Matsumoto-jō information

Matsumoto , Japan
4-1 Marunōchi
adult/child ¥600/300
Opening hours
8.30am-5pm early-Sep–mid-Jul, to 6pm mid-Jul–Aug
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Magnificent, must-see Matsumoto-jō is Japan's oldest wooden castle and one of four castles designated National Treasures – the others are Hikone, Himeji and Inuyama. The magnificent three-turreted donjon was completed around 1595, in contrasting black and white, leading to the nickname Karasu-jō (Crow Castle). Steep steps lead up six storeys, with impressive views from each level. Lower floors display guns, bombs and gadgets with which to storm castles, and a delightful tsukimi yagura (moon-viewing pavilion). It has a tranquil moat full of carp, with the occasional swan gliding beneath the red bridges. The basics are explained over loudspeakers in English and Japanese. You can also ask at the entrance about a free tour in English (subject to availability), or call the Goodwill Guide Group (32-7140) which gives free one-hour tours by reservation.