Matsumoto Castle protected by citizens
Ryozo Ichikawa and Unari Kobayashi
From Meiji period, citizens have protected Matsumoto castle.
The first crisis for Matsumoto castle was destruction. Given the new government’s intention, many castles were destroyed. Honmaru and the main castle building of Matsumoto castle were passed from Matsumoto Prefecture to the Ministry of the Military in October Meiji 4 (1871). In the first edition of “Shinpi Newspaper” published in October Meiji 5 (1872), there was the article saying “the main castle and watch tower of Matsumoto castle were purchased at 235 tael and 150 mon.”
I can be considered that the main castle building was not destroyed as Matsumoto was the place for the establishment of the branch of Nagoya Garrison which was built in January Meiji 6 (1873).
Ryozo Ichikawa was the person who was concerned with this situation. Ichikawa was born in Shimoyokotacho near Matsumoto castle in Tenpo 15 (1844). He was appointed as the officer called “kimoiri” and the vice mayor of Shimoyokotacho. Ichikawa submitted a written proposal to Chikuma Prefecture in November, proposing the exhibition held in Honmaru and the main castle building of Matsumoto castle as it could make people’s minds open with the spectacular buildings.
He offered the use of Honmaru and the main castle, saying “As we can provide 330 tael by fundraising and pay land taxes, please suspend the destruction of Matsumoto castle.”
Consequently, beginning with the first exhibition in November Meiji 6 (1873), the exhibitions were held five times in total at the main castle building of Matsumoto castle until Meiji 9 (1876). The newspaper reported that there were more than 4000-5000 visitors everyday in the first exhibition. It can be said that this exhibition stimulated people’s interest in Matsumoto castle as it was the first time for most of the people to visit there. The castle thus remained due to the exhibition.
The second crisis for Matsumoto castle was damage. As the exhibition was finished along with the lost of Chikuma Prefecture in Meiji 9 (1876), the castle was not sufficiently managed. The appearance of the castle was heavily damaged, and the columns supporting the foundation of the castle were weathering. The main castle building was leaning to one side. Unari Kobayashi, the headmaster of Matsumoto Junior High School located in Nagano Prefecture, was the person who was concerned with this second crisis.
Kobayashi was from Hakatamura village, Senboku District, Osaka. His family was the karo of Hakata-han. He was appointed as the headmaster when the junior high school was established in Matsumoto. In Meiji 35 (1902), as the schoolyard of the school in Ninomaru needed to be expanded, Honmaru which was used by the Matsumoto Agriculture Committee was used for the expansion. At that time Kobayashi insisted the repair construction of the main castle building which was significantly damaged, and established the “Matsumoto Castle Preservation Institute with Yorinaga Ori, the mayor of Matsumoto city. They raised funds and started the repair construction which was completed in Taisho 2 (1913). Kobayashi passed away next year after this repair was finished.
Ryozo Ichikawa and Unari Kobayashi were honored as benefactors of Matsumoto castle, as they accomplished conservation and repair of the castle supported by citizens during Meiji period.
From Meiji period, citizens have made great efforts to protect Matsumoto castle, such as cleaning activities. Now many local people participate in cleaning activities to maintain Matsumoto castle. Moreover, some volunteer organizations are working with visitors in order to let them have a good time in Matsumoto.
There is an organization called “Matsumoto Old Castle Organization,” supporting the event management, conducting conservation activities and investigation in order to stimulate sightseeing, culture and economy in Matsumoto. This organization recommended National Treasure Matsumoto castle to be registered as World Cultural Heritage, and now the executive committee is conducting many activities.