If we do some research, we can still find several castles in Japan. But many of them had to face wars and disasters in the past, therefore they were rebuilt and repaired many times. Nagano prefecture’s Matsumoto Castle is one of these repaired buildings, but the original shape hasn’t been modified.
In this article we are going to talk about this stronghold!
What’s special about Matsumoto Castle?
Matsumoto Castle was built in 1504 and abandoned in 1871. This castle’s figure is almighty majestic, its black entirety is impressive and still remaining. That’s why Matsumoto city’s people used to call it “the crow castle”.
This building’s architectural style is unique, the central fortified tower is a 6 stored, 5 folded building and it is surrounded by other towers.
We are talking about the oldest castle in Japan with these characteristics.
Matsumoto castle is surrounded by Matsumoto-jō Park: cherry trees in Spring and Maple trees in Autumn create many beautiful views during the year. It is also possible to behold the Japanese Alps from here.
How to get to Matsumoto Castle
Matsumoto castle is located in the middle of Matsumoto City, in Nagano Prefecture. We must first get to Matsumoto station.
By the “Azusa” or “Super Azusa” Limited Express trains leaving from Shinjuku station (running on the Chūō Line), you can reach Matsumoto Station in about 2 hours and 40 minutes. The fare is about 7.000 yen, and there are about 2 trains per hour. This route is totally covered by the Japan Rail Pass, included the East Japan version. By travelling on usual long distance local trains, you can get tickets for about the half the price, but the journey takes 5 hours.
There is also a bus leaving every hour from Shinjuku’s Keiō Bus Terminal. It takes 3 hours to reach Matsumoto Bus Terminal (close to the station). The one way ticket costs 4.000 yen, 7.000 yen the for a round trip ticket. In case you buy the round trip ticket, you must go back within 7 days.
(details here: http://tinyurl.com/lqk9u9p)
From Kansai area
Travelling by long distance trains form Kansai area, first you have to go to Nagoya station; the journey is fast, comfortable by travelling on Shinkansen or Kintetsu’s Limited Express trains. At Nagoya station you can find the “Shinano” limited express train heading to Matsumoto station, the fare is about 10.000 yen. If you travel on JR lines, also the route from Osaka, Kyoto or Nagoya is totally covered by the Japan Rail Pass.
If you want to travel by bus, the “Hankyū Bus” leaving from Ōsaka’s Umeda station will take you to Matsumoto station in 5 and a half hours. The ticket costs 6.000 yen, night journeys are also available.
(details here: http://tinyurl.com/lywkhgy)
Matsumoto’s Shinshū Sirport is connected to Shin-Chitose Airport (Sapporo) and Fukuoka Airport with Fujidream Airlines’ direct flights. To reach Matsumoto city from the airport you can take the Alpico Transports Bus, timetables are related on the flights’ ones. The fare is about 600 yen.
(details here: http://tinyurl.com/k6xfaj6)
Matsumoto castle is 20 minutes walking far from Matsumoto Station’s East Exit (Castle Exit). You can take the “town sneaker” tour bus. The one way ticket costs 200 yen. If you want to visit other attractions in Matsumoto city, the 500 yen ticket is valid all day long. If you have the one-day thicket you will get a discount while purchasing the entry ticket to Matsumoto castle. The full price is usually about 600 yen.
We walked form the station to the castle. The city’s central part is displayed in front of the station, shops and hotels are one next to the other. On the way to the castle we could see Chitose Bridge and an ancient shopping district: there are many souvenirs shops, bars and ryokan here. The castle is 10 minutes far from Chitose Bridge.
When we got there we was first impressed by the stronghold’s shape reflecting on the moat water. The red bridge called Uzumi-no-hashi was also beautiful. And then we finally saw the castle’s entrance. The entry fee is 610 yen, but since the city historical museum was being integrated, we could enter for free. The entry timetables depend on the season, you may also find a long queue some time! We advise to visit Matsumoto castle out of the tourist season.
The inner spaces kept the original state, all of them are made of wood. In order to avoid any injuries to the floor, you have to take off your shoes while entering the building. The view from the main tower’s top is amazing. We actually visited the castle several times: especially, we advise you to visit it during Spring, early Summer and while the Winter snow is laying all around; you can enjoy a beautiful view of Japanese Alps looking Southwards!
Matsumoto castle is one of the strongholds representing Japan: you can still enjoy its original shape, which is pretty rare. We recommend this tourist spot very much, please visit it if you can!