Photographs Matsumoto Castle

A rare survivor

Matsumoto castle is one of twelve castles in Japan that still retains the keep dating from the late sixteenth / early seventeenth century, and as such, it is designated a National Treasure. The castle possesses a 5-storey castle keep, which is called tenshukaku in Japanese. As can be seen from in the picture, there are 5 floors visible to the exterior, but there are 6 floors inside.

Despite its beauty, and historical importance, Matusmoto Castle has not always been appreciated and valued as it is today. The castle was sold off and nearly demolished after the Meiji Restoration, a fate that befell on a number of castles in Japan. Fortunately, the locals bought it back and the castle was preserved. The city of Matsumoto had other names, and among them was Fukashi, so the castle is also known as Fukashi Castle. It is also called Karasu-jō or the Crow Castle, because of its colour.

The castle is open to visitors, but you need to be in a reasonably good physical shape, since the interior dates from the time of the construction. Some of the stairs are very steep, and narrow. Unfortunately, there is no access for those with reduced mobility. When we visited the castle, it was extremely cold, since there is no heating system inside the castle. However, it is definitely worth a visit, because it is a beautiful castle, and perhaps you can imagine yourself in the world of the samurai warriors.


Matsumoto is a city in Nagano Prefecture in central Japan, situated about 3 hours away from central Tokyo by express train, and the castle is about 15 to 20 minutes on foot from the station (Matsumoto). It is therefore a potential destination for a day trip from Tokyo.

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