matsumoto jo

Matsumoto-jo: Built around 1595, this is Japan’s oldest wooden castle and one of four designated as a national treasure. It has lasted so long partly because the castle never saw direct warfare.

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It’s pretty awe-inspiring to climb into something so old, tall, and well-preserved and be able to walk through all the original levels. The tsukimi yagura (moon viewing platform) was under wraps because of repair/preservation, but there were great views over the city of Matsumoto and the mountains from other windows inside the castle. Matsumoto is the second largest city in Nagano-ken and is surrounded by the Japanese Alps.

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Best tour ever! I was given a tour by Sho, director of the ALPS Language Service Association. If a nice Japanese man approaches you and offers to give you a free tour in English, the only possible answer is, “yes, please.” And when he insists on a picture together, the answer is, “of course.”

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