Monday, March 12, 2012

My first visit to a castle, Matsumoto Castle in Nagano

On my way to my first castle, which is in the Nagano prefecture.  Nagano might sound familiar because it was the site of the 1998 winter olympics (not sure who watches the winter olympics).  So, being one of the official sites of the winter olympics means that the cold experienced in this part of town is LEGIT.  Luckily I had a full body thermal to keep me warm (although I didn't have a beanie, stupid packages from cali to japan are taking a damned long time to arrive).

So, back to this castle.  This is Matsumoto castle, which was nicknamed "Crow Castle" due to its paint job--it's mostly all black!  The castle was erected in the 16th century, and besides for minor renovations and repair (secondary to earthquake damage), it mostly looks as it did way back when.  It's considered one of Japan's national treasures.

After a four hour long bus ride, this was my view upon exiting the bus:

Lovely contrast of the red bridge on the white and black castle, yes?

I thought these were goofy.  They're just small posts, but the ones on the right were untouched, which made it look like they were balancing little snowballs.

The pictures are clickable.  This one should be readable once it's all loaded up.

Because Matsumoto castle is not built on a hill, there were numerous areas on each side of the building which allowed for bow+arrow and musket defense.  These elongated windows were intended for archers to take down advancing troops from afar.

And this stubby window was used with those musket-looking guns instead.

A view from the main keep into the moon-viewing room.

Look at that sum'bitch, it could shoot golf balls!

The castle was deceptively cold as there were windows all over the place.  Oddly enough I didn't see any areas for fireplaces either. They didn't mention how the occupants kept warm.

The stairs in the castle are unlike the normal stairs you'd find...hell, anywhere.  They vary in steepness, with some steps nearing about 8-10 inches in height, which doesn't sound like much, but when you're faced with 10-15 of them, you're practically staring at a tilted wall with mini ledges.

This is the roof of the tower, with me looking directly upwards, showing the dedication to the goddess described in that last picture.  It's supposed to be the reason why the castle is still standing to this day!

This was the warning posted at the TOP of the steepest stairs in the whole castle.  Note, AT THE TOP, as in, you've already made it to the top.

The big overhang that one does not see, thanks to the graphical warning picture being located in the wrong place.  I was met with a largely wooden resounding fuck you as I bashed my head into it.  "Fucka you," is what it would have said if it could speak.

The room below, the moon viewing room, was my favorite room in the whole castle.  One can imagine that at night it would really offer a beautiful view of the night sky.

Sorry about the white balance, my camera phone is slow to adapt.

Thanks to michelle for finding these on zappos.  They're PVC shoe-covers that I slipped over my keep's.  Allowed my feet to stay dry AND they provided extra grip.

Menacing, pretty?  It's like the trent reznor of freaking castles.

It was so cold out that I didn't have good control over my own facial expressions.  In my head I thought I looked a lot cooler with the blade in hand.  Hah, stupid cold weather.

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