Matsumoto Castle  松本城


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Matsumoto Castle stands majestically amid the town of Matsumoto with a background the Japan Alps. Himeji-jo is nicknamed white heron castle, whereas Matsumoto-jo, by contrast, is called karasu-jo, crow castle due to its shape and black-collared walls. The Matsumoto castle is the oldest five-tiered donjon in Japan. It was built in 1504 during the Warring States Period, and large parts of the castle are still original.
The halls of the castle are very narrow, and the steps are also narrow, shallow and high – some of them are about a foot and a half high. Samurai were supposed to be able to run the halls and climb these steps in full armour. The staircases were arranged so that any potential invader would have to cross the entire open area of the floor to get to the next staircase. So the potential invader would be found easily if he has no knowledge of these arrangements already. There is a hidden floor between the third and fourth floors to store the gunpowder. And on the outer walls many loopholes were prepared for musketeers and archers.