Castles in Japan

_Kunamoto Castle B

I’ve just returned from Japan and would like to share some photographs of Kumamoto Castle with you. It is on the southern island of Kyushu and dates back to the times of Lord Tokugawa … the famous Shogun in the film of that name.

Japan and Europe have a lot in common. Unlike China. neither had a strong central authority in medieval times.  Power lay in the hands of feudal lords who controlled vast stretches of territory.  They went to war with one another and paid lip service to kings and emperors.

Technological skills were similar but building practices were different. Earthquakes are common in Japan and stone castles would soon be shaken down.  The solution was to build in wood and place the castle on a high stone platform made from irregular blocks that would (hopefully) settle back into their original positions after a big shake.

My first picture shows the main tower of Kumamoto Castle. It is 30-metres high which gives an idea of its massive scale.  The building is a 1960s reconstruction on the original stone platform.  The exterior was made using authentic materials and methods.  The interior was constructed using modern materials and houses a museum.

Kumamoto Castle A

An adjacent building was completed recently and is a faithful copy of the original. It houses the great hall and associated chambers.  The magnificent decorations, shown in the second photograph, are based on careful historical research and are judged correct down to the smallest detail.

Kumamoto Castle C

The third photograph shows security precautions against ninjas and other assassins. The fourth is of a room in a restored samurai house.  The samurai served their lord as soldiers and administrators and were drawn from the knightly classes, just as in Europe.

samurai house

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