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Kumamoto Castle pictures pt 1

ok, I just checked and I have way more good castle shots then I thought... I gotta split it into two groups... ninja and non-ninja... and I really should put these up before the ninja ones... :-P

So last saturday I took Junko to see Kumamoto castle. Its about 70 minutes to Kumamoto by high speed train (it'll be quicker once the new bullet train service opens in a year or two). We took the Tsubame, my favorite train in Japan last year when I was here.

This is the regular car, the reserved seat cars are nicer.

Color scheme is all silver with black grey and red accents. ;-)

I actually have pictures of both my Tsubame ride and my trip to the castle from summer '03 right here (with a lot of the VERY similar pictures actually...) :-P

Before you get to the castle grounds, you are greated by this statue... of Kiyomasa Kato.

Who is he you might ask? The answer is...

OK, so why is his statue in front of the castle? Again, Etchy's blog doesn't leave you hanging:

And I even got a nice shot of the isometric drawing of the original layout.

Here's a view from the front entrance. It has a zig-zag path up to the top, which allows lots of opportunities for people to drop stuff on you along the way.

As you can see, there is a big reconstruction project underway near the main castle building. The Castle was destroyed during the Seinan rebellion in 1877 (which you may know as the story of ... except w/o Tom Cruise). So they haven't rebuilt all of the various buildings there, but since the 400th anniversary of the completion of the original (final version of the) castle is coming up, they're trying to get another major part done in time.

Despite being the middle of February, there were actually some flowers blossoming. In this case a plum tree?

Here's the main building. As you can see, Japanese castles like the curved walls, makes it harder to scale with ladders and easier to pick off people at the base of the wall.

Last time I came, it seemed that several of the auxillary buildings weren't open. But this time they were, and they were actually more interesting then the main building, which has a museum inside. These other buildings are rebuilt with original interiors. This one had several giant tatami rooms for holding ceremonies in.

And on the exterior sides, it had ports built in the wall for defense. (they had two versions, one for guns and one for archers).

Here's a shot of the outside of the building, you can see the gun ports and what not. also on the corners, the building extends out over the wall and there's a door so you can drop rocks straight down onto anyone trying to climb up (i imagine corners are a weakpoint for the archers and rifle guys)

A view down to the next level where the trees are blooming.

Here's a view from the front of the main castle building. I think the original building might have actually been bigger, this one was rebuilt in the 60s... oh wait, what are those mysterious figures doing out in front of the castle?

Inside the main building they have a lot of original artifacts and displays about fuedal history in Kyushu. Here's some armor from Kato's clan (i'm pretty sure). The symbol on the helmet is his family's symbol.

A view from the top. You can see the reconstruction underway. I bet you they would have loved having a crane like that back in 1605! :-P

Kumamoto's not such a big city, as you can see...

From the secondary tower (seen in the previous picture from the main building), I got this nice shot of the main building during the brief seconds the sun actually came out! :-)

Some one let this crazed heroin addict into the castle and he got way too into my personal space...

This is the outer wall, down to what used to be the main moat. You can't tell in this picture, but there's actually a drop-off after that first ledge of grass....

But this picture shows it better, take a look from here. (also you can see the corner rock dropping things clearly here at the corner). Quite a pain climbing up there, ninja claws or not.

Last but not least, some more statues:

I don't remember who these guys were...

This guy was the one who lead the garrison that defended the castle against the rebelling Samurai guys in the civil war.

Anyway... tomorrow I will show the REST...

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