Take a look at how one of Japan’s most popular castles is making its comeback. 

Nearly four years ago, the southwestern reaches of Japan were struck by a series of strong earthquakes that shook the region of Kumamoto. Roads and buildings cracked and crumbled, and the shaking even moved parts of the earth by as much as one meterSome of Japan’s oldest architecture was destroyed as a result.

One of the most important monuments of the area, Kumamoto Castle, was badly damaged by the earthquake. Previously one of Japan’s oldest original castles, Kumamoto Castle lost much of its roof tiles, roof statues, and stone walls and foundations, though it thankfully managed to keep most of its centuries-old structures standing.

Luckily, as you can see from the above video, reconstruction efforts are well under way! Since the earthquakes, much of the castle complex has been closed off to visitors, but countless fundraising efforts by nonprofit and for-profit organizations have funded a 60 billion yen (more than 500 million USD) project to have the castle restored to its original glory, and it’s almost there! You can watch the progress with this neat time-lapse video of the castle’s reconstruction.

The video shows a series of photos of Kumamoto Castle taken from the same angle over nearly four years, from June 14, 2016 to February 11, 2020. It was shared by the official Twitter account for the Kumamoto Castle Revival Project Exhibition, who are also behind the miniature Kumamoto Castle model, and who have been diligently recording the progress of the castle’s reconstruction.

For comparison, take a look at the castle from before construction began, after the earthquake. The roofs were sparse, with countless tiles missing, and the castle looks a little rough compared to what it used to be.

Afterwards the building was so covered with scaffolding that the whole thing almost looked like a giant transformer, especially in the video as the scaffolds move up and down with the progress of the reconstruction. It may have been hard to appreciate the real beauty of the castle with all of the construction in the way. But in the video, behind all the steel layers, you can see that the broken towers and crumbling roofs were methodically being taken down and rebuilt.

Now take a look at the last photo, taken just last week, which shows the upper parts of the castle looking almost as it did before. With shiny new roof tiles in place, much of the scaffolding removed, and the final panes of the windows installed, the castle looks almost fully restored, standing proudly against the backdrop of the sky.

Though there is still much work to be done on Kumamoto Castle, the structure is slowly being unveiled and re-opened to the public in stages. In the first stage, held in October last year, a portion of the grounds around the main building, known as Tenshukaku, re-opened, and though the building itself remains closed, visitors can walk around it and learn about the construction efforts.

The grounds are currently only open on Sundays and holidays, when there is no construction actively going on, but starting on April 29, Stage 2 will open another path up and visitors will be allowed to enter the grounds on weekdays as well. The new walking path will have an up-close view of the castle and its reconstruction efforts, allowing visitors a better look than the first stage.

Officials expect Tenshukaku itself, which is generally the main attraction at Kumamoto Castle, to re-open again in the Spring of 2021, once the reconstruction is completed, so castle fans will hopefully be able to visit this iconic landmark next year. Then if all goes well, we’ll see one of the top three castles in the country completely restored to its original glory in the next few years!

Source: Twitter/@tenshu_saigen via Japaaan, Kumamoto Castle Official Website
Top image: YouTube/Kumamoto-shi Kanko Guide
Insert Images: Twitter/@tenshu_saigen

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