Surrounded by vast mountains, deep history and home to one of five castles that have been given the National Treasure title, Nagano is the 4th largest prefecture in Japan.
Experiencing the city-life such as in Tokyo can be exhilarating and exciting; however, sometimes you may have the urge to visit the more rural side of Japan. Why not visit the historical town of Matsumoto ? It is very accessible from the city as there are trains that take you directly there with no transfer. It takes around 2 and a half hours with drinks and snacks available too.
If you have time to visit Matsumoto you should definitely visit the Matsumoto Castle. Also nicknamed as “Crow Castle” because of its black exterior, the Matsumoto Castle is one of 12 remaining original castles in all of Japan. The castles are considered original if they have been constructed before the end of the feudal era (封建制).
The castle originally served as a fortress and so it was built so that it can easily be defended.
If you look at the picture of the castle you may notice that there are some small windows. These were used for watching and shooting enemies. Some of them have larger openings so that they can drop stones or burn pitch on the enemies that are trying to climb up or get into the castle. The main tower of the castle is five-tiered however, there is actually a hidden sixth floor which served a number of purposes. One is to keep the supplies hidden away from invadors. Second is to slow the movement of enemies in the event of an attack. Thirdly, used for not just hiding supplies but yourself when faced with danger. You can actually climb up to the very top of the castle but make sure you have warm socks in the Winter because the floor can get very cold and no shoes are allowed but it is very much worth it because the view is spectacular.