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Matsumoto, situated almost right in the center of Nagano and known as the gate to the Northern Alps' climbing routes, prospered as a castle town at the foot of Matsumoto Castle (Matsumotojo). The castle's tower, a 5-story, 6-layer tower built in the Bunroku Period (1593-1594) is Japan's oldest existing castle tower and is designated as a national treasure. It is a "hirajiro" - a castle built on plains rather than on a hill or mountain. Matsumoto Castle is unique for having both a secondary donjon and a turret adjoined to its main keep. The castle structures, in combination with their characteristic black wainscoting, give off an air of grandeur and poise. The wooden interior of Matsumoto Castle provides an authentic experience unlike that felt at many other castles rebuilt of ferro-concrete. Interesting features of the castle include steep wooden stairs, openings to drop stones onto invaders, openings for archers, as well as an observation deck at the top, sixth floor of the main keep with nice views over the surrounding city. In summer, the Taiko (Japanese drum) Festival and the Takigi-Noh (Noh play under torchlight) are held at the castle and attract many visitors. The view of the Northern Alps from the large, green Shiroyama-koen Park, at an altitude of 800 meters is beautiful. The park is a popular cherry blossom viewing spot in the spring and many visit to stroll around the spacious castle grounds and park.
Take a look first hand at Japan's oldest existing castle by joining any of our fully escorted Takayama Festival Japan Tours or Takayama Hidden Village Tour packages available Spring & Autumn!
Outdoor hot spring made exclusively for snow monkeys
Hosted events during 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics; one of world's largest ski resorts
The White Heron Castle - UNESCO's World Heritage
Well fortified hilltop castle; several original wooden buildings remain
Famous for its Japanese horseradish, wasabi
One of the Three Most Beautiful Gardens in Japan
Beautifully Preserved with Old Homes in Takayama
Served as the local government office in Edo era