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Matsumoto Castle (松本城 Matsumoto-jō) is one of Japan's historic castles.  It is located in the city of Matsumoto, in Nagano Prefecture.  This castle is also called Crow Castle because of its black walls and spreading wings.  It is an example of a flatland castle, not being built on a hilltop or amid rivers.

The castle's origins go back to the Sengoku (Warring States) period.  At that time, the Ogasawara clan built a fort on this site, which was originally called Fukashi Castle.  Later, it came under the rule of the Takeda clan and then Tokugawa Ieyasu.

When Toyotomi Hideyoshi transferred Ieyasu to the Kantō region, he placed Ishikawa Norimasa in charge of Matsumoto. Norimasa and his son Yasunaga built the tower and other parts of the castle, including: the three towers, the tenshu (donjon tower), inui-kotenshu (small tower in the northwest), watari-yagura (connecting scaffold), goten (residence), taikomon (drum gate), kuromon (black gate), yagura (scaffold), hori (trench), honmaru (the main wing), ninomaru (the second wing), sannomaru (the third wing), and the sub-floors in the castle, much as they are today.  They were also instrumental in laying out the castle town and its infrastructure.  It is believed much of the castle was completed in 1593-4.

During the Edo period, the Tokugawa shogunate established the Matsumoto Han, of which the Matsudaira, Mizuno and others were the daimyo.  In 1872, following the Meiji Restoration, the tower was sold at auction and was at risk of being dismantled. However, with the cooperation of Ichikawa Ryozo and other people of Matsumoto, it was spared.  The Kuromon-ninomon (second gate of the black gate) and sodebei (side wall) were reconstructed in 1990.  The taikomon-masugata (square-shaped drum gate) was reconstructed in 1999.

The tower of Matsumoto Castle is listed as a National Treasure of Japan.

Matsumoto Castle and perfect clear blue sky in the background!

Two Matsumoto Castles.

Matsumoto Castle and a bright orange koi.

Kuro-mon (Black Gate).

Explanation of how the trigger mechanism works with early firearms.

Some of the firearms in the collection of valuable related material donated by the late Michishige and Koyoko Akabane from Matsumoto City.

These steps rise at 61 degrees, nearly 40cm per step!

On the 6th floor, a god named Nijuroku-ya-shin (god of 26 nights), who protects Matsumoto Castle, has a dedication in the center of the ceiling.

The view from the 6th floor of the tenshu (donjon tower).

Another beautiful view of the castle through some Japanese maples and cedar trees.

No, thak you!

The Chuo Alps in the background. These are the same mountains that we climbed last September!

A statue of three very crazy looking samurai frogs ... or something.

A very large tree in the median of the road on the North side of the castle, you can see the rope on it means it is a sacred tree.

Matsumoto Castle and two swans.

A brown pigeon, we had never seen one this color.

Ashley waiting patiently as I was busy taking pictures. I think Matsumoto Castle is my favorite castle in Japan.