Matsumoto Castle is also called Karasu-Jou or "Crow Castle" because of its black exterior. Along with Himeji Castle, Inuyama Castle, and Hikone Castle, Mastumoto Castle is designated a National Treasure of Japan. It dates from the 16th century, and the keep still has its original wooden interior and stone exterior. Inside the castle is a gun museum.
Photo by Haru
During the Meiji period, the keep started to lean to one side. People said it was because of the curse of Tada Kasuke. Tada and a group of other farmers met at Kumano shrine in 1686 about an exorbitant tax increase. They brought their letter of appeal Matsumoto Castle expecting to turn it in peacefully to the magistrate, but when the peasants heard about his plan, they revolted, robbing stores and attacking the merchants. The executives of the domain agreed to lower the taxes, but a few weeks later Tada and the other farmers were arrested and executed without trial. (The keep was actually structurally deficient at the time, but the story is more interesting. Good thing the keep has since been restored, because we climbed all the way to the top!)
We went to the castle by bicycle from the train station, so I was quite hungry by the time we got back to town. The area is famous for two foodstuffs: basashi (raw horse meat) and wasabi (home to the world's largest wasabi farm). I passed on both and got a big bowl of soba (buckwheat) noodles instead, my fave. For dessert we picked up some delicious Nagano apples from the shopping arcade.
Apple cultivation in Nagano dates from 1874, when the Ministry of the Interior delivered three apple seedlings to Nagano. Mmmm.
Photo by jpellgen
Next stop: Kamikouchi.