When planning my trip to Japan, I had put Matsumoto Castle on my list for “next time.” It appeared to be too out of the way to squeeze into my busy schedule. Thanks to Craig Shaw’s kindness, however, I was driven directly to Matsumoto to see the cherry blossoms in full bloom! For that, I am so grateful.
Built around 1593, this Castle has been deemed a National Treasure of Japan, and now I can see why! Once used as a defense fort, this castle included interconnected gates, walls, and moats.
While Matsumoto Castle isn’t the number one destination for most, I think it very well may be my favorite castle in all of Japan. It is completely surrounded by a moat filled with cherry trees, and is far less touristy than most other castles.
Unfortunately, we didn’t get there in time to enter the castle itself, but we did happen to be there while they offered a nighttime cherry blossom viewing. Entry into the interior garden of the castle is free after 5:30pm for the event, and inside you will find beautifully illuminated cherry trees set against Matsumoto Castle.
You can also purchase tonjiru (miso soup with pork), fried noodles, sweet rice dumplings, and sake.
While wandering the premises, we spent a few minutes listening to the live performances of the Japanese koto (flute) and gagaku classical music. Matsumoto Castle puts on this Sakura event every evening that the flowers are in bloom.
Matsumoto Castle is quite easy to access from Nagano, Tokyo, and Nagoya alike. If you’re journeying to Japan for cherry blossom season, it is hands down the best spot to view them without incessant crowds!
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**Special thanks to Japan Experience for sponsoring my journey. As always, all opinions are my own.