Good AM from Owakudani! We're getting ready to head out to Matsumoto, where we would visit the photogenic Matsumoto Castle, or Black Crow Castle, dating back over 400 years. I've never been to this castle before, but I could tell you that it was absolutely freezing out here! It is a "hirajiro" - a castle built on plains rather than on a hill or mountain. Matsumoto Castle is unique for having both a secondary donjon and a turret adjoined to its main keep. The castle structures, in combination with their characteristic black wainscoting, give off an air of grandeur and poise.
From there, we continued onto Takayama. This city is located amongst the Japanese Alps and is known as "Little Kyoto" for its preserved historical structures and environment. Due to its remote position in the mountains, it was cut off from the rest of Japan for most of its history and thus has maintained a very unique and traditional atmosphere. We spent most of the time exploring the old town of Takayama. There were lots of shops to buy produce, snacks, small bites, and various accessories.
Our last stop for today was Takayama Jinya, the only traditional local government office in existence and a fine example of a miniature palace containing offices, an interrogation room with torture devices and a 440 year old rice granary.