On May 15, 2015, Matsue Castle was deemed a National Treasure!
It was already Important Cultural Property and one of the twelve remaining original castles of Japan, noted especially for the atmosphere within from its wooden floors, pillars, and stairs, steep and uneven with the same character they had when the castle was completed back in 1611. It is now the fifth castle around Japan to enjoy this status, one that a dedicated citizens’ group had long been working to achieve. Matsue Castle has a history of relying on its citizens, as it was only due to the citizens’ insistence and fundraising to purchase it from the government that it was saved from being burned down during the Meiji Period, when many castles were deemed unnecessary by the Westernizing government and subsequently torn down (only to be rebuilt in concrete years later). The black castle, affectionately nicknamed Chidori-jo (Plover Castle) for its sweeping, gabled roofs, and the original rock walls and moats and canals, and even the town layout designed to protect the castle from intruding armies remain much as the same as they were in the Edo period.
It’s okay to be a little jealous that I get to see this National Treasure every day from my window. Life here is pretty cool.