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Matsumoto Castle: Ninjas and Crows and Koi, Oh My!

As one of the oldest original castles in Japan, completed in the early 1590s, Matsumoto Castle is a star attraction in Nagano Prefecture. It sits proudly at the centre of town, with the spectacular backdrop of the Japanese Alps.

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Japan is a land of many castles—some 300 to be precise. Admittedly, they can begin to look quite similar after a time, so it’s worth knowing which ones hold particular importance.

Of the 300, only twelve castles retain their original keep; the rest have sadly fallen victim to war, natural disaster and modernisation. To narrow it down even further, only five of these original castles are designated National Treasures: Inuyama Castle, Hikone Castle, Himeji Castle, Matsue Castle and Matsumoto Castle.

As one of the oldest original castles in Japan, completed in the early 1590s, Matsumoto Castle is a star attraction in Nagano Prefecture. It sits proudly at the centre of town, with the spectacular backdrop of the Japanese Alps.

The iconic black and white tower is a marvel of Sengoku Period (Warring States Period) architecture and modern preservation techniques. Though it appears to have five stories, there is actually a secret sixth floor built in to disguise the number of troops inside. It’s a true one-of-a-kind.

Inside the Keep 

For a fee (700 yen for adults, 300 yen for children), you can enter the keep to admire its beautiful original wooden interior or peep out of the tiny windows that double as arrow and rock launching zones.

At this height, there are great views of the city and alps. Like many castles, there is also a museum within Matsumoto Castle. On the second floor, you can see artefacts like guns, armour and other weapons featured in the ‘teppo gura’ [gun exhibition].

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You’ll need to remove your shoes to enter the building and, while in there, be sure to watch your head on the low ceilings and tread carefully on the steep staircases. It seems people were a lot smaller 400 years ago!   

A swan preens inside the grounds
A swan preens inside the castle grounds

(You can read the rest of the article at this link. This article was first published by Team JJ on November 27, 2021. Check here for deeper and unique insights into visiting Japan, including wellness, travel, cuisine and more. Find us on Instagram and on Facebook.)

Author: Team JJ

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