Friday, October 14, 2011

Visit Kumamoto Castle

This is my story about my visiting to Kumamoto Castle a few days ago. Kumamoto is a city in Kyushu island, the southern part of Japan. There is a castle in Kumamoto city, namely Kumamoto castle. Located in downtown of Kumamoto city, it was very easy to find Kumamoto castle. If you go to the Kumamoto city hall, just look in front of you. You will see a wall of Kumamoto castle. The wall was named after Naga-Bei. At the first time, I enjoy travelling to Kumamoto castle by my lovely bicycle.

A Brief History of Kumamoto Castle
The history of Kumamoto castle can be divided into three parts. The first one is the rule of Kato's with two generation in 44 years. The second is the rule of Hosokawa and the last is in the modern era. Below is the Kato's generation from year to year.
  • 1588 : Lord Kato Kiyomasa, the daimyo ruler of northern Higo Province with annual rice yield of 195,000 koku moves into the old Kumamoto castle.
  • 1600 : Battle of Sekigahara was happened. Southern Higo Province was added to the Kiyomasa domain, yielding a total of 540,000 koku of rice.
  • 1601 : Kiyomasa began to build the present Kumamoto castle
  • 1607 : The new Kumamoto castle was completely built. A kanji character in Kumamoto's name was changed.
  • 1611 : Kiyomasa died from illness. His third son, namely Tadahiro, inherited the feudal lordship.
  • 1632 : The Karo clan was divested of its lordship and exiled to Shonai in Dewa province.

Kumamoto Castle Main Tower
The Hosokawa clan authorized Kumamoto castle in 11 generations or about 229 years. In that era some  events are occurred. Those can be listed below.
  • 1632 : Lord Hosokawa Tadetoshi moves to Kumamoto castle from Kokura in Buzen province. He replaced Kato's place.
  • 1637 : Revolt of Amakusa and Shimabara
  • 1640 : Revolt of Abe family. Miyamoto Musashi wrote “Gorin-no-sho”, a book on Samurai morals.
  • 1671 : Suizenji Jojuen was completed.
  • 1754 : Jishukan school for Hosokawa's retainer's son was opened.
  • 1871 : Feudal domain system was absolished and replaced with a modern government system including prefectures.
The modern era is time after 1871. From year to year, the Kumamoto in modern era can be summarized as below.
The Main Tower from backview
1876 : Revolt of Shinpuren
1877 : Seinan Rebellion. The main castle including the main tower was destroyed by fire for three days prior to the battle on February 19. The cause of the fire remains unknown.
1960 : The main tower was rebuilt
1998 : Restoration and improvement of the Kumamoto castle was started.
2005 : Iidamaru Five-Storied Tower was rebuilt
2008 : Honmaru Goten Palace O-hiroma Main Hall was rebuilt

Stair to Main Tower

Frontview of Kumamoto Main Castle

Castle from the Corner View

The beautiful of Castle before sunset

That's the story about the history of Kumamoto castle. Let's continue with the story about the travel to Kumamoto casle's main tower itself. From the gates (there are four gates available to main tower), you can choose your own 'course' to enjoy the travel in Kumamoto castle. There are three choices of courses for you or your group to reach the top of the castle. Here they are.

Otemon Course
Remark: The basic course starts from the main entrance of Kumamoto Castle
Entrance gate: Hohoate gate
Estimated time for walking : 60 – 90 minutes
Route : Minami or Nishi-ote Turret Gate → Hohoate Gate → Uto Turet → Kuragari Gate → Main Castle Tower → Hon-maru Goten Grand Hill
Ishigaki Course
Remark : Enjoy the original stone fences of Kumaoto Castle
Entrance Gate : Hazegata Gate or Sudoguchi Gate
Estimated time for walking : 90 -120 minutes
Route : Takenomaru → Niyo-no-Ishigaki → Uto Turret → Kuragari Gate → Main Castle Tower → Hon-maru Goten Grand Hall.
Yagura/Ishigaki Course
Remark : Enjoy the YAGURA turrets (important cultural properties) which were escaped from war and stone fences
Entrance Gate: Hazegata Gate or Sudoguchi Gate
Estimated time for walking: 100 – 130 minutes
Route : Takenomaru → Higashi-Juhachiken Turrets Groups → Niyo-no-Ishigaki → Iida-maru Five-Story Turret → Kuragari Gate → Hon-maru Goten Grand Hall

Check the available map below to track those routes.
Location of Kumamoto Castle
Kumamoto Castle Map

On my first visit, I use the third course as the gate was the first I met. The entrance gate is Sudoguchi gate and it needs around 100 minutes to completely reach the top main castle. In my case, I continued to walk to Hohoate gate to find different back way. Fortunately, we find a lot of wax in Nishidemaru Ground and it was very beautiful in the night. We entrance the Nishi-Ote Turret Gate and take a rest for a while in the park inside. Finally, we back via Miyuki Slope and again find so many beautiful wax in the river beside Naga-Bei wall. O ya, the ticket is free because we are the holder of welcome passport. If you don't have welcome passport you must pay 500 yen for adults and 200 yen for children (elementary and junior high school).
Castle and the Sakuran in Fall Season
Me, with Ninja in the Castle
Miyuki Slope with Sakura on both sides
Wait my next story about my adventure. Continue Here!
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