The Japan Alps and the North Chubu Coast Travel Guide

The Japan Alps and the North Chubu Coast Sights

Matsumoto-jo (Matsumoto Castle)

  • 4-1 Marunouchi Map It
  • Matsumoto
  • Castle/Palace/Chateau

Published 12/20/2010

Fodor's Review

Nicknamed "Crow Castle" for its black walls, this local landmark began as a small fortress with moats in 1504. It was remodeled into its current three-turreted form between 1592 and 1614, just as Japan became a consolidated nation under a central government. The civil wars ended and the peaceful Edo period (1603–1868) began, rendering medieval castles obsolete. Its late construction explains why the 95-foot-tall tenshukaku (inner tower) is the oldest surviving tower in Japan—no battles were ever fought here. Exhibits on each floor break up the challenging climb up very steep stairs. If you hunker down to look through rectangular openings (broad enough to scan for potential enemies) on the sixth floor, you'll have a gorgeous view of the surrounding mountains. In the southeast corner of the castle grounds, the Matsumoto City Museum exhibits samurai clothing and centuries-old agricultural implements.

At the end of July there is a taiko (Japanese drum) festival, and on November 3 the Matsumoto Castle Festival features a samurai parade. In late January an ice-sculpture exhibition is held in the museum's park. The castle is a 15-minute walk from the station.

Sight Information


4-1 Marunouchi, Matsumoto, Nagano-ken, 390-0873, Japan

Map It


0263-32–2902-for castle; 0263-32–0133-for museum

Sight Details:

  • Castle and museum ¥610

Published 12/20/2010


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