Fukashi Castle (From 1504 to 1582)
In ancient times, the region of Matsumoto was called Fukashi. Thus, the original castle built by Lord Shimadachi Sadanaga in 1504 was named Fukashi Castle. The location of the castle was not chosen by chance. This site is said to have been divinely selected and is believed to be a sacred place.
Matsumoto Castle (From 1582 to 1590)
In 1582, after being momentarily chased away from the domain, Lord Sadayoshi Ogasawara returned to capture Fukashi Castle by cleverly subverting the castle’s defenders. He then had the fortress renamed Matsumoto Castle.
The construction of the current Matsumoto Castle (From 1590)
In 1590 Ishikawa Kazumasa was appointed the new lord of Matsumoto Castle by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the unifier of Japan. Under Ishikawa’s orders, construction began on the towers of the current Matsumoto Castle, including the Tensho (Donjon Tower) and Honmaru Palace (Lord’s Palace). Completion of the Donjon Tower was left to his son, Ishikawa Yasunaga.
The Donjon Tower and the castle complex (1593 and 1594)
In addition to the main keep, Ishikawa Yasunaga also completed construction on other towers, first and second enclosure residences (goten), the Kuromon and Taikoman gates, moats (hori) and other structures. At its height Matsumoto Castle contained more than just the castle keep we see today, but an entire surrounding citadel complex as well. It is estimated that the towers were completed during years 2 and 3 of the Bonroku Era (1593-1594).
The succeeding Lords of Matsumoto Castle (From 1590 to 1868)
Many lords succeeded one after another for nearly 280 years until the feudal system was abolished at the beginning of the Meiji Era in 1868. A total of 23 lords ruled the castle during this period. During Lord Matsudaira Naomasa’s rein in 1633, the Moon Viewing Wing of the castle was completed.
The Lord Toda Mitsunori and the Meiji Restoration (From 1868 to 1871)
The Toda family had reigned over Matsumoto for 9 generations, from 1726 to 1869. Shortly after gaining power in 1726, the Toda family lost the Honmaru Palace to fire in 1727. The Palace has never been fully restored as it was. At the end of Lord Toda Mitsunori’s reign in 1869, the domain was handed over to the Emperor, who then appointed Lord Toda as the governor of the Matsumoto domain.
The creation of Matsumoto Prefecture (1871)
In 1871, the feudal system was abolished and the Matsumoto Prefecture was established. Lord Toda Mitsunori then resigned as governor and left Matsumoto to retire in Tokyo. Matsumoto Castle was placed under the jurisdiction of the newly formed national government in Tokyo.