Matsumoto Museum

We didn’t visit many traditional museums on our Asia trip. We did visit a number that were part of a historical building or dedicated to a specific purpose (such as the Genocide Museum in Cambodia), but very few that were more general. However I mentioned in a previous blog that as part of our ticket for Matsumoto Castle it included entry to Matsumoto Museum and we are not one to pass up the opportunity to a bargain we decided to check it out.

The museum was fairly small and divided across three floors entering on the ground floor there was a shop where our tickets were checked. We were advised to start in the basement floor and work our way up.

In the basement floor there were older, more traditional, artefacts from when the castle was in use. Most of the signage was in Japanese so it was difficult to tell the significance of most of the pieces. However there were a few that were obvious such as the samurai armour.

There was also a model of Matsumoto as it would have been in the days of the castle, which was interesting to see, but difficult to get a photograph of without a glare on the glass from the rest of the lighting in the room.


We didn’t spend a lot of time on the basement floor before coming back up to the ground floor. The ground floor was full of traditional art from the region. Some of these were very unusual. There were two types of doll on display, the first was a wooden doll which reminded me slightly of the funeral figures we had seen in Seoul. I believe these dolls were hung outside houses for a particular festival and had material clothes draped on them.


The second type of doll were beautiful fabric dolls that were more two dimensional made of layers of wonderful fabric arranged to look dynamic and alive.

There were some bamboo weaving in the forms of fans and other shapes.


And some very intricate items described as thread balls, which I thought were incredibly pretty. Apparently they used to be toys for the princesses of Matsumoto. I liked them so much that I bought a replica in the gift shop.


While there was a lot more English in this floor there were still some unexplained items, including what I assumed at the time were fertility symbols, although having learned more recently that Japan has a “Festival of the Steel Phallus” it could be related to that and a boat with some familiar looking characters on it which I am sure I have seen in a painting somewhere but I am not sure where.

Finally we made our way upstairs where there was a small special exhibition on, however again we couldn’t really understand it but there was some impressive armour and blades on display.

It was a nice little museum, quite interesting especially as it was included in the price for the castle visit. I am not surprised that much of the information was in Japanese only as it was a fairly small facility and I do not expect to find English everywhere I go, it was interesting just to look at the items on display and in some cases try to figure out what they were or their purpose.

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