One of the Best Preserved Castles in the Middle of the Japanese Alps
Matsumoto Castle is my favorite castle in Japan. Located in Matsumoto, a city in the middle of the Japanese Alps, it is still quiet unknown to the general public, but well appreciated by the Japaneses. With the peaks in the background, this castle is majestic at all times. I would recommend to spend the night in Matsumoto to enjoy the castle magnified lightings. It takes on another dimension that I wish you can experience !
The caste was built in the 16th century and, unlike most Japanese castles, has never been destroyed since. It features a majestic 5-storey high dungeon, an important garden and impressive moats. Because of its original black colour, it is nicknamed the “Crow Castle”. Usually, I do not recommend visiting the interior of Japanese Castles as it is most likely modern. The excellent conservation of the castle offers a beautiful wooden structure in the inside. From the last floor of the dungeon, you can get a nice view of Mastumoto and the Japanese Alps. Matsumoto Castle is now a Japanese National Treasures.
Luckily, we visited Matsumoto Castle on the 3r of November, the culture day (Bunka no Hi) in Japan. For this occasion, a multitude of representations were organized in the park next to Castle. We saw a Kendo tournament, a Samurai parade and traditional songs and dances. There was barely no foreigners so we could fully experience Japanese culture.
The other advantage of visiting Matsumoto Castle in November is the autumn colors of the leaves. Also, the Castle is quite well known during the cherry blossoms, which happens a little after the flowering in Tokyo. Dozens of cherry trees bloom in the park and locals go there to celebrate Hanami.
The castle is open everyday from 08:30 to 16:30 (entrance fee: 700 yen)