Editor’s Note: in the days since this article was written, numerous earthquakes and aftershocks have struck, causing additional damage to the castle, and Kyushu as a whole. Earthquake resistant architecture obviously isn’t as simple as ceramic roof tiles being shaken to the ground. This article should be construed as highlighting an ancient method that architects tested in an earthquake-prone nation, rather than an modern usage of earthquake-resistant technology.
A powerful earthquake (M 6.5) rocked southern Japan on Thursday, with an even larger tremor (M 7.3) hitting on Friday. As of now the death toll is in the single digits with roughly 1000 reported injuries. Those numbers will likely rise but as of now it seems that the fluid situation could have been a lot worse. One of the more visually shocking images is the damaged Kumamoto-jo, a majestic castle dating back to 1467 and is a powerful symbol of the Kumamoto region.
Japan is a country that is susceptible to both powerful hurricanes, as well as earthquakes. The heavy tile roofing, known as kawara, were designed to help structures withstand strong winds from hurricanes by weighing down the house. Their weight also provided support against small tremors.
Perhaps Kumamoto Castle has ancient wisdom to thank for still standing. And of course it’s concrete reconstruction added in 1960 😉