Matsumoto Castle

Matsumoto Castle

A black, moated castle with a wooden keep that’s the oldest in japan

Matsumoto is a city located in Nagano, Japan, and it is home to one of the most striking and historic sites in the region – the famous Matsumoto Castle. This medieval fortress, known as a National Treasure, is considered one of Japan’s premier historic castles and should not be missed by anyone passing through the Nagano area.

Matsumoto Castle is a black, moated castle with a wooden keep that is said to be the oldest in Japan. Its five-storey main tower, built in the late 16th century, is the oldest surviving castle tower in the nation. The castle is not only historically significant, but it is also aesthetically pleasing. With its wide moat, vermillion bridges, and original stonework, it provides a picturesque view that is backed by the stunning scenery of the Northern Alps.

To get to Matsumoto, there are several convenient transportation options available. The city is easily accessible via JR lines from Tokyo’s Shinjuku Station, Nagoya, and Nagano City. If you are coming from Shinjuku, you can catch a Super Azusa train bound for Matsumoto. From Nagano City and Nagoya, you can take the JR Shinano limited express train. Additionally, there is also a convenient bus service from Takayama in neighboring Gifu Prefecture. Once you arrive at Matsumoto Station, the castle is just a 15-minute walk north. Alternatively, you can take the colorful Town Sneaker bus, which will get you there in just five minutes.

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When you visit Matsumoto Castle, you have the opportunity to explore its grounds and experience the rich history that it holds. Entry to the outer grounds is free, and here you can witness the beauty of the castle’s moat, which is home to Japanese carp, also known as koi fish. The reflection of the illuminated castle in the moat at night is a gorgeous sight to behold. By day, you can also enjoy the presence of costumed ninja and samurai who roam the grounds, entertaining visitors and posing for photographs.

For a small fee, you can enter the castle’s inner grounds and climb the tower for a taste of history. The castle tower, which acted as a fort, also housed the nobility in a palace within its walls. Today, this area has been transformed into a pleasant garden where visitors can get an up-close view of the castle before going inside. Ascending the steep staircases through the castle’s original wooden interior is a unique experience that allows you to imagine the battles of old. The castle also features displays of medieval weaponry and armor, as well as openings for archers. From the top floor observation platform, you can enjoy a breathtaking view across the city to the Northern Alps.

In addition to exploring the castle, there are many other attractions to discover in Matsumoto. Within easy walking distance of the castle, you’ll find a host of pubs and restaurants on the quaint and quirky riverside Nawate pedestrian lane, which is often referred to as “Frog Street.” This area offers a unique dining and shopping experience with its distinct historical architecture. Another must-visit location is Nakamachi Street, known for its atmospheric ambiance and historical buildings.

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Throughout the year, Matsumoto Castle hosts various events and festivals that add to its charm. From Japanese taiko drumming in the summer to a soba noodle event in the fall and an ice-sculpture festival in the winter, there is always something exciting happening on the castle grounds. One of the most spectacular times to visit is in the spring when the hundreds of cherry trees in the area burst into bloom. The grounds come alive with blossom viewing parties, and the illuminated trees create a magical atmosphere at night.

Overall, a visit to Matsumoto Castle is an unforgettable experience that allows you to immerse yourself in the rich history and beauty of Japan. From the stunning architecture and scenic views to the lively events and festivals, there is something for everyone to enjoy. Whether you are a history enthusiast, a nature lover, or simply looking for a unique cultural experience, Matsumoto Castle should definitely be on your list of must-visit destinations in Japan.

Address And Maps Location:

4-4-1 Marunouchi, Matsumoto-shi, Nagano-ken

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