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Damaged by the April 2016 Earthquakes
Kumamoto Castle is about 400 years old and parts of the building were already reconstructed, like most of the castles in Japan, but recently it's stone walls were damaged by earthquakes. Visitors aren't allowed inside or near the buildings while repairs are being done, which might take decades, according to this article: http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/05/20/national/quake-damaged-kumamoto-castle-take-decades-restore/#.V-5VxfB97IU.
It's still possible to walk around the castle and gift shops are still open, hoping to collect more funds to complete the difficult repairs. You can find plenty of photos online, in the current condition and original condition. This place has historical importance but is also not bad to look at, especially during spring when the sakura are blooming.
I visited again recently and it was really sad to see the castle in that condition. Gates block entry to the grounds, although the best view now is from the nearby Kato Shrine (named after the ruler at the time the castle was built). There are still plenty of visitors, and it's possible to see the damaged buildings and repairs which have already started. We saw the stones from foundation walls lined up to be cataloged in preparation for rebuilding. Some of the structures look like they are barely hanging on and will need to be disassembled before the foundations are rebuilt.
Four years ago, I got the chance to visit a friend living in Kumamoto, and we went to see the castle. We paid to go inside and have a look, which was worth it. There's an amazing view from the top of the main tower. The Honmaru Goten Palace was amazing and shiny. I'm glad I had the chance to see it then, as it's not likely I'll be able to see it in it's complete form again, at least not for a long time.
The souvenir shop sold unique items like basashi jerky. Basashi is a local specialty food which is basically horse meat sashimi. (Yes I ate basashi, and yes, it was good.) So they had horse meat jerky there, and it makes a good souvenir. It will probably freak out a lot of people, but some people like eating unique foods.
Kumamoto-jyo Shiyakusho mae station is near the castle entrance, but JR Kumomoto Station on Kagoshima Honsen is within walking distance and the city streetcar has nearby stations, if you feel like a nice walk around the neighborhood.