The Matsushiro district 松代町

If stones could talk...

The ancient town of Matsushiro is now a peaceful district in southern Nagano where the intriguing atmosphere of the Edo period still lingers. The old stately homes and the 100,000-stone castle are all traces left by the Sanada clan, which ruled the city for 300 years.

Set on a natural promontory on the banks of the Chikuma River, Matsushiro Castle has overlooked the city since the end of the 16th century. A dozen generations of Sanada have succeeded in this fortress with 100,000 goku (stones) . This national historic site, damaged in the early 19th century by a fire and restored in 2004, is very popular during the hanami period. It also attracts a good number of curious people during the Sanada jumangoku festival which is held every year at the beginning of October within its walls. During the latter, the parade brings together more than 250 people in costumes marching through the streets of the district. Taiko performances, dances and artillery demonstrations are also on the program for each edition.


Matsushiro Castle



A family's heritage

Not far from the castle, the Sanada Treasure Museum displays an impressive collection of 2,000 items on the history of Matsushiro. Armor, records, weapons, lacquerware, ceramics and artwork are mostly donated by the Sanada family. At the end of the visit, it is possible to put on the armor provided. An unusual opportunity to immortalize yourself as a samurai! Founded in 1547, Chokokuji Temple houses the tombs of the clan lords. Its roof bears the emblem of the Sanada as decoration; the rokumonsen (six openwork coins entrusted to the dead to pay for crossing the river of death).



Chokoku-ji, the temple of the Sanada clan


The Sanada Residence


The Bunbu Gakko provided courses in literature, medicine, martial arts and military tactics


A secret military base

The Matsushiro satoyama area where Mt. Minakami, Mt. Zozan, and Mt. Maizuruyama are located is the perfect place for hiking . You can access the Minakami jinja at the top of M ont Minakami , literally the mountain of "all gods", without any difficulty. Matsushiro's three peaks are particularly famous for housing the Matsushiro Daihonei , a 10 km underground refuge dug between November 11, 1944 and August 15, 1945. This series of tunnels, which remained unfinished, were to serve as Imperial headquarters during decisive battles of the end of World War II.



The entrance to the Underground Imperial Headquarters



An unusual tunnel


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