Matsumoto Castle

Look closely at this picture. Do you see
that lunatic sitting on the castle wall with
his legs hanging over the edge? That's me!

Ahh, yes. Matsumoto. About an hour from Nagano along the edge of Japan Alps lies this small city. I met a New Yorker named Seth at a hostel and we set out for the castle early one summer morning. There was to be a large concert held outside the castle the coming weekend, hence the scaffolding and equipment in this picture.

The main attraction of this castle is the donjon, or keep, of the castle; it's six-stories tall! The donjon complex has three turrets. The two side-turrets connect to the main donjon at several levels. The donjon complex is completely original and looking great, but it wasn't always so well kept.

A good view of the "Moon Viewing Keep"

During the "Meiji Restoration", the lord of Matsumoto Castle, Toda Mitsuhisa, turned control of his land and people over to the Imperial Court. The government ordered the destruction of many structures of the outer circles including keeps, palaces, gates and walls. The donjon complex was sold.

It was allowed to fall into disrepair until 1901; the repairs were completed 12 years later. At one point, the entire donjon complex leaned towards the southwest and was in danger of falling completely.

The leaning donjon of Matsumoto

Much of the castle was able to be restored to its original condition. Here is the foundation of the donjon complex which was made in the crude style called "nozura-zumi". Stones were taken from the nearby mountains and piled by crossing their longer and shorter sides. No mortar was used between the stones!!

Doesn't look so "crude" to me!



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