We decided it was time for a short trip out of Tokyo, and since we hadn’t been to see a castle since we arrived in Japan we set off for the city of Matsumoto, in Nagano Prefecture. Its about a 2.5 hour trip from Shinjuku station up into the fringes of the Japanese alps.
Because Matsumoto is up in the mountains it was not bombed during the Second World War, which means that the castle is the original deal – 400 years old. Okay, its probably not exactly 100% original parts, but its pretty much as it was. Familiar story – it was neglected during the Meiji restoration and was not in good shape. Fortunately local folks decided to buy it and restore is and now it is here for us to enjoy.
One of the things that is a bit unusual is that the castle is not all white, like most Japanese castles. For contrast, here is Himeji Castle:
Matsumoto castle pretty neat inside – the spaces are pretty much as they would have been used. And the stairs, oh my gosh, the stairs. This was a defensive structure – people did not live here, so there was no need to make it easy to move about. In some places the risers on the stairs were a foot tall or more. And then the next one would be about six inches. And most of them where more like ladders than stairs.
Did I mention that this is a no shoes facility – we were carrying our shoes in plastic bags while touring the castle. We had to be very careful not to slip in our sock feet….
That was a challenge.
She’s looking pretty good at 400 years of age!
And it was a perfectly lovely fall day – blue skies and not a breath of wind, which led to this lovely shot: