“The night gathers, and now my watch begins…”
— From the oath of the Night’s Watch
Sorry to disappoint, but this castle has nothing to do with Game of Thrones.
“Crow Castle” is actually a nickname for Matsumoto Castle, a castle that differentiates itself from others in Japan by having a black exterior. It is also one of only a handful which has an original tenshu, or main keep. That’s right, whereas other castles were destroyed by war and rebuilt (Osaka Castle), or abandoned, left to the elements, and eventually demolished (Kanayama Castle Ruins), this castle has survived. Granted, it did start to lean at one point… but it’s all good now.
This means Matsumoto Castle is a great chance to get a feel for what a Japanese castle could have been like back in the day. There are steep, narrow staircases, a hidden floor to fool attackers, weathered floors, a moon-viewing room (very Japanese), and narrow windows for shooting arrows from. There are also some displays on the inside, showing visitors weapons from that time, with explanations in Japanese AND English! Bonus!