Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Crow Castle

At one time there were over 500 castles in Japan, but after the age of the shogun, the long series of civil wars came to an end and the country eventually unified under the ruling power of the Emperor. Most of the old feudal fortifications were either demolished or allowed to decay. Only 12 authentic Japanese castles survive to this day. 
This one is accessible without passport or jet lag... it's on Wolf Territories Grid.

Google Street view of the castle
Located on a wide and fertile  plain, within sight of the Japanese alps and about 3 hours northwest of Tokyo,  Matsumoto is one of the finest and best preserved of these castles. It's sometimes called 'Karasu' - the crow castle - because of its distinctive black color.  Strange, isn't it, how these symbols of oppression and violence have such a fond place in the collective memory, and a tool of warfare can kind of melt into a pretty building in a pleasing park in a prosaic little town. 
Perhaps it's the extraordinary features of military  architecture, or the sense of adventure and exciting history, or perhaps the idea that after a dangerous past, it's still possible to have a long and peaceful future, That's inspiring. 
Speaking of memory, the origins of this virtual castle are lost in the mists of Wolf Territories time. The grid is just that big that you can pop a castle or two here and there and not even think about it. But Lone Wolf. the grid owner, purchased and placed the castle on the grid because he is a fan of Chinese and Japanese art and architecture - hence (also) the grid's Lucky Dragon Casino.
The traditional method used in Japan to fireproof houses is called Yakisugi  焼杉  which means means 'burnt cypress'. You scorch the surface of planks, and that makes it harder for them to catch alight. It keeps the bugs out too. It also of course makes the boards black - hence the nickname 'crow castle'... it doesn't hurt, too, that its dark color made the building harder for enemies to spot in poor light. An invisible castle, that has to be a pretty amazing weapon.
This build on Wolf Territories takes some delicious liberties with the location of the castle, positing it in an azure sea rather than awash with neat treeline streets, or the filled-in moats that now form the park around the buildings. This is way more romantic. The various structures - and there are a lot! - are no mere facades, you can walk through room after room, many of them furnished, or with hints of ancient wallpaper, and if you find the staircases kind of steep, why that's exactly how they are in the real castle. 
If you're ever lucky enough to go to Japan and see this building for yourself, you'll find that the public queuing for a ticket are entertained by a couple of 'Samurai' actors. Inworld, if you search for it, you'll see this handsome suit of armor.
The central tower - five floors high (or six? can you find the hidden level?) is defended from both attackers and the effects of sun and rain by heavy dark wooden shutters. Foes could be foiled by the maze-like, narrow passages throughout the castle, and it's quite bewildering even when you visit by cam and tp.
The moon pavilion
But it's not all defensive. in the 1600s the Shogun had a moon viewing pavilion added to the complex.
Karasu on Wolf Territories is just one of hundreds of regions that you can explore, either on foot, by tp, in a boat or on horseback. So much to see!

HG Address: castle