"Warning: No trespassing due to earthquake damage," bears a sign at Kumamoto Castle, a popular tourist destination in the prefecture, while castle officials make rounds to prevent trespassers.

Strong earthquakes that hit the region last April not only destroyed homes, schools and offices but also cultural properties such as Kumamoto Castle, which was built in 1607 and attracts about 1.7 million tourists a year.

It was the first time the castle had been seriously damaged since it was burned down during the Satsuma Rebellion in 1877.