Matsumoto Castle

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Japan's Oldest Existing Castle Tower | Nagano

Japan's Oldest Existing Castle Tower | Nagano
Featured Destination on our Takayama Festival Japan Tours vacation series.

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). Matsumoto Castle is one of twelve original Japanese castles, meaning the castle has not been rebuilt since it was first constructed. 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 castle, meaning it is a Japanese 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 with ferro-concrete or steel.

National Treasure & Cherry Blossoms | Matsumoto Castle

National Treasure & Cherry Blossoms | Matsumoto Castle

As an original Japanese castle, there are numerous points to explore when visiting the castle grounds. 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, there is a 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. It is highly recommended to visit Matsumoto Castle for Hanami thanks to the many trees and night time illuminations (image to the left).

Invade the scenic castle for yourself and see the stunning view of cherry blossoms while traveling with Japan Deluxe Tours during our fully-guided Takayama Festival Japan Tours or Takayama Hidden Village Tour packages in the Spring!

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