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Nagano Prefecture, Japan


Matsumoto is a city located in Nagano Prefecture, Chubu Region, Honsu Island, Japan. It is located within easy reach of Tokyo by road or rail. Matsumoto is the second largest city in Nagano Prefecture. It is most famous for Matsumoto-jo, one of Japan's most beautiful original castles. The city is also a good base for trips into the Japanese Alps, e.g. to Kamikochi. The new city of Matsumoto is the city comprising the mergers of the old city of Matsumoto and four villages. Matsumoto officially absorbed those villages without creating a new municipal organisation.

Matsumoto is surrounded by mountains and is acclaimed for its beautiful views. Hiking and climbing locations in the mountains are readily accessible by local bus transportation. Matsumoto has several historic features, such as Matsumoto Castle (Matsumoto-jo), Kaichi school (Kaichi gakko), and Temari (traditional Japanese handball).

Matsumoto Castle (Matsumoto-jo), also known as the "Crow Castle" (Karasu-jo) because of its black exterior, is one of Japan's premier historic castles. The Matsumoto Castle was built more than 400 years ago. The castle is open to tourists and displays many ancient weapons from and inspired by Europe including muskets and rifles. The keep (tenshukaku), which was completed in the late 16th century, maintains its original wooden interiors and external stonework. It is listed as a National Treasure of Japan. Matsumoto Castle is a flatland castle (hirajiro) because it is not built on a hilltop or amid rivers, but on a plain. Matsumoto Castle is one of the most complete and beautiful among Japan's original castles. Its complete defences would have included an extensive system of inter-connecting walls, moats and gatehouses. Matsumoto castle tower and smaller, second turret were built from 1592 to 1614 and were both well defended, as peace was not yet fully secured at the time. In 1635, when no more military threats existed, a third, barely defended turret for moon viewing was added to the castle.