Stark with moat and a red bridge. This is the Matsumoto-jo, also known as the crow castle. Coincidently, tons of big (fat) crows can be spotted in the vicinity. The dark colour comes from a combination of wood and stone.

Matsumoto castle is an original keep from 1500s! It is only damaged by earthquake and neglect (was tilting like Pisa), but it is all good now. It is listed as a national treasure of Japan. Madness to think that at some stage the Japanese considered demolition.

There are only 12 original castles in Japan:

  1. Himeji, Hyogo prefecture **Largest and best preserved; never fallen, hence called ‘the white hero’. She is the only one that is listed as UNESCO world heritage.
  2. Matsumoto, Nagano prefecture
  3. Matsue, Shimane prefecture
  4. Bitchu-Matsuyama, Okayama prefecture
  5. Maruoka, Fukui prefecture
  6. Hikone, Shiga prefecture
  7. Hirosaki, Aomori prefecture ==> feature 400+ years old Sakura tree…
  8. Inuyama, Aichi prefecture
  9. Kochi, Kochi prefecture
  10. Marugame, Kagawa prefecture
  11. Uwajime, Ehime prefecture
  12. Iyo-Matusyama, Ehime prefecture

Everything else are replica / reconstruction. I will do a bit more castle posts. Please hang in there.

The garden around the Matsumoto castle was pleasant and well groomed. I was too obsessed with trying to take a perfect reflection shot, so I sat around the moat like an idiot waiting for the light to change…



There were benches next to the moat. It was just perfect for hanging around to wait for the correct lighting. I didn’t do the 10 hour craziness like Miyajima, I only waited for 2.5 hours for this one. After 100 shot of failure, I called it a day >_< perhaps better luck for me next time.

Matsumoto city walk was well worth it. The below photo was of a book store that has been around for 100+ years. The building was the original thing. It looked like such a misfit next to its modern neighbours. The frog sculpture was not Naruto related. I was fooled too.

Matsumoto Matsumoto

How to get here?

JR Matsumoto station. Walk is only around 15min? The city walk is well worth it. I highly recommend skipping the bus.

**The bus takes almost the same amount of time as walking lol

Matsumoto jo, crow castle

Nearby: Wasabi farm and Azumino country side walk


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Salut, I am Joyce. 40 something living in Paris. Appreciate little things and share giggles. Prudent, no nonsense reviews. #ExploreLaughRepeat


  1. Nice photos and good storytelling, Joyce! 10 years ago, I also got to see Matsumoto Castle on my first-ever trip to Japan. I distinctly remember that upon arrival at the station, there were these funny announcements going like “Matsumotoooo, Matsumotoooo, …”. 🙂 Now, 10 years later, I am married to a Japanese wife, and on our next trip in March/April we might go to see this castle together for the first time.
    Thanks, and best wishes

    • Thank you for dropping by, Norbert 😀 You will have such a fab time in Matsumoto~~ perfect timing for hanabi!!!
      Best wishes & Bon voyage to your trip

  2. Beautiful images Joyce and a wonderful brief history lesson on Japanese castles. Did you use the same lens for all those shots?

  3. Ha! Matsumoto is my last name. I guess I need to think of a way to visit Japan… Thanks for this!

  4. Crow castle! Ha… ha…ha… It’s beautiful….Amazing. And your photos put it in a gorgeous light. Nice post!

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