Matsumoto Castle (松本城) is one of the four castles designated as Japan National Treasures. Due to its black exterior, it is also known as Crow Castle (烏城). The other three castles are Himeji Castle, Inuyama castle and Hikone Castle.
Matsumoto Castle is located at Matsumoto, a beautiful historical city in Nagano Prefecture. It is also famous for its delicious Matsumoto Soba and Grasshopper. Too bad I didn't have a chance to try it.
I went there two weeks ago using the Seishun 18 Kippu (青春18きっぷ). Seishun 18 Kippu is a seasonally special discount railway ticket, which gives you five days of unlimited, nationwide travel on local and rapid JR (Japan Railways) trains. You won't be able to use it for Shinkansen and limited express train that requires additional charge. Took me around 5 or 6 hours to reach there by train.
The admission ticket is 600 yen. You need to take a 15 minute walk from Matsumoto train station.
There is a Moon Viewing Festival held every autumn on the grounds and in the moon viewing room of Matsumoto Castle. During that time, you will be able to see three moons from the moon viewing room. One in the sky, one in the water below, and one in your cup of sake. You might be able to see more moons if you drink too much. :)
Inside the castle was very hot and a bit crowded. You need to climb an extremely steep steps to go to the top. Be careful inside.
View from the top of castle.
From there, we took a short walk around the city. As a historical city, Matsumoto is surprisingly very clean and well maintained. The old buildings are nicely preserved.
Beautiful city ! Might come back here during winter to enjoy the onsen. ^^