Failure of Historic Kumamoto Castle Walls

April 21, 2016 by  
Filed under Geotechnical Structures

by Patrick Bassal

Damage to Kumamoto Castle caused by an earthquake is seen in Kumamoto. REUTERS/Kyodo

Damage to Kumamoto Castle caused by an earthquake is seen in Kumamoto. REUTERS/Kyodo

Retaining walls surrounding the foundations of the historic Kumamoto Castle appear to have taken considerable damage during the recent series of earthquakes affecting the region (Reuters). The majority of the castle complex was built in the 1600’s and has since withstood years of bombardment, including artillery fire in 1877 during the Satsuma Rebellion. The castle’s main towers were reconstructed in the 1960’s and various other restorations have taken place during the past decade, although it is unlikely that the foundation walls have been rehabilitated.

The curved dry stone retaining walls, known as musha-gaeshi, were originally designed with the purpose of preventing invaders from reaching the castle structures supported above. These walls have withstood the test of time until now. During reconnaissance efforts it will be of interest to investigate this failure further and note the distribution and consequent effects of the damage.

A damaged stone wall caused by an earthquake is seen at the Kumamoto Castle in Kumamoto. REUTERS/Kyodo

A damaged stone wall caused by an earthquake is seen at the Kumamoto Castle in Kumamoto. REUTERS/Kyodo

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