Matsumoto Castle (Crow Castle)
Matsumoto Castle is Japan’s second oldest castle. The beautifully preserved black main tower is a National Treasure of Japan, a five-layered tower that actually contains six floors. What makes this gorgeous castle even more unique is that it has four well-preserved turrets, each of which is a National Treasure.
Matsumoto Castle was built bythe Daimyo Ishikawa Kazumasa (1534 – 1609) and his son Yasunaga. The construction began in the 1580´s and was finalized in 1590. But already in 1504 had a fort been built on the site. As Matsumoto castle is built on a plain it counts as a flatland castle (hirajiro). A large moat and ingenious inter-connecting walls constituted the principal defence.
The castle is one of Japan's three premier castles. The other two are Himeji Castle and Kumamoto Castle.
The castle has a great collection of matchlocks, firearms, weapons and armours, mainly from the Warring-States/Sengoku period (1467-1568). From the top floors you have an impressing view of the Japanese Alps.
You can take a Limited Express Train from Shinjuku Station. The trip will take 2 ½ to 3 hours.
From JR Matsumoto Station the castle is a 15 minute walk or a 5 minute bus ride on the "Town Sneaker" Northern Course bus loop line
Text and photo: Leif Almo