM
    i havent been there yet so i dont know whats its like !!! bahahahahaha
  • melvyn    August 04, 2008 at 11:00 PM
    I went there during March this year. What an amazing place. :)
  • Tommy Jackson    June 18, 2008 at 11:59 AM
    i've been here years ago, back when i was around 14. my ancestor on my grandma's mom's side is Kato Kiyomasa , so i feel kinda connected to it. on my grandma's mom's side im realted to Kato Kiyomasa and on my grandma's father's side im related to Oda Nobunaga
  • dyl    May 31, 2008 at 06:11 AM
    i have been to the castle and it is terrific.
  • jaime    May 08, 2008 at 12:49 AM
    i love japan and i think this castle is a beauty of architecture. i did't know that mhyst
  • mhyst    April 12, 2008 at 02:38 AM
    This castle is cool. You could add that the famous samurai Miyamoto Musashi was hosted in this castle invited by Hosokawa Tadatoshi and lived there some time. I'm an assiduous reader of this website since I discovered some years ago. Thank you for your work
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