The main part of the structure was constructed between 1592 to 1614 and was well fortified for both defensive and offensive military strategies. Additional turrets were constructed in 1635 for moon viewing and not so much for keeping out invaders. However, the lack of windows did provide better protection against attackers. The openings were made to accommodate gun barrels and other openings, ishitosohi, were used to drop large stones onto invaders found climbing the stone walls. There are openings for archers and the sixth floor provided an observation point for defenders and now tourists visiting the Matsumoto Castle.
During a tour of the interior, you may appreciate the wooden interior and extremely steep stairs. Hold onto the handrails! The 4th-floor staircase is the steepest in Japan at an angle of 61 degrees. For a practical comparison, a ladder is generally set at 75 degrees.
The first floor was used for food, weapons, and ammunition. On the third floor, military planning occurred and meetings were held. The fourth floor housed the lords and the fifth was for meetings of the top brass of the feudal lords. If you look at the castle from the outside, you would not think that it has six stories. The sixth floor is hidden and functions as an observation tower.
Should you visit during the spring, you will get to see the cherry blossoms in full bloom around the castle. The outer castle moat is home to hundreds of cherry trees that provide a stunning view around mid-April each year.
You cannot forget to visit the Matsumoto City Museum located inside the park. You will get free admission with your castle ticket. This museum has a lot of information about the castle and its history, including an exhibit of the armor and weapons that were used at the time.
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