Kumamoto: Quake-hit Kumamoto Castle to Open Next Spring

The Yomiuri Shimbun
The large keep of Kumamoto Castle is seen lit up on Nov.16.

KUMAMOTO — Kumamoto Castle, which was damaged in an earthquake, has largely completed restoration of its main and smaller keeps, with the city government planning to open its interior to the public from April 26 next year as a “symbol of reconstruction.”

The castle has a large keep with six floors above ground and one basement floor. It also has a small keep with four floors above ground and one basement floor. These were heavily damaged by the earthquake, with roof tiles and stone walls collapsing and cracks along the walls and floors.

The restoration work involves increasing the buildings’ earthquake resistance, which includes using such materials as lightweight tiles. An elevator and ramps for the disabled and elderly have also been installed in the large keep.

Additional upgrades include an observation deck on the top floor of the tower, made of wood from cypress trees from Kumamoto Prefecture, where visitors can see as far as Mt. Aso.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
The inside of the large keep of Kumamoto Castle is seen when it was opened to the press in September.

Since Nov. 20, the grounds of Kumamoto Castle have been open to the public at night for the first time since the disaster. This special event will continue through Dec. 6 — with the castle towers and trees illuminated with red and yellow LED lights that create a magical atmosphere.

The restoration of the castle’s long stone wall, a government-designated important cultural asset, is almost complete. Following the removal of scaffolding that surrounded it, visitors can now view the nearly restored structure.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
A part of the long wall is seen after scaffolding was dismantied.

The historic wall is about 240 meters long and about 2.4 meters high. It is located on the south side of Kumamoto Castle and stretches straight along the Tsuboi River. In the earthquake, about 80 meters collapsed.

The Kumamoto city government began restoration work on the wall, which includes reusing its roof tiles and timber, in February last year. The work will be completed in January next year.