The towering, ominous castle was completed in 1607, having been designed and built by Kiyomasa Kato (1562–1611), the area's feudal lord or daimyo. Gracefully curved, white-edged roofs rest atop the mysterious black keep. Look for slanted windows perfect for unleashing rock falls, one of many clever features to prevent intrusion. The top floor of the reconstructed castle commands an excellent view of Kumamoto, and exhibits include samurai weapons and armor arrayed
to evoke images of the fearless warriors charging into battle. To get here, board Streetcar 2, get off at the Kumamoto-jo-mae stop, and walk up the tree-lined slope. Volunteer guides conduct tours in English.