Matsumoto Castle is one of five castles designated as ‘National Treasures of Japan’ and the oldest castle donjon remaining in Japan. Construction began in 1592 of the elegant black and white structure with its three turrets. Because of the elegant black walls, Matsumoto Castle is sometimes called ‘Crow Castle’. Inside the castle are steep stairs and low ceilings leading past displays of armor and weapons from the Sengoku Period (Warring States Period) when the castle was built. The narrow wooden windows, once used by archers and gunmen, provide amazing views of the Japanese Alps, Matsumoto City and the koi and swans circling in the moat below.
You might wait for a maximum of two hours to enter the castle tower during the peak season of late April – early May Golden Week and mid August summer vacation (obon) holidays. In such cases, numbered tickets are sometimes issued and you can come later with your ticket to enter the tower quicker.
The castle is beautifully illuminated in the evening.
Every summer Taiko Drum Festival and a Takigi Noh (a play performed by torch light) festivals are held at the site which is also famous for its cherry blossoms in April. A Moon Viewing Party is held every autumn on the grounds in the specially built moon viewing room of the Castle. It is said, that “the moon can be seen three times from the moon viewing room”. Once in the sky, once in the water below and once in your cup of sake (but six if the sake is strong).
There are free English language brochures and Good Will Guides provide interesting facts and legions.
See also the following: