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
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.