I’m a local guide who was born and raised in Kumamoto, which is located on Kyushu island in the southwest of Japan. In April 2016, a big earthquake of magnitude 7.0 hit my hometown and Kumamoto Castle was destroyed completely by the earthquake. At this moment, renovations are carried out, but let’s go back to the day after it happened.
The Morning After
The next morning, I could not believe my eyes when I saw the image of a horribly damaged Kumamoto Castle on the TV news. The stone walls that were well-known for their solid- construction had collapsed in many parts of the castle, and the roof tiles of the main keep had fallen off. It made the castle look like a defeated samurai in historical dramas.
In my childhood, during my school days, I used to visit there at every opportunity. I grew up taking for granted that “he” would always be there, like a father. So, it was really painful to accept what had happened in my hometown. The most shocking but impressive scenery was that of the Iidamaru Gokaiyagura, the five-storied guard tower that was on the verge of collapse. It was barely being supported by ONLY 8 cornerstones, but it still avoided collapse! I’m sure that all the people in Kumamoto were inspired by “his” dignified appearance, enduring the pain desperately but silently…
Onward and Upward
Several years have now passed since the reconstruction project was launched by Obayashi corporation, which has all the necessary know-how for castle rebuilding since it undertook the reconstruction project of the main keep in 1960.
Now, the scaffolding that was covering the main keep has been removed; the reborn donjon standing proudly can finally be seen again. It is beautiful!
Subsequently, the second keep is now being restored. If you would visit Kumamoto now, you can see how the scaffolded castle building resembles a robot hero. And observing how the carpenters are working might be also interesting and an only-now experience! I would strongly recommend you to visit if you have the chance.
It is said that it’ll take another 20 years to complete the restoration work for the whole building. They also say that it will cost a total of 60,000,000,000 yen! Now they are asking for donations, and if you donate 10,000 yen or more your name will be registered as one of the ‘Lords of Kumamoto castle’! I of course donated 10,000 yen and became a “Lord“ worth… maybe a piece of stone wall?
You cannot enter the castle at the moment, but you can see the process of restoration from up close.
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