Kumamoto Castle   熊本城

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The Impregnable Kumamoto Castle

Kumamoto is said to have one of Japan's biggest and most impressive castle in the country. It offers a true reflection and experience of Japan's ancient castles.

Approaching the fortress we can see nothing but. The massive walls standing behind wide moats, with arrow slits where archers took up positions to prevent the attackers from approaching. Kumamoto Castle is a fine example of military architecture from the Edo period (1600-1868), combining the charm of the great castles of Japan (Himeji, Matsumoto) and key defensive elements in case of a siege.

Tower and Dungeon

To the left of the entrance protrudes the Uto yagura tower, the only original part (1607) of the castle, which was used to store weapons and garrison. But the centerpiece of the ensemble is concealed from external view: the dungeon (Tenshukaku), formerly reserved for the close circle of Lord Hosokawa and the last refuge if assailants managed to penetrate the outer wall.

It is now a charming museum dedicated to the history of he place, notably presenting a large wooden model of the castle in the seventeenth century, vintage armor, and other items appreciated by the warrior class.

50 days of siege

It was said to be impenetrable, and Kumamoto Castle lived up to its reputation. Even during the civil war triggered by the Meiji revolution. In 1877, the Lord of Satsuma (Kagoshima), Saigo Takamori, hostile to reforms prepared by the new emperor, sent his troops to assault the fortress, which was home to the imperial troops.

The siege lasted more than 50 days, interspersed with deadly battles such as Tabaruzaka, during which 15 000 Takamori samurai held their own against 90 000 of the emperor's men. The castle suffered a huge fire, (it was rebuilt in 1960 and in the late 90s), but it was not taken. One night, the imperial army defeated the troops of Saigo Takamori with a surprise attack, ending the famous "Satsuma Revolt."

Walk to Kumamoto Castle, video HidetoGamingJP

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