Matsumoto Castle

Locating in the city of Matsumoto, Nagano Japan, the Matsumoto Castle is one of the top 3 premier castles and one of the 5 castles designated as National Treasures in Japan. The other two popular premier castles are Kumamoto Castle which has been damaged by the earthquake in 2016 and Himeji Castle in Hyogo Japan.

While Himeji Castle (also called the “White Egret Castle”) features a brilliant white exterior and the roof that resembles a bird taking flight, Matsumoto Castle features a black exterior and a similar roof that looks like a crow spreading wings, hence also known as the “Crow Castle”. Many tourists interested in castles in Japan would visit both.

First built as a fort in the site in 1504, the site was turned into a castle with a Main Keep (or Main Tower), moats and some add on towers. It is a 5-storey traditional Japanese castle with 6 levels inside. The Main Tower and the side Tower was built at the same time for defense. The unique Tsukimi-yagura (moon-viewing room) connecting to the Main Tower was constructed in a later stage as an entertaining room. It is believed that the construction was completed in 1593-94. Matsumoto Castle was ruled by 23 lords of Matsumoto over 280 years and has never been attacked by invaders, hence remained pretty much intact.

The better known history was the fact that it was saved by the local residents during the Meiji Restoration in 1872 and underwent some restoration works to strengthen the structure, enabling us to see this amazing 400 years old castle today.

Matsumoto Castle 松本城
Soldiers wearing armour and a beautiful princess will come out and greet the visitors twice a day: 10:00 – 11:00 and 14:00 – 15:00. You may take photos with your own cameras.
Matsumoto Castle 松本城
As a flatland castle built during the Sengoku period (or the Warring State period), stones walls are part of the important defending structure. In Matsumoto Castle, there are 16 wooden logs with 30-40cm in diameter x 5 meters long supporting the stone walls of the main keep.
Matsumoto Castle 松本城
The wall of the second floor of the Main Tower. It is 29cm thick with mug and a rope called naru. This structure and thickness was good enough to protect the castle from matchlock.
Matsumoto Castle 松本城
The centuries old wooden structure is also one of the features of the Castle. You will see lots of wooden columns from the first to third level of the Main Tower. There were less on the fourth and fifth floors which were smaller in space.
Matsumoto Castle 松本城
Remember that the Main Tower is 5 storeys on the outside and 6 levels inside? The hidden floor is this third floor. It is also called the “Dark Floor”. There’s no window and cannot be seen from the outside. It was primarily used for storage of food, gunpowder and weapons. In case of war battles, this could be a good shelter.
Matsumoto Castle 松本城
There are quite a lot of weapons and gun displayed in the castle.
Matsumoto Castle 松本城
Amors equipped with a typical battle accessories are in display. This heavy set with swords and a matchlock weighs about 20kg.
Matsumoto Castle 松本城
The almost 4 meters high ceiling on the fourth floor, resulting in a very steep wooden staircase with an inclination of 61 degree. Ladies: don’t wear skirts if you intend to visit the castle. It is a very popular castle with a lot of visitors.
Matsumoto Castle 松本城
As you reach the top, you will have a panoramic view of Matsumoto city. The red bridge in the photo is the best location for take photos of the castle.
Matsumoto Castle 松本城
The small shooting window all angling downwards or dropping stones, shooting arrows and firing guns.
Tsukimi-yagura (moon-viewing room) 月見櫓(賞月樓)
The Tsukimi-yagura (moon-viewing room) in the castle complex offers an amazing view of the garden which was where the residence of the clans was.
Rickshaw at Matsumoto Castle 松本城人力車
You may get a rickshaw ride around Matsumoto Castle. It’s nice to go around the moat to get different views.

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