Ever imagine yourself back in medival times, wearing metal armors, helmet, with huge swords and roaring with a battle cry?

I actually did. May be not medival times (I played with Mobile suits models, the little green men, and of course I played Barbie Dolls before too), but I am always interested in stories about battles, personal accounts, and so on.

Of course when I visit Japan this time, I want to see a Japanese castle and hope to hear some tales about the old battles. However, I realized invading a castle and try to claim your travel mark is a lot harder than one would think just from reading history books.

First, you have to fight in 5 Degree Celcius! (The samurai guy pointed at himself and said “free photo”…so I took the bait despite shaking from the freezing temeprature that day =D)

Then you will be shot by arrows (or later on they have bullets) from little peeking holes around the castle walls.

If you have not fallen at this point and reached the door, you will be faced with the door guard who yells in his best English possible “Ticket,” “Shoes! Off!” (Photo Above: Decoration near the door of the castle)

Then while trying not to hit your head by the beams on the ceiling, you have to face with steep stairs with about 55-60 degree incline.

But, when you climb up the stairs, there are treasures and moments that will make you smile.

This is Matsumoto Castle, one of the 12 original castles in Japan. It was build in early 1500 by Ogasawara clan as a fort. It was also known as the Crow Castle because of the black exterior.

When I entered the castle it was dark and cold inside. I wondered how many candles they needed to lit to light up the place. Some parts of the ceiling are low, and I was being careful not to hit my head. The stairs were so steep and small that some people had to held onto the stairs itself with dear life. I actually got stuck at one point going down because my backpack was too big and the ceiling/floor’s small opening prevented me from moving down the stairs. I heard most of the people back then were smaller than our height and size now.

The thing that wowed me here at the castle is the view you get from looking outside the window. At the top of the main tower you can see the entire city from 4 sides. From lower part of the tower you can also see different sides of the garden. Although I think the garden is probably prettier during Spring than Winter (snow would have also been pretty though).

If you come to Matsumoto in Nagano Prefecture, be sure to visit this castle. The castle has collections of guns, weapons, and laquerware artifacts. The entrance ticket to this castle will also grant you entrance to Matsumoto City Museum.

As an extra note: At many train stations and museum places in Japan, you might find a table with stamps. I like to use those stamps at the back of my museum tickets/or in a notebook as a mark that I was here ^_^ Each place’s stamp has a different design.