Matsumoto Castle English guide page1

First introduction and a guide from the outside view!!

 Hello I am a goodwill guide to the castle here. If you like, I would like to give you a tour, it's free of charge. Good, you want me to guide. How many hours have you got to stay here, it takes about one and a half hours to go through with complete explanation.

 This hole building is consist of five parts, from the right, small tower, roofed passage, main tower, and one, two other wings. We'll see those buildings in this order, too. The main tower is about 29m. high and stonewalls is 3m.

 The first three constructions were built about 400 years ago, it is said sometime between 1593 and 1594. In those days there were still civil wars all over Japan. Toyotomi Hideyosi who was the first man to complete ruling the whole Japan first, chose the Matsumoto castle as one of the important forts in the front line to the east forces, especially Tokugawa Ieyasu who became the first Syogun later.
Any way Hideyoshi sent one of his good men, Isikawa Kazumasa, to Mastumoto to do the important job. It is said that he and his son Yasunaga made those three parts.

 So, the castle towers were made as impregnable as possible. If you look at the walls of the buildings, you notice there are lots of holes on them, square ones are for shooting muskets and rectangular ones are for archers. There are more than 100 of them on the walls of the whole building.
Can you see those places where the walls jut out, at the center and corners on the first floor? They are called isiotoshi or "stone drops".The defenders would drop stones through these holes to the attackers climbing up the walls, they also shot guns and arrows through them. I've heard that that castles in Europe have similar devices, but they used hot oil instead of stones. Primitive, but pretty effective and merciless I would imagine.

 Maybe you are wondering why the constriction of 400 years old preserved so well. In 1950's, the castle underwent major renovation, since the buildings had deteriorated and the main tower was leaning a bit. At that time, they took apart the whole building, and each stones of the stonewalls. They examined every part, and then remodeled them, fixed them, and put them back into which they believed to be their original places. It took 7 years to complete whole job.

 Someone found a piece of decayed wood in the stonewall of the main tower at the major renovation. Through the careful examination they found the fact that the wood tip was a part of 16 pillars to support the main tower, but all of them were gone. No wonder the tower was leaning. Now they have been replaced with concrete ones. You'll see that piece of wood, preserved in a glass covered box in the first floor of the main tower.

 Now lets go inside, take off your shoes and put them in the bag you got. The exit is different place, so please take it with you all the way. Inside is dark and each steps of the stairs are wide, so watch your steps. Please don't worry about the plastic bag, it is made of lime and biodegradable.

From the right, small tower, roofed passage,main tower,and two other wings

Logs were used as foot steps during the major renovation

Ishiotoshi from the inside, I wonder they used them as a toilet

A tip of aged wood found in the stonewall preserved in the glass box

A guide in the first and the second floor of the small tower,and the second floor of the roofed passage!!

 Now we are at the first floor of the small tower . What's your first impression of inside of the buildings? Someone says that it is very dark, and the other says a lot of pillars there are. Once I was asked where the toilet was. Actually no one lived in the castle towers, therefore no toilets or dining. There were other places to live in for the daimyo and his family. I would imagine that watchmen on duty might used isiotoshis as toilets. No wonder the carps in the moat are well fed.

 Please take a look at the model here, it was made by some students of technical high school of Gifu prefecture. Several years ago they took a school trip here, they were so much impressed by the beauty of towers of Matsumoto castle. After the trip, they made this model and donated it here, so here it is.
You've probably noticed some round pillars are used in the room. It is one of the distinct facts of the minor tower, you won't see any of them in the rooms of other towers
I have a question here, see the surface of the pillars, what kind of tools were used to carve the logs like these? Adzes were used. The wood is hemlock spruce, fir, or Japanese cypress.

 Lets go up to the second floor, each steps of the stairs are pretty wide and very steep, so please watch your steps.The reason why they made the stairs like this is easy to guess, to make the attackers difficult to climb , right? Students nowadays visiting the castle on school trip complain much about it mentioning why they didn't add more steps to the stairs.

 Well you can see the yazama teppozama, holes on the walls, very well from here. You see, inside of the holes are wider than the the outside of them. They say to make them easy to aim at and shoot, harder to attack from far out. You also see the thickness of the wall, it is getting thicker as the floor is lower. It is
If you take a look at the window, most of windows of the castle buildings are like this, please slide it open, it is pretty heavy isn't it? Muskets those days needed at least 2 minutes to reload, so first get them ready to shoot, open the window, shoot, close the window, and then get the gun ready again, and open, then shoot. It is very primitive action but quite effective I guess.

 Could you come over here, this map was drawn in Showa era showing us the castle in early 18th century. There were roughly three kinds of castles in Japan according to where there were built. One is mountain castles, they were built on mountains. Secondly hill castles built on hills. And the last kind of castles were like Matsumoto castle built in flat land, and were easily attacked. So three moats were made as defense lines, plus the Metoba river was used as a forth moat, it used to flow up north of the castle from east to west, but the people who built the castle changed the line to the south of the castle. It is said the Susuki river, which is now flowing far south of the castle, was also changed the line.
Inside area of the inner most moat is called Honmal, there were castle towers and a big big house for the daimyo and his family, but the house was burn down in January of 1727 by the fire started in the kitchen. It was not rebuilt ever since because of the finance situation, I guess. The area between inner moat and middle moat is called Ninomaru. There were governmental offices, and the private residence of the daimyo and his family which was used mainly after loosing the house in Honmaru, and storages for food and weapons.The area between middle moat and outer moat is called Sannomaru, and there were residence for higher-ranking samurai, or warriors.The lower-ranking samurais lived out side of the outer moat surrounding the castle area mainly up north.Town people also lived outer, from south to east north, strictly divided by their occupation.

 Now let's move on, we are entering the second floor of the roofed passage. This castle had been ruled by 6 families and 23 different daimyos ever since it was built. If you look at the roof tiles in this glass box. Three of them on the upper shelf from the right were the three family crests out of six families. If you look at the roof tile on the lower shelf, you'll see some characters on it, this fact was also discovered at the renovation. These characters tell us the names and addresses of the craftsmen and the dates when and where the tiles were made. They were carved in the tiles while they were still wet, using a bamboo spatula or a nail.

a model made by high school students

yazama teppozama from the inside

sliding window

a picture shows the castle in early 18th century

old roof tiles some characters on them