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Matsushiro Castle
Nagano, Nagano Prefecture, Japan
Matsushiro Castle 20100919-03.jpg
Matsushiro Castle moats and reconstructed gate
Type flatland-style Japanese castle
Coordinates Latitude:
Built 1560
Built by Takeda Shingen
In use Edo period
Demolished 1872
partially reconstructed
Open to
the public

Matsushiro Castle (松代城 Matsushiro-jō?) is a Japanese castle located in former Matsushiro town, now part of the city of Nagano, northern Nagano Prefecture, Japan. At the end of the Edo period, Matsushiro Castle was home to the Sanada clan, daimyō of Matsushiro Domain.[1] The site is a registered National Historic Site by the Japanese government.[2]


Plan of Matsushiro Castle

Matsushiro Castle is located in the flatlands of northern Nagano, in between the main stream of the Chikuma River and an old bed of the river, which serves as a broad outer moat on the north side of the castle. Due to its location, the castle (and surrounding castle town was subjected to occasional flooding.

The design of the castle is concentric, with the Central Bailey (Hon-Maru) [1] protected by walls, and containing the donjon in its northwest corner, which was later replaced by a yagura. The Central Bailey was surrounded by a moat, which was in turn surrounded completely by the Second Bailey (Ni-no-Maru) [2], which had earthen ramparts except for areas around its gates. The Second Bailey had a wide dry moat [S] on its south and east, and the Third Bailey (San-no-Maru) [3]. The palace structures were located adjacent to the main fortifications in the Hana-no-Maru enclosure [H].


The first castle on this site was built in 1560 by Yamamoto Kansuke, under the direction of Takeda Shingen and was called Kaizu Castle ( 海津城 Kaizu-jō?) Kōsaka Danjo, Kōsaka Masanobu a Takeda retainer, was its first commander. Takeda Shingen used the castle for the ongoing conflict with Uesugi Kenshin for control of the northern part of Shinano Province. The site is also close to the location of the Battle of Kawanakajima, where the Takeda and Uesugi forces repeatedly clashed.[3] After the fall of the Takeda clan, Oda Nobunaga eventually took control. However, when he was assassinated in the Honnō-ji incident in 1582, Uesugi Kagekatsu recovered northern Shinano. Under Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the Uesugi were relocated to Aizu. Fooling Hideyoshi's death and the Battle of Sekigahara, the Tokugawa shogunate ordered Sanada Nobuyuki to relocate here in 1622 from his former domains at Ueda as the daimyō of Matsushiro Domain.

The castle's name was changed to from Kaizu Castle to Matsushiro Castle by Sanada Yukimichi, the third generation of Sanada daimyō in 1711.[4] The castle burned down in 1717, but was restored in 1718, partly through the donation of 10,000 ryō for its reconstruction by the Tokugawa shogunate. In 1742, the castle was severely damaged by a flood, and reconstruction took until 1758. The palace structures were relocated to the Hana-no-Maru enclosure in 1770 and were rebuilt in 1804; however, much of the castle was destroyed in 1847 by an earthquake. The palace burned down in 1853 again, but was soon rebuilt. A secondary palace outside the castle enclosure was completed in 1864.

Following the establishment of the Meiji government and the abolition of the han system, most of the remaining structures of the castle were dismantled in 1871, and what was left was burned down in an act of arson in 1873, leaving only the stone foundations.[5]

Current site

On the current site, several of the gates were authentically reconstructed in 2003 using traditional construction methods, with designs based on documents and photographs of the originals. The remparts and moats have been repaired. The castle is a registered National Historic Site.[6] Near the castle are a number of Edo period former samurai residences, the former han school and a museum dedicated to the Sanada clan.

Matsushiro Castle was listed as one of the 100 Fine Castles of Japan by the Japan Castle Foundation in 2006.


Takada, Toru: Matsushiro-jo in: Miura, Masayuki (eds): Shiro to Jinya. Tokoku-hen. Gakken, 2006. ISBN 978-4-05-604378-5, S. 128th

  • Schmorleitz, Morton S. (1974). Castles in Japan. Tokyo: Charles E. Tuttle Co.. pp. 144–145. ISBN 0-8048-1102-4. 
  • Motoo, Hinago (1986). Japanese Castles. Tokyo: Kodansha. p. 200 pages. ISBN 0-87011-766-1. 
  • Mitchelhill, Jennifer (2004). Castles of the Samurai: Power and Beauty. Tokyo: Kodansha. p. 112 pages. ISBN 4-7700-2954-3. 
  • Turnbull, Stephen (2003). Japanese Castles 1540-1640. Osprey Publishing. p. 64 pages. ISBN 1-84176-429-9. 

External links


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