The History of Kumamoto Castle


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The present Kumamoto Castle 熊本城 was built by Lord Kato Kiyomasa 加藤 清正 , the 大名 daimyo of Northern Higo domain.

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Work on the current Kumamoto castle began in the year 1601, thirteen years after Kato Kiyomasa 加藤 清正 moved his residence to Kumamoto 熊本  in 1588.

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The arrival of Lord Kato Kiyomasa 加藤 清正 was such an important event for the region that 熊本城稲荷神社 Kumamoto-jo Inari Shrine was built to commemorate this occasion, and to extend protection to Kumamoto Castle.

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Statue of Lord Kato Kiyomasa 加藤 清正 , outside the castle grounds, by the Tsuboi river in spring time.

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The new Kumamoto Castle 熊本城 was finalized in 1607, six years after work on it had begun.

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Map of Kumamoto Castle 熊本城 during the Edo period 江戸時代 (1603-1868).

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The Battle of Sekigahara took place in 1600.  It was at the conclusion of this Battle when Southern Higo domain also came under the rule of Kato Kiyomasa 加藤 清正 , thus expanding his fiefdom and power.

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 This citadel is often referred to as the new Kumamoto Castle as the old citadel, Chiba Castle, was already in existence at the time that Kato Kiyomasa 加藤 清正 arrived to settle here.

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A re-enactment of Japan in ancient times with Lord Kato Kiyomasa 加藤 清正 moving through the citadel.  He is depicted on the right hand-side in the above photo.

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Soldier and samurai, Shobayashi Hayato 庄林隼人, accompanying Lord Kato Kiyomasa 加藤 清正 .

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Lord Kato Kiyomasa 加藤 清正 had two daughters.  His eldest daughter is known as Ama Hime or Princess Ama.  She is pictured on the left in the above photo.

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島 津義宏 Shimazu Yoshihiro was a skilled general and contributed greatly to the unification of Kyushu.  Known also for his compassion as a Buddhist monk, he built a monument for his enemies during the Seven-Year War.

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島津義宏 Shimazu Yoshihiro inspired extreme loyalty that when he died, his retainers followed him and committed suicide.

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In 1611, Kato Kiyomasa 加藤 清正 passed away due to illness and in doing so, passed the feudal lordship onto his third son, Tadahiro.

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The Kato 加藤 clan ruled Kumamoto for a duration of forty-four years, over two generations.

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Today Kato Kiyomasa 加藤 清正 is often referred to as the ancestor of Kumamoto 熊本.  It is recognized that it was from the time of Kato Kiyomasa’s rule and leadership that Kumamoto began to prosper.

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 Kuragari-gomon, the passageway under the ground of the citadel.

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Kumamoto Castle is recognised as the third most beautiful castle in Japan, after Himeiji and Mastumoto castles.

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The citadel in springtime is truly magnificent.

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The stone wall which encloses the citadel is its own spectacular vision in beauty and balance.

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Map of 熊本城 Kumamoto Castle and citadel as it stands today.

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See 熊本城 Kumamoto Castle in black-and-white.

 

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