Matsumoto Castle

Matsumoto Castle

Matsumoto Castle is a stunning historical landmark located in the Nagano Prefecture of Japan. It is one of the few remaining original castles in Japan and is considered a national treasure. The castle is also known as the “Crow Castle” due to its black exterior, which makes it stand out among other castles in Japan.

Matsumoto Castle Nagano

Matsumoto Castle was built in the 16th century and is a hirajiro, which means it was built on plains rather than on a hill or mountain. This makes it unique among Japanese castles. The castle features both a secondary donjon and a turret, which are not commonly found in other castles in Japan. Visitors can explore the castle’s six floors, which include exhibits showcasing the castle’s history and artifacts from the Edo period.


Matsumoto Castle is a historic castle located in Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture, Japan. The castle’s origins date back to the Sengoku period, when a fortification was built at this location by the shugō of Shinano Province, Shimadachi Sadanaga, in 1504. The castle was originally called Fukashi Castle and was built as a stronghold for the Sakanishi clan, who ruled the Fukashi village during the Muromachi period.

In 1580, the castle was taken over by the powerful warlord, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who gave it to Ishikawa Kazumasa. Later, the castle was acquired by the powerful daimyō, Tokugawa Ieyasu, who gave it to his trusted vassal, Ishikawa Sadamoto. The Ishikawa clan ruled the castle for over 200 years until the Meiji Restoration in 1868, when the castle was decommissioned and turned over to the government.

During the Edo period, Matsumoto Castle was an important center of political and cultural activity, and it played a significant role in the region’s history. The castle was also an important military stronghold, and it was built to withstand attacks from enemy forces. The castle’s design is unique, and it features a black exterior, which is why it is also known as the “Crow Castle.”

Today, Matsumoto Castle is a popular tourist destination, and it has been designated as a National Treasure of Japan. Visitors can explore the castle’s various buildings and structures, including the main keep, the castle walls, and the various gates and towers. The castle also houses a museum, which features exhibits on the castle’s history and the region’s culture and traditions.


Matsumoto Castle

Matsumoto Castle is a stunning example of traditional Japanese architecture. The castle’s black and white exterior is made of wood and plaster, and the castle’s design is unique in that it has six floors and is built on a flat plain rather than a hill or mountain. The castle’s main tower, or donjon, is 30 meters tall and is surrounded by smaller buildings and walls.

One of the most impressive features of Matsumoto Castle is its intricate roof design. The castle’s roof is adorned with hundreds of irimoya, or fish-scale, tiles, which are arranged in a unique pattern that is specific to each section of the roof. The roof also features a series of roof hooks, which were used to protect the castle from attackers by allowing defenders to hang stones and other projectiles over the walls.

The interior of Matsumoto Castle is equally impressive, with each floor featuring different rooms and displays that showcase the castle’s rich history and culture. Visitors can explore the castle’s various levels, including the top floor, which offers breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and landscape.

Visiting Matsumoto Castle

Matsumoto Castle is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Matsumoto, and for good reason. It is the oldest castle with a five-storey main keep that remains standing today, making it a truly historic spot. Here are a few things to keep in mind when visiting Matsumoto Castle:

  • Business Hours: Matsumoto Castle is open from 8:30 to 17:00, and the entrance closes at 16:30. It is closed from December 29-31.
  • Admission Price: The admission fee for both the castle and the Matsumoto City Museum is ¥700 for adults.
  • Getting There: Matsumoto Castle is a 15-minute walk from Matsumoto Station. Alternatively, you can take the Town Sneaker Bus and get off at the Matsumotojo, Shiyakushomae (city hall) bus stop.

Once you arrive at the castle, you can explore the grounds and take in the impressive architecture. You can also climb to the top of the castle’s main keep for a stunning view of the surrounding area.

It’s worth noting that the castle can get quite busy, especially during peak tourist season. If you want to avoid the crowds, consider visiting earlier in the day or during the off-season.

Overall, Matsumoto Castle is a must-see attraction for anyone visiting Matsumoto. Its rich history and stunning architecture make it a truly unforgettable experience.

Interesting Facts

Matsumoto Castle is not only one of the oldest castles in Japan, but it also has a lot of interesting facts that make it unique. Here are a few:

  • Matsumoto Castle is sometimes referred to as the “Crow Castle” because of its black exterior and the shape of the roof, which resembles a crow spreading its wings.
  • The castle is built on a small hill, which was a strategic location for defending against enemies.
  • Matsumoto Castle is the oldest castle in Japan that has a donjon (main tower) that still exists today. The donjon was built in the late 16th century.
  • The castle has a unique feature called the “moon viewing room” (tsukimi yagura), which is a small room with a balcony that was used for viewing the moon during autumn festivals.
  • Matsumoto Castle has a curse associated with it. According to legend, a daimyo (feudal lord) named Tadakiyo Ogasawara was forced to commit seppuku (ritual suicide) after he failed to complete the castle’s construction on time. It is said that his ghost haunts the castle to this day.
  • The castle has also been featured in several movies, including the James Bond film “You Only Live Twice” and the Japanese film “Ran.”

Overall, Matsumoto Castle is a fascinating piece of history that has a lot of unique features and interesting stories associated with it.