Japan has many wonderful castles, but my favourite is probably Matsumoto Castle in Nagano prefecture. Matsumoto was the first place that I went to on my first (of what was to become many) JR Passes (whereby you can travel around Japan on Japan Railway (JR) trains without having to buy separate tickets) in 1992. That first visit hadn’t got off to a good start when I got lost in the underground network of passages of Shinjuku station, nearly missing my train. I then sat down in the Green Car (first class) rather than where I was supposed to be until I realised something might be wrong when I started getting at-seat service.
I went back to Matsumoto in 1994 while based in Seto on the JET Programme. That is when the photographs in this post were taken (hence the low quality). Although I have been back to Matsumoto since then, I haven’t had a chance to revisit the castle and take pictures on a better camera.
Matsumoto, and the castle, come into my first novel, Hijacking Japan. The castle gets a passing mention due to the location of something that happens in the story (originally this was going to happen at Ueda castle). The design of Matsumoto Castle also provided inspiration for part of the design of the fictional club, Kiyomizu (which I got its name as the temple in Kyoto is one of my favourite spots in Kyoto), at the start of the book. One of the main characters is also called Matsumoto.