Matsushiro Samurai School / 松代藩文武学校(長野県)


Matsushiro Samurai School / 松代藩文武学校

The Matsushiro Samurai School, Bunbu Gakko, was the domain school for the sons of the Sanada
clan and its vassals. It is the only former school for the children of samurai with all study halls
and training facilities remaining in original condition.




Located in Matsushiro, central Nagano Prefecture, a school was established in the early 1600’s
by the famed warrior Sanada Yukimura’s elder brother, Sanada Nobuyuki, when he was installed
as the region’s feudal lord in 1622. Nobuyuki encouraged the literary studies and martial education
of his samurai, and the school flourished. In 1855, towards the end of the Edo period, the current
surviving campus was constructed by Lord Sanada Yukinori.


The samurai were required to study various literary as well military arts, and the Matsushiro Samurai
School and others like it in every domain across the nation catered to their needs. They studied
various kenjutsu sword disciplines, archery, spear and Jujutsu wrestling techniques. They practiced
reading and writing using Chinese classics such as the Art of War, and Confucian ethics. Medicines of the
East and West were taught at the school, and later, Western sciences, artillery and even tactics were
also added to the curriculum.








The simple, tatami matted study rooms take the visitor back to the Edo period, and you can imagine
the students sitting on the floors in rows pouring over their books on low tables. Likewise, the martial
art dojo training halls are stunning. Around the wood floored training areas are sections with tatami
mats for the instructors to observe their students, while above them, sturdy timber support beams
criss-cross the ceiling. Interestingly, these antique dojo are still in use today.










Many of the nation’s Bunbu Gakko samurai schools were closed or destroyed at the end of Japan’s feudal period. Many others were rebuilt as modern schools open to the common folk as well. As such, the numbers of such traditional samurai schools disappeared. The Matsushiro Samurai School is one of the last remaining, and the best preserved. In 1953, the buildings were designated National Important Tangible Assets.


Because of it’s authentic atmosphere, with its wonderfully preserved traditional architecture featuring rich dark timbers and old styled mud walls, the school is often used for location scenes in samurai genre movies and period dramas. Tourists too are drawn to the simple, yet elegant structures for a taste of old Japan.








※ Due to reconstruction efforts, parts of the facility may be closed from July 2013.




View Larger Map


Address:205-1 Matsushiro, Matsushiro Cho, Nagano City, Nagano Pref.




Open:9:00am~5:00pm(Last entry at 4:30pm)

    Open most days. Best to check in advance.


Admission:160 Yen for adults, 60 yen for middle school students and under.



Access:JR Nagano Station-Matsushiro Station (30 minutes)

              7 minutes walk from Matsushiro Station.



WEB: (Japanese Only)

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