Matsushiro Castle, Sanada Treasures Museum, Former Bunbu Gakko (Matsushiro Literary and Military School)

The Sanada family gained fame between the civil war era and early in the Edo era. Matsushiro was a former castle town of Sanada Jyuman goku. And there are some Samurai residences, temples and gardens in existence here.

The Samurai residences remind you of those old days and the historical temples and gardens are closely connected to the Sanada family.
When you visit a historical place such as this, you can feel the heart, emotion and desire of the people of that era.

The Sanada Treasure Museum which exhibits the Sanada family treasures and the Former Sanada Residence with its beautiful garden and Former Bunbu School (Gakko) or Matsushiro Literary and Military School, where the sons of the clan members studied literature, military science and swordsmanship, convey the culture of the castle town to the present day.

  • matsushiro_castle Harunobu Takeda (also known as Shingen Takeda) built Matsushiro castle as a strategic base to occupy the northern territory of Shinano (former name of Nagano prefecture) in the Kawanakajima battle. Shingen Takeda ordered Yukitsuna Sanada (whose other name is Yukitaka Sanada) and others to capture Amakazari Castle in 1556. He ordered Yukitsuna Sanada and Masayuki Oyamada to keep and defend the castle. Later he built a big castle on the flat field by the Chikuma river and he appointed Toratsuna Kasuga (whose other name is Masatada Takasakadan) as the lord of the new castle. The construction year of the castle has not been established, although it seems to have begun around 1557. Completion probably occurred around 1561 when Kawanakajima battle was at its peak. This castle became the strategic base of Takeda force during this battle. The castle was originally called Kaitsu castle, however Tadateru Matsudaira changed its name into Matsu castle in 1603, and Yukimichi Sanada (1685~1727) changed it into Matsushiro again.


    The castle buildings were dismantled during the Meiji restoration as most of other castles in Japan. The gates and walls you see today have been renovated or reconstructed faithfully based on the old records. It is also called Kaizu. You can see the area of Kawanakajima and Mt. Saijo which gives you the great image of the battle of Kawanakajima.

    The new palace
    A residence of Matsushiro clan was reconstructed into the new palace (the former second house of Sanada family) for ladies. The palace was prepared for a feudal mother in low who returned from Edo after the abolition of the Sankin-kotai system. Its total landmass is about 8,580 square meters and the floor space of the palace is about 1,650 square meters. Two tenement houses are located on the both sides of Kabukimon gate at the palace entrance. In the palace, there are seven storehouses with thick mortar walls. These rooms house the heirlooms of Sanada family.

    Samurai residences still retain some vestige of the castle town
    You can see some Samurai residences such as the Yuzawa family’s residence and its dignified front gate.(The Yuzawa family was the top executive arm of the Sanada family). The Yokota family residence shows the Samurai life style of the Edo era.

    Such important structures in the Samurai era are preserved and maintained even nowadays. You can also enjoy a rickshaw tour which goes around the Samurai residences.

    Matsushiro Castle Era: Muromachi to Edo Proprietor: Nagano city and 27 people Designation: April 11th, 1981 Address: 44 Matsushiro-machi Matsushiro, Nagano, Nagano Prefecture 381-1231, Japan Hour: 9:00~17:00 Tel: 026-278-2801


  • Yukinori Sanada, who was a feudal-lord of Matsushiro clan, built the former Bunbu school in 1853. This school was opened in 1855. The school’s total area is 3,089 square meters. It has a floor space of 1,505 square meters. Certain areas of the school are utilized for specific purposes. These are:

    • Kenjutsujo for sword training.
    • Jujutsujo for jujutsu like Judo.
    • Kyujutsujo for archery.
    • Sojutsujo for spearmanship (Chokokuji temple is now utilized for this purpose).
    • Bungakujo for studying. There are two classrooms; Tojo (east building) and Seijo (west building).
    • The library called Bunkogura.
    • The living room for the feudal-lord.
    • School affairs office.
    • Officals room.
    • The room for security guards called Bansho.
    • The gate.

    The school retains the original structures and what it used to look. Close to Matsushiro Castle and across the road from the former Saneda Residence.

    The former Bunbu school gate and Kenjutsujo A Western military academy was opened at the school in December in 1870. It taught French style training methods and how to read foreign books. Men from the Matsushiro clan who were between the age of 8 and 30 years were forcible made to enter the school.

    The former Bunbu school gate and Kenjutsujo

    National Historical Monument of Former Matsushiro Literary and Military School (Bunbu Gakko) Year: 1853 Proprietor: Nagano city Designation: March 31st, 1953 Address: 205-1 Matsushiromachi Matsushiro, Nagano, Nagano Prefecture 381-1231, Japan Contact – Division of Cultural Heritage Board of Education Hour: 9:00~17:00 (Enter 30 min. before the closing time), Sanada Treasure Museum is closed every Tue. Admission: Combined ticket for museums ¥500 Tel: 026-278-2801, 026-278-6152 Fax: 026-278-2847


  • chokoji_temple_of_the_sanada_family
    The Chokoji temple is the temple of the Sanada family. One can find tombs of successive leaders of the Sanada family within the precincts of the Chokokuji temple.

    The mausoleum of Nobuyuki, the inaugural leader of the Sanada family, is located there. This structure is said to be built with the architectural style of Nikko Toshogu Shrine.

    The famous Chokoku-ji temple in the Soto sect is the family temple of Sanada family. This temple was moved from Ueda to Matsushiro when Nobuyuki Sanada was forced to move to Matsushiro in 1622. The tombs of the feudal lords such as Yukitaka of Sanada clan are contained here.


    The Sanada family continued to rule the Matsushiro clan for 250 years over ten generations and created a unique culture, continuing to this day. The Sanada family is famous for its coat-of-arms depicting six coins. This coat-of-arms can be seen on the roof of Chohkoku-ji temple which is the family temple of the Sanadas. This temple also contains the altar of Sanada Nobuyuki which is designated an important national asset.


    The tomb, which is 800 square meters in area, is located on the south of the Sanada family mausoleum. It is surrounded by a white mud wall. A dignified holy atmosphere covers the tomb. There are 21 tombstones called Hokyointo, 2 Jizo style tombstones and 12 garden lanterns in the tomb. The tombstone of the feudal lord, Nobuyuki Sanada, has a stone gate.

    Matsushiro feudal lord, Sanada family tomb in Nagona Chokoku-ji Temple Period: The early Edo era Proprietor: Chokoku-ji Temple Designation: December 25th, 1987 Address: 1015-1 Matsushiro-machi Matsushiro, Nagano, Nagano Prefecture 381-1231, Japan

    Tel: 026-278-2454

  • Sanada Treasures Museum of the Sanada family treasures are on public view, including samurai armour, swords and calligraphy. Various precious treasures of the Matsushiro clan’s history are on display. In Matsushiro castle town, also experience – Ancient Shirai house, Zozan (Xiangshan) Memorial Museum Hall, Old Yokota residential house, Matsushiro Castle, Changshan Temple House, Old Higuchi residential house, Old Maejima residential house, Ancient Matsushiro clan bell tower, Xiangshan Sakuma home, Yukari Sakuma building in Xiangshan Shrine.

    At Zozan Memorial Museum Hall various objects,writings and documents related to Zozan Sakuma are on display.

    A short walk around the places related to Sanada family: One-hour walking takes you to the Sanada residence, Sanada treasure museum and Bunbu school where people in the Sanada clan used to study.

    Sanada Treasure Museum
    Sanada House
    Former Bunbu School (Gakko) or Former Matsushiro Literary and Military School
    Ancient Shirai house
    Zozan (Xiangshan) Memorial Museum Hall
    Old Yokota residential house
    Matsushiro Castle
    Changshan Temple House
    Old Higuchi residential house
    Old Maejima residential house
    Ancient Matsushiro clan bell tower
    Xiangshan Sakuma home
    Yukari Sakuma building in Xiangshan Shrine
    Matsushiro Castle

    Matsushiro Castle/Sanada Treasures Museum (Sanadahoumotukan) 44 Matsushiro-machi Matsushiro, Nagano, Nagano Prefecture 381-1231, Japan Hour: 9:00 to 17:00, Closed on Tuesday and Dec.29 – Jan.3 Tel: 026-278-2801 (Matsushiro Castle/Sanada Treasures Museum), 026-278-2915 (Zozan Memorial Museum Hall) Public Transportation: Approximately 30 minutes ride from Nagano Bus Terminal and get down at the bus stop of “matsushiro”. 3 mins walk.


  • matsushiro_underground_bunker_or_tunnel_imperial_army_headquarter_nagona

    A complex of subterranean tunnels dug by Korean forced-laborers in a bid to provide an impregnable sanctuary for the Emperor and the organs of the Imperial Japanese government at the end of World War II. A 500m-stretch of tunnel can be entered and there is a small museum adjacent to the main entrance detailing the brutality of the treatment meted out to the construction workers on the site. This special chamber or shelter was constructed.