Kumamoto Castle is one of the city's two major sites and is one of Japan's finest castles. The castle was commissioned by Kato Kiyomasa, a feudal lord who fought alongside Tokugawa Ieyasu at the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600. He was rewarded for his loyalty with an expanse of land that covers most of present day Kumamoto. The castle took seven years to complete, finishing in 1607.
The castle is martial in style which reflected Kato's brilliance as a military strategist and architect. The impregnable walls are concave in shape, known as mushagaeshi (warrior-overturn) in Japanese. It is said that this style reaches perfection at Kumamoto-jo. The castle's design also follows the natural topography of the land with an 8mi (13km) long wall and 49 turrets.
After 44 years of ownership, the castle passed to the Hosokawas who ruled until 1871. The castle was almost completely burned down during the Satsuma Rebellion of 1877 except for the Uto Turret. Restoration began in 1960 with 17 original wells and 13 turrets being resurrected.