Kumamoto-Jo, or Kumamoto Castle, located at the Kumamoto Prefecture, is a hilltop castle, which was designed by Kato Kiyomasa in 1607, initially fortified by Ideta Hidenobu in 1467 and further developed by Kanokogi Chikakazu in 1496. It had 49 turrets, 18 turret gates and 29 smaller gates. The castle has a rich history, being home to the Kato Clan from 1588- 1632, and the Hosokawa Clan in 1632-1871. The legendary swordsman, Miyamoto Musashi, also had connections with the
Hosokawa Clan, becoming the retainer of the Hosokowa lords of Kumamoto in 1640.
In 1877, under the Meiji Empire, the Satsuma Rebellion occurred, due to the samurai being outraged by the loss of power due to the new political power system. Saigo Takamori, the leader of the rebellion, and his army fought and tried to siege the castle, which was being defended by the new Japanese Army. The main tower, the castle keep, and several other structures, including the Japanese Army’s food supply building, were hit by artillery and burned to the ground. Despite this, the Japanese Army survived constant attacks by the rebel army, without support from the main Japanese army for 7 weeks. This is partly due to the well-designed castle, preventing the rebel army from being able to breach the gates or the walls. The castle, through Kato Kiyomasa’s design, played a huge role in the victory of the Japanese Army, with its maze of gates and curved stone walls, known as musha-geshi.
In 1960, the main tower was reconstructed using concrete. There were 13 structures that were undamaged during the Satsuma Rebellion, which then were designated as Japan’s Important Cultural Properties.
The restoration of the Kumamoto Castle then began in 1998, including the rebuilding of several structures, including the five-story high Iida Turret and by 2004, most of the construction was completed, finalizing at 2008, where the Honmaru Goten Palace was completed.
However, in 2016, earthquakes of magnitude 6.2 and 7.3 respectively severely damaged many parts of the castle, including 2 of its turrets. Currently, the public cannot enter the castle due to repair works. The main keep is expected to be repaired in 2019 while the other structures of the castle that were affected will be estimated to be fixed by 2036.