How do you describe something often? For instance, “That building is like a tower!” “You are like that famous actor!” Probably Japanese people in the past were good at doing that too, and then they gave a good nickname to it. I have a good example for you to prove it. There is a famous, big castle called Himeji castle in Hyogo prefecture. Its official name is Himeji castle but it has a nickname too – Shirosagi castle. Shirosagi means white heron. Since Himeji castle is white all over it and looks like a bird, so people would see it as a white bird Shirosagi. What a great describing! Shirosagi castle is in western Japan. And there is a castle called Kurosagi in eastern Japan too. Shiro and Kuro as in these name is Japanese color names for white and black. Not only they have something in common but also have something opposite. Kurosagi castle is designated to Japan’s national treasure too. The black color castle and located in eastern Japan. Is it a destiny?

Castle with lantern

The proper name for Kurosagi castle is Matsumoto castle. It is located in Matsumoto city in Nagano prefecture. Since the city is so accessible that you can go there easily by public transportation. When you enter the place, you might be surprised by how small the castle actually is. Matsumoto castle is not as big as Himeji castle. But it will win in terms of the darkness of the color. The color is much darker than a typical castle. Matsumoto castle was built in the late Warring States period. Also during that period, guns were the common weapon and sudden attacks were considered to be the best way in a battle. Firing a gun from a hole of the black hall was a good strategy. That is how it is black.

Matsumoto castle from its side

No one knows the exact beginning of the castle history. On some history books, it started since Takeda family ended. After Takeda family’s end, Oda Nobunaga took a control over the area around the castle. But when Oda Nobunaga died, everything were messed up. But a guy in Ogasawara family considered this to be a good chance to take over the castle and he did it with a lot of help of his men. The castle became Ogasawara family’s property since then. He started building a town surrounded by the castle and adding new parts to make the castle bigger.

Even after the owner of the castle changed, it went on. So today Matsumoto castle is known as one of the biggest castles in Japan. You can see a unique feature on the roof of the castle. Nagano prefecture has heavy snow in winter seasons, so the roof was made steep to make snow go down. The black walls are repainted every autumn. People are trying to keep the castle beautiful. Thanks to those kind of help, the castle can connect past, present and future. Try to feel its long history at Matsumoto castle. Once you know the backstory of the castle, you would love it more than before.

The castle lightning at night

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