Kumamoto Castle (The Ginkgo Castle)
The present day Kumamoto Castle (or the precursor to it) was built in the beginning of the 17th century under Kato Kiyomasa. Construction probably commenced just shortly after the Battle of Sekigahara and lasted for around 6 years. After the death of Kato Kiyomasa the Kato clan was eventually divested and replaced by the Hosokawa.
With the construction of the castle Kato Kiyomasa also planted a Gingko tree, which nowadays serves as the name giver of the castle. This tree was burned down together with the area around the main towers and the Hon-Maru Goten three days before the Seinan Civil War (1877) – with the cause of fire still unknown. The tree regrew from a sprout from the ravaged trunk and the present main towers were rebuilt in the 1960ies to restore the castles exterior. The larger main tower is 6 stories with a basement and about 19 m high.
Akira Kurosawa’s last epic jidaigeki film Ran (1985) was shot in great parts in and around Kumamoto and in particular Kumamoto Castle. This film draws on King Lear and is set in the Sengoku period and essentially depicts humans in a world of chaos and mayhem, a world that is without gods and where man in the end is essentially alone.