The Castle of Matsumoto – The fascinating Crow Castle in Japan

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Discover the Crow Castle in Matsumoto, Japan, a stunning fortress nestled in the picturesque Japanese Alps. With its distinctive black facade, this architectural gem is a must-visit for anyone who appreciates Japanese culture and architecture, yet it remains a true hidden gem of Japan.

In this guide, we’ll unveil the secrets of this national treasure and provide you with invaluable tips to make your visit unforgettable. Join us on a captivating journey into the world of the Samurai to my personal favorite castle in the country, and experience Japan’s rich history and culture up close.

Matsumoto Facts

  • 978.47 km² area
  • 241,102 inhabitants (2016)
  • Used to be a castle town in the Edo Period
  • Modern city since 1907

How to visit Matsumoto Castle – The Crow Castle of Japan

Entrance-matsumoto-castle-crow-castle-japan, japanese traditional dress
A pleasant welcome right at the entrance

Entrance Fee to Matsumoto Castle

For 700 yen (approx. $4.7/€4.30), you can explore the castle garden, the interior of the castle, and the castle museum.

Opening Hours of Matsumoto Castle

Daily from 08.30 am – 5 pm. In August until 6 pm.

The castle interior

Upon entering Matsumoto Castle, you somehow step into a world that has stood the test of time. Here, in its ancient corridors and halls, you’ll find a fascinating collection of exhibits that transport you deep into the Edo period.

Feel free to take a couple of hours to explore Japan’s rich past. Each room has its own story to tell, whether it’s about traditional Japanese life, the captivating history of the country, or the legendary Samurai.

Admittedly, if you visit the castle without a guide, you might not learn too much about its history. And compared to Central European castles, the interior of Japanese castles might seem a bit plain.

However, after visiting other Japanese castles, like the relatively empty Kanazawa Castle, one of the main attractions in Kanazawa, we were pleasantly surprised by the interior of the Crow Castle.

But the real highlight of the castle isn’t just its historical treasures. Look up and gaze through the windows and gunports – they offer a breathtaking view over the castle grounds.

From here, you can fully appreciate the beauty of the surrounding green gardens. The view changes with the seasons, from cherry blossoms in spring to snow-covered landscapes in winter, offering a constantly shifting, picturesque panorama.

Have a free tour through the Matsumoto Castle

Matsumoto castle, Samurai, Tourists, Sword

Many volunteers offer free guided tours of the castle. Even tips are not accepted.

The elderly gentleman who showed us around had started learning Spanish three years earlier. So he could explain the castle to us, half in English and half in Spanish. It’s an excellent way for him to practice his language and for us to get interesting information about the castle.

It was convenient to have someone with us who could explain everything, as many explanations and information boards next to the exhibits are only available in Japanese.

And you can also learn lots of other exciting things about Japanese culture and customs along the way. Therefore it is definitely recommendable to choose to visit with a guide.

The History of the Matsumoto Castle

View from matusmoto castle, japan, surrounded by green park

Matsumoto Castle is one of the most beautiful castles in Japan. Due to its shape, reminiscent of open wings, and its dark color, it is also known as Crow Castle.

Construction of the castle began around 1504, and it was initially only used as a castle during the Sengoku period. However, Norimasa and his son Yasunaga, who ruled over Matsumoto during the period, decided to optimize the castle’s construction and add some structures in 1590.

Over time, 23 different nobles ruled from Matsumoto Castle. Due to renovations in the 20th century, it is now considered one of the best-preserved castles in the country.

The castle was built of wood and stone and is one of the few castles not built on a hill or mountain. (Lowland Castle)

Today, Matsumoto Castle is one of Japan’s most famous traditional castles, along with the white Himeji Castle.

How to get to Matsumoto Castle

matsumoto castle on the matsumoto map, city map
Source: Google Maps

The impressive castle is located right next to the city center of Matsumoto. From Matsumoto Station, it is only a short 15-minute walk (0.6mi/1 km) to the castle.

You can easily find your way using Google Maps or or follow the signs to “松本城.”

How to get to Matsumoto

Bus from Tokyo to Matsumoto

Journey Duration: ca. 3 hours

Price: from 4.600 Yen (ca. $30/€28)

Various providers are operating between Tokyo and Matsumoto. As a result, prices may vary.

However, trains generally run once an hour and take between three and four hours.

Bus from Takayama to Matsumoto

Journey Duration2½ hours

Preis: from 3.500 Yen (ca. $23.5/€22)

A popular destination after visiting Matsumoto is the Japanese city of Takayama.

Buses and trains run back and forth between the two destinations several times a day. (The train is usually more expensive than the bus)


About the AuthorVicki

Hi, we are Vicki & Eduardo, an international travel couple on a mission to help you save money for priceless travel experience. Follow us through the miracles of this world and you will be rewarded with a bunch of practical travel tips.

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