SAMURAI CASTLES: Matsumoto Castle

Matsumoto Castle, a designated National Treasure, stands on a plain in Nagano Pref. encircled by rugged mountains. The black-lacquered keep from 1590 comprises five structures and resembles a bird extending its wings. Its reflection in the moat draws scores of photographers to its beauty, but the castle was built for war and has excellent defenses. History and castle buff Chris Glenn uncovers how Matsumoto Castle evolved during the transition from a period of civil war to times of peace.

Taiko-mon boasts two levels of defenses
The enormous Kagami-ishi boulder, a symbol of authority
The gleaming, black-lacquered wall
A combination of squared and rounded pillars support the sub-keep