Translated by Jasmine Nishino
Matsumoto Castle In Nagano - Explore The ”Crow Castle”!
Written by Yaspon
Matsumoto Castle in Nagano was constructed around the seventeenth century. It is the oldest six story high, five layered pagoda-style castle in Japan. This article features its highlights and information on how to access the castle.
Structure and Highlights of Matsumoto Castle
The Structure of Matsumoto Castle
1: Daitenshu, 2: Inui Kotenshu, 3: Watari Yagura, 4: Tatsumi Tsukeyagura, 5: Tsukimi Yagura
The main tower of Matsumoto Castle is a collection of different structures and is built in what is called the rengo fukugoshiki architectural style.
The group of tenshu consists of the Daitenshu (1) with the largest structure connected with the Inui Kotenshu (2) on the right side of the Daitenshu. The Daitenshu and the Inui Kotenshu are then connected by the Watari Yagura (3).
On the left-hand side, you will find the Tatsumi Tsukeyagura (4) and Tsukimi Yagura (5), which are two defensive towers used to protect the castle from attacks.
Highlights of Matsumoto Castle: The Daitenshu
The main highlight of Matsumoto Castle is the Daitenshu. From the outside, it looks like a five-story castle, but the inside actually consists of six floors. The third floor that cannot be seen from the outside was said to be the safest place to hide during battles.
The view from the tenshu.
On the stairs leading from the fifth to the sixth floor is a platform where you can see the castle from the surrounding windows. During the time of battle, it is likely that this floor was the place where the senior vassals would plot strategies while watching the battle conditions from above. Outside, the top floor is surrounded by a hallway where you can get a great view of the surroundings.
Events Held at Matsumoto Castle (2017)
Cherry blossoms by the moat.
April: Evening Cherry Blossoms
During this time, you can watch the cherry blossoms and the castle being lit up at night.
April: Ura Senke Tankokai Shunki Chakai (Spring Season Tea Ceremony Held by the Ura Senke)
For 500 yen per seat, you may join a tea ceremony outdoors. In addition to that, there is a traditional gun firing exhibit recreating the historical warriors of Matsumoto as well as ikebana flower arranging. A tea ceremony is also held in May.
July: Taiko Drum Festival
Within the castle grounds, you can enjoy an energetic performance with Japanese drums. It is a free show that is held on the July 29th-30th weekend in 2017, from 17:30-21:00.
August: Maki Noh
After sundown, a traditional Noh performance is shown on a stage that is lit by simple wood fires. Watch this unique performance that is shown for free on August 8th (Tuesday), 2017 from 17:30-20:30. Please note that this show is subject to cancellation due to rain or other weather conditions.
October: Shinshu Soba Festival
Famous soba noodle shops from all over Nagano gather at the castle grounds along with local shops. Aside from the tenshu, you may enter to enjoy shopping and tasting Nagano delicacies at this time! This event will be held on October 7th-9th (Saturday to Monday), 2017 from 10:00-16:00.
October: Historical Gun Technique Performance
Along with the historical Matsumoto Castle gun troop, you will be able to see various gun techniques of old Japan in this amazing performance. This show will be held on October 15th (Sunday) from 13:30-15:00. This performance is also weather-permitting.
Matsumoto Castle Hospitality Troupe
Every day from 9:00-16:00, you will find members of the hospitality troupe dressed up as ninjas, princesses, and samurai around the gardens of Matsumoto Castle. If you spot them, why not take a photo with them?
Tourist Spots Around Matsumoto Castle
Matsumoto city is the castle town of Matsumoto Castle. This city managed to avoid the raids during World War II, so there are many historical buildings still standing today.
One of the oldest elementary schools in Japan is the Kyu Kaichi Gakko. This building is known for its mix of Japanese and Western architectural design.
Another retro site to see is the Former Catholic Church Priest's House that was constructed by Father Clément from France in 1889. For those looking for a place to relax, the Agata Forest Park is a local hangout spot for citizens in Matsumoto. Within the park, you will also find the Former Matsumoto High School that was constructed in 1919. The historical structure has a nostalgic feeling from the Taisho period.
Matsumoto city is a perfect place for those who wish to immerse themselves in Japanese history.
** Travel times and expenses are based on publicly available information and are current as of May 2017. They may be subject to change.