Matsumoto Castle

From Jcastle.info

Matsumoto1.jpg

History

Next to Himeji-jo, Matsumoto-jo is the next best extant castle main keep in Japan. Built by Ishikawa Kazumasa and his son Yasunaga in 1590, Matsumoto-jo is designated a National Treasure. After Hideyoshi took Odawara he stationed Ishikawa Kazumasa in Matsumoto to govern his eastern provinces. The history of Matsumoto-jo actually begins with a castle called Fukashi-jo which was built by Shimadachi Sadanaga in 1504. That castle was attacked and captured by Takeda Shingen in 1550.

Visit Notes

This was the first large castle and first original extant castle I ever visited. I was so impressed it sparked my future interest in castles.

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Castle Profile
English Name Matsumoto Castle
Japanese Name 松本城
Alternate Names Fukashi-jo
Founder Ishikawa Kazumasa
Year Founded 1590
Castle Type Flatland
Castle Condition Original main keep
Designations Top 100 Castles, has National Treasures, National Historic Site
Historical Period Edo Period
Main Keep Structure 5 levels, 6 stories
Artifacts tenshu, Inui Kotenshu, Watariyagura, Tsukimi Yagura, Tatsumi Tsukiyagura
Features main keep, gates, turrets, water moats, stone walls, walls
Visitor Information
Access Matsumoto Station, 15 minute walk
Visitor Information
Time Required
Website http://welcome.city.matsumoto.nagano.jp/contents03+index.id+3.htm
Location Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture
Coordinates 36° 14' 19", 137° 58' 8"
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Admin
Year Visited 1992, 2002, 2009, 2015
Visits August 1992; May 13, 2002; April 11, 2009
Added to Jcastle 1999


4.86
(57 votes)
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ARTHatamoto

25 months ago
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The beautiful multi-storey architecture of the Tenshu (main keep) is clearly the highlight of Matsumotojō and its size makes it the second greatest castle site after Himejijō. Collectively I probably spent about 6 hours at Matsumotojō, including walking around the moat to see the castle at night and waiting in a queue for an hour to enter the tenshukaku (castle tower)! Throughout the duration of my visit it rained a lot and it was most heavy whilst I was inside the tower. I took over an hour to see all of the tower and exhibitions within. Of five-tiers and six-storeys – one hidden floor, the Tenshu of Matsumotojō rises 30 meters on a tenshudai (platform) of Nozura-zumi (style) ishigaki (stonewalls). It is accessed via the Ōteguchi (main entrance) or Tsukimi-yagura (11m) (moon-viewing turret), which was a later extension of the tower. Two adjoining turrets give the tenshu its “L” shape: Inui-kotenshu (17m) in the northwest and Tatsumi-Tsukeyagura (15m). The hidden floor is the 3rd floor and is almost windowless, it is the safest place in the tower as it cannot be identified from outside. It is very dark. The top floor is the look-out and enshrines Nijūrokuya-shin, God of 26 Nights. On the night of January the 26th, 1618, a young soldier on duty saw the vision of a beautifully dressed woman approach. Handing over brocade bag, she said that if the Lord of the castle dedicated 500kg of rice to her on the 26th night of every month, she would protect the castle from all harm. Goddesses got to eat, I guess. Anyway, this tradition continues today. The castle tower, after all, has survived for over 400 years.The Tenshu was scheduled to be abolished after the Meiji Restoration but outcry from the public and influential figures saved it. By 1904 the tenshukaku was leaning dangerously at an angle, but was saved through a funding campaign which led to the “Meiji Restoration”… as in the restoration of the castle during the reign of Emperor Meiji, from 1903-1913. The Shōwa Restoration ran from 1950-1955. A smaller Heisei Restoration was carried out after earthquake damage in 2011. In 1990 Kuromon was reconstructed and in 2002 Taikomon followed. Apparently they want to expand the park by re-digging some of the old moats currently on residential land.
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SnoworionGunshi

27 months ago
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Visited on 14 October 2015. A magnificent specimen of a castle. I loved the interior of the castle and the views from atop the castle. From across the moat the castle looks beautiful and aside from Himeji, this has to be the next great site to visit for Japanese castle enthusiast looking for original specimens of the species.
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ARTHatamoto

28 months ago
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I spent collectively about 6 hours at this castle. Admittedly one of those was spent waiting in line just to enter the donjon!
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LidiamqPeasant

30 months ago
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A very beautiful castle very impressive structure. I went April 2015 but the trees weren't blossomed so it wasn't as spectacular as It seems.
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RaymondWHatamoto

39 months ago
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I visited this beautiful castle again, except this time it was at the height of the Japanese O-Bon holiday in mid-August. There is a reason that I had avoided visiting Matsumoto Castle during this holiday season in my previous visits. My wife and I got to the castle at around 9:30 (after taking a very early train from Kofu where we had stayed the previous two days). We had to wait 40 minutes before we could get inside the castle keep. People who came afterwards had to wait up to 2 hours. They had set up white tents with benches for roughly the first 200 people waiting. People further back in the queue had to stand. Roughly every 7 to 8 minutes, the staff would let another group of about 50 people into the castle keep. It's a great castle to visit, but if you go during the O-Bon holiday, you have to be patient if you plan to visit the castle keep.
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HikarisailorcatPeasant

40 months ago
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Really beautiful and historical castle. I enjoyed walking through the castle and castle grounds. Both times I went they also had people dressed up in traditional costume you can take photos with.
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Anonymous user #1

45 months ago
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I visited Matsumoto-jo with my 15-year old son last summer (June 2014). What a beautiful place! After almost 9 years in Japan, we were getting ready to return to the US, and we did several father/son trips including Matsumoto and Hikone. We had a great time!
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FurinkazanHatamoto

55 months ago
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Revisited this very beautiful site today. For me still the most beautiful castle of Japan. The works at the red bridge and at the eastern side of the honmaru are still being done. Otherwise the buildings are accessible. I made a tour with a english speaking guide. There were alot at the site and were really willing to make a tour. I had a great time with him and we learned some stuff from each other. My guide and the others were astonished by my knowledge of their history. They asked me if i could stay longer and be a guide for french- and dutch-speaking visitors, LOL. I asked about the goten. The city want to rebuild it, but like it was. On that purpose they asked people to provide them with photos and/or plans of the goten during the Edo-period. Unfortunately untill now nobody showed up.
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DiegoDeManilaAshigaru

56 months ago
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Visited 13 April 2013. Good timing as the sakura were still in bloom. As beautiful as I had hoped, although there was maintenance work in the vicinity of the famous red bridge which rather spoiled the view of the castle from that popular vantage point (the work's probably long done by now since my visit was last year, though I don't know for certain). I hope they eventually get around to restoring one or more of the palaces, perhaps starting with the Ninomaru Palace (just empty ground with the palace outline marked out so nothing to obstruct a rebuilding effort). I hope to return one day, hopefully with the moat clear and the red bridge all ready for a great shot with the castle behind.

http://withi...-april-2013/
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Kiddus i2003Gunshi

57 months ago
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My personal opinion , is that is the best castle in Japan. After seven trips to Japan I have visited it four times and I probably will get there this trip. Awe inspiring location.
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Anonymous user #1

63 months ago
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An especially nice time to visit Matsumoto Castle (the Black Castle) is early May when the Tsutsuji (Azaleas) are in bloom.

My photos here: http://dickh...m/p267276535
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Anonymous user #1

73 months ago
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I visited Matsumoto-jo for the first time this year, in October. The castle is incredible, and well worth the two hour train trip from Tokyo to see it. The roundtrip can easily be done in a day trip from Tokyo. The countryside along the way is fabulous as viewed from the train. I have visited Himeji-jo, Hikone-jo, and Nijo-jo castles, and this one is a very close second, to Himeji, in my opinion. The matchlock and firearm collection at Matsumoto-jo, and the book available for sale at the castle showing great photos of the collection is well worth the 2400 yen purchase price. Matsumoto-machi also has some nice antique shops near the castle selling items are very reasonable prices. A highly recommended must-see for those interested in Japanese castles and bushido history.
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BryanbaierPeasant

83 months ago
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This was the first original castle I visited. It's tied with Matsue in my mind for first place.
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BergaPeasant

83 months ago
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This is my favourite castle so far. Visiting at the start of Feb on a sunny winters day was great. No people, me and Kris had the place to ourselves.
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IwanderPeasant

85 months ago
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Black castle of Matsumoto
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Frank T.Gunshi

88 months ago
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The keep is very photogenic, but I prefer other sites with fewer visitors and more extensive moats and grounds. The park is very well maintained. There's just not so much to see compared to other sites.
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RaymondWHatamoto

89 months ago
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I made it to this castle again last week. This has to be one of the most photogenic castles that I have visited, but going in August is controlled madness particularly around the Obon period when many locals are on holiday. It’s a great castle to visit, and there are volunteer guides who speak English. Also, until 11 in the morning, they have a guy decked out in all the trappings of a samurai with whom you can take some photos. He had a couple of female helpers. I stayed at Toyoko Inn, so I was able to buy the discounted ticket for half price (300yen instead of 600yen). The Top 100 Castle stamp is in the little office next to the souvenir shop.
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RonSAshigaru

89 months ago
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Finally made it to Matsumoto after almost 30 years. The castle was worth the wait. The keep is truly magnificent. I must also add that we were greatly impressed by the staff and volunteers who were on hand to welcome, assist and inform visitors. We felt genuinely welcomed by them.
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RebolforcesAshigaru

92 months ago
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Fabulous looking castle. Got photo taken outside with guy in samurai amour and got to hold the swords. Also was interviewed by NHK for a castle special.
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UsagiAshigaru

96 months ago
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This a one of the best castles I have seen so far, the original construction makes the castle even more beautiful and interesting. The insides of the castle is equally as glorious as the outside and truly amazing to see in its original state. It is a definite must to see if you are interested in Japanese history and castles. I am glad one castle managed to survive in its original state.
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RaymondWHatamoto

98 months ago
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This castle is spectacular in autumn with a kaleidoscope of red, orange, and yellow leaves intermingling with the evergreen stuff. My previous two visits to the castle were in the summer, so the foliage was nowhere near as beautiful. Also, work was being done on the Moon-Viewing Turret at the time of my last visit, so it was completely covered in white scaffolding. This time round, I got to see the whole castle in all its splendour. I stayed at the Toyoko Inn in Matsumoto. They have a special offer for guests where you can buy the castle ticket (castle and city museum) for half price, 300yen. The regular price is 600yen.
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RaymondWHatamoto

112 months ago
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Forgot to mention in my comment below that there is some renovation work going on at the Moon Viewing Tower right now, so that part of the castle keep is covered in scaffolding and some white covers. Just perfect for taking photos...
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RaymondWHatamoto

112 months ago
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This is a brilliant and photogenic castle to visit. It is definitely one of the most beautiful castles in Japan because of its location right next to the moat and beautifully kept gardens. However, Himeji Castle is more impressive because it has most of its original turrets, gates, and white walls intact. Inside the souvenir shop on the honmaru grounds (inner bailey), you can pick a 52 page book about the history and design of Matsumoto Castle for 1,500yen. It’s all in English which is a huge bonus for those of us not fluent in Japanese. I visited this castle both in the morning on a weekday and afternoon on the weekend in early September. The weekday is definitely better as you don’t have to deal with the crowds in the castle keep.
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FurinkazanHatamoto

114 months ago
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This is the most beautiful castle i've visited so long, even better than Himejijo. I was there in april and the sakura were in full bloom. It is a very beautiful site.
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Anonymous user #1

130 months ago
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This castle is fantastic to go to. It has a wonderfully preserved Tenshu, as well as several other buildings, quite a few artifacts, and who could ask for a more beautiful setting than the Japanese Alps?