Matsumoto castle is considered as one of the three most beautiful castles in Japan: Himeji castle, Osaka castle and Matsumoto castle. Matsumoto castle is designated as a National Treasure of Japan and the oldest five tiered wooden castle. That is the reason why the castle is a must-visit tourist attraction of Matsumoto city, Nagano prefecture. It takes only around 15 minutes walking to the castle from the Matsumoto JR station.
The building (tenshukaku) was constructed from 1592 as the headquarters of Matsumoto Domain of Edo period. It maintains original wooden interiors and external stonework. Matsumoto castle has a distinctive design. The castle was not built on a hill top or amid rivers like most of the castles in Japan, but on a plain area. The castle is also called as Karasu Jou, which means the crow castle because of its elegant black exterior. You cannot help but admire the unique beauty of this castle and spectacular view of Japan Northern Alps.
The second floor of the main keep (tenshukaku) features a weapons museum with collections of guns, Japanese armors… You may have chance to experience the Samurai shooting festival which is held at Matsumoto castle in October.
The garden around the castle is filled with cherry blossoms, plum blossoms and other kinds of flowers. Especially, cherry blossom trees along the moats of the castle bring a beautiful scene in spring and a peaceful atmosphere in summer. If you visit the castle in Jun or in July, you may find a small pond fulled of lotus flowers opposite to the red Uzuhashi bridge leading to the castle. This is also a very nice photo spot when you visit Matsumoto castle.
The castle is the place for many events and festivals during 4 seasons such as: Hanami cherry blossom viewing in spring, Japanese traditional taiko drums festival, Takigi Noh play performance, bon-bon dance festival and craft beer festival in summer, Moon gazing festival, Soba (Japanese noodles made from buckwheat flour) festival in Autumn, Matsumoto ice sculpture festival in winter…
In 2019 Matsumoto castle was voted as the best castle in Japan for nighttime illumination (style.nikkei.com). Especially, in spring the cherry blossoms around the castle are also lighted up for hanami. The view of illuminated cherry blossoms reflected in the moat’s water is truly spectacular.
There are English-speaking volunteer guides who can show you the legend of Matsumoto castle, so don’t hesitate to ask them at the entrance. Everyday between 9:00-16:00, princesses in Kimono and armored warriors grace the Honmaru Gardens. You can ask them to join you in taking photos free-of-charge. That would be a nice memory of your travel.
The admission ticket to Japan’s National Treasure Matsumoto Castle and Matsumoto city museum is 700 yen/ adult. For our guests at Hotel IIDAYA, you can buy the entrance ticket with a special price (450 yen/adult) at the Front desk. Therefore, don’t forget to let us know if you plan to visit this beautiful castle.
The castle is opened all year except New Year Holiday (Dec. 29-Dec.31)
Admission hours of Honmaru Garden and the castle
- Ordinary season 8:30-17:00 (last admission is 16:30)
- During golden week and summer season 8:00 -18:00 (last admission is 17:30)