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Kumamoto Castle, also known as Ginnan Castle (ginkgo castle) is regarded as one of the 3 best castles in Japan. It is famous for the magnificent cherry trees in its grounds. In the 6th year of the Keicho Era (1601), a senior commander Kiyomasa Kato expanded the fortification. The expansion was completed 7 years later. The original area of the fortification was approximately 980,000 square meters and the length of its perimeter was approximately 9 kilometers. The castle design is dynamic and gorgeous. It has 3 castle keeps, 49 turrets, 18 turret gates and 29 smaller gates. Its beautiful curved lines are the result of utilization of the natural topography using unique construction technology. During the Satsuma Rebellion in the 10th year of the Meiji Era (1877), the castle was besieged by the Satsuma clan for over 50 days, led by Takamori Saigo. The castle and its occupants survived despite some buildings being destroyed by fire, showing the castle’s impregnability. In 2007, the castle marked the 400 year anniversary of its construction. In April 2008, the “Honmaru Goten Large Hall” was completed, which was the most important project of the Kumamoto Castle restoration and maintenance plan. Today, the reconstructed resident’s area of the clan including the living room, the large hall (meeting room) and the kitchen, etc is open to the public. It originally had 53 rooms, however 25 of them are still undergoing work The castle is being restored on the basis of pictures, literatures and old photographs from the Meiji Era, etc. Its shohekiga (paintings on room partitions), ceiling pictures and other decorative ornaments make for a gorgeous and luxurious atmosphere, which would be in tune with the original character of the castle.
History and heritage