Kumamoto is a large city, with 53,000 inhabitants, and one of the finest castles of old Japan. This castle used to boast sixteen towers, and was built in the 16th century by a famous general called Kato Kyomasa, whose work we had already seen in the keep at Nagoya. But only one of the towers and the ancient ramparts and gateway are now left, the rest of the castle being destroyed in the Satsuma rebellion against the present Government in 1877. The first morning after we arrived at Kumamoto the weather was too wet to allow of any sight-seeing, but in the afternoon it cleared up, and we soon made our way to the castle, and had a very interesting time there. We climbed to the top of the old tower, from which we had an extensive view of the surrounding country, and then walked round the ramparts, which in some places bore unmistakable marks of the great earthquake in 1889, and in others were spattered with lead from bullets fired in the siege of 1877. ...

Mr. Brandram knew the commandant of the castle, so we called at the officers’ quarters. The commandant was away from home, but the officer in charge received us with great courtesy, and by his orders we were ushered into the council room, and small cups of coffee, a novel and comparatively rare luxury in Japan, were served to us.

Japan As We Saw It (Bickersteth) (1893)