Matsumoto Castle, National Treasure of Japan
Value of Matsumoto Castle

The age of the castle construction

Formal opinions of Matsumoto city regarding the age of the castle construction

  • There are many theories about the age when Matsumoto Castle was built. According to "Integrated Catalog Database of Designated Cultural Properties: Buildings" published by the Committee for the Protection of Cultural Properties in Showa 33 (1958), the castle was considered to be constructed from Bunroku 3 (1594) to Keicho 1 (1596). On the other hand, "Catalog Database of National Treasures and Important Cultural Properties" published by the director of Cultural Properties Department in Agency for Cultural Affairs in Heisei 24 (2012) suggests that the Inuiko castle building was built in Bunroku 1 (1592), and main castle and Watari tower were constructed in Genna 1 (1615).

    Matsumoto city organized "National Treasure Matsumoto Castle Conference regarding the Construction Age," marking the 400th anniversary of the castle construction. The first chairman was Madoka Kanai, a professor of Tokyo University. The conference aimed to identify the actual age of the Matsumoto Castle construction. In the conference, people investigate the documents regarding the era of Ishikawa clan and other materials such as pedigrees, historical records of shrines, chronicles, memorandums and oral records.

    What they considered were:

    1. it is very likely that the Kosanji palace was constructed in the era of Kazumasa Ishikawa;
    2. it is likely that the castle was constructed mainly in Bunroku 3 (1595), supported by the facts that there was much folklore regarding the castle construction found in the era of Yasunaga and the sentence "In Bunroku 2 (1594) the second Ishikawa built the castle, I served to the construction and received the rewards";
    3. As there are many castles constructed for a short time, including Ogura, Fushimi, Sunpu and Himeji castles, it is not unnatural that Matsumoto castle was also built for a short period;
    4. It is not possible that the Inuiko castle building was built at the age of Kazumasa and the main castle was constructed in the era of Yasunaga because we cannot identify which hashira-ma (space between columns) and wooden materials are older than the other due to the lack of written materials regarding the difference between Edo and Kyo hashira-ma, while it is said that Edo hashira-ma is older than the other, and
    5. it is likely that many wooden materials used for Fukashi castle or watchtowers created by Kazumasa were reused for the Inuiko castle building.

    Takin these results of the investigation into consideration, we provided the following answers as "highly possible presumptions."

    Tensho 18 (1590)Kazumasa Ishikawa, as the founder of Matsumoto castle, entered into the castle.
    Tensho 19 (1591)Ninomaru-Kosanji palace seemed to be built.
    Bunroku 1 (1592)Mitsunaga (Yasunaga) Ishikawa, the builder of the main castle building took over the castle management.
    Bunroku 2 (1593)Mitsunaga Ishikawa seemed to procure wooden materials for the main castle building in spring. Artificer Nagai seemed to start the construction of the nawabari-layout.
    Bunroku 3 (1954)Mitsunaga might complete the construction of the main castle building. Prohibition for using water wells in Genchi was introduced.
    Bunroku 4 (1595)Warrior residences in Miyamuramachi and residences for merchants in Higashicho in March were constructed.

    As a result, while there were no firm proof, we concluded that the main castle building was likely to be constructed from Bunroku 2 to 3 (1594-5) and the Inuiko castle building, Watari tower and the main castle tower were built after that. The current formal opinions of Matsumoto city are based on these results of the investigation. We are trying to conduct further investigation using the methods comparing different architectural styles of the castles in Japan and dendrochronology.

    We would like to introduce other theories here.

    Start of the construction of the castle
    Although some theories insist that the construction of the castle was started in Tensho 19 (1591) by Ishikawa clan, most theories suggest Bunroku 2 or 3 (1594 or 5).

    The age of the completion of the construction
    There are different opinions suggesting Bunroku 4 (1596), Keicho 2 (1597), 5 (1600) or 6 (1601). Among the theories arguing the construction periods of the Inuiko castle building and the castle tower were different, some suggests that the Inuiko castle building was built at Bunroku era while the castle tower was constructed in Keicho 20 (1615).