Relive a Fairytale in Matsumoto Castle

Each culture has its own myths, legends and stories. What makes it even more fascinating is that all cultures have their own special way of representing them. Experience Japan’s version of a fairytale by visiting one of its most beautiful and unique castles.

Visually stunning with its casted reflection on the tranquil lake, Matsumoto Castle is one of Japan’s twelve original castles still existing in the country. Matsumoto Castle was built in the late sixteenth century but still retains its original, elegant interior and remarkably crafted stonework to this very day. The main attraction of the castle is the three turreted castle keep or dungeon. There are also displays of original weapons used in the early era.

The picturesque castle is popularly known as karasu-jo or “crow castle” because its black walls and towers resemble a crow spreading its wings. The black exterior was deemed to strike fear and ward enemies away. However, the castle’s dark exterior no longer wards off intruders, rather, today it attracts tourist with its magnificent reflection in the water that looks almost magical at nighttime when the lights are illuminated. From the tall mountains in the background to the calm, serene lake it stands on, the castle simply creates an astonishing and remarkable visual.

Aside from the dreamy castle, the Matsumoto area is also famed for their apples and traditional soba. Pick up some apples to a nearby orchard in Matsumoto, they’re not poisonous but they are delicious and addicting. In Hida Takayama, you can also taste-test Japan’s traditional sake.

Nakamachi-dori, just a close by street of the castle in the south, is a preserved ancient merchant quarter with houses from the Edo Period built in kuya-zukuri style. These houses have walls that were made up of multiple layers of clay and with roofs built from black plaster. Be sure to take a stroll in the area after touring the castle, it will feel as though you’re walking back in history.

Matsumoto is very accessible, so if you happen to be in Japan make sure you include this in your trip. To get to these incredible places and see the real-life view of the castle, you can take a train ride from Tokyo to Matsumoto station or for a cheaper ride, take a bus from Keio Highway Bus Terminal in Shinkuku.

Take a trip to one of Japan’s best historical castles. Its beauty will make you believe in fairytales again.

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