The Official Tourism Site of Matsumoto, Nagano, Japan
The Matsumoto Welcomes You website has been renewed and is now Visit Matsumoto (! We are still working on fixing a few problems and you may notice some links do not work yet. We will fix them as soon as possible. Thank you for your patience and understanding!


Event Schedule

Event Schedule 2017-2018 is here.

Event Calender

Events Held at Matsumoto Castle

See here.

Major Events


Shiga Fukujuso Festival (March)

Fukujuso (Far East Amur adonis) is the earliest wildflower to bloom in Matsumoto. It's a sign that the long winter is coming to an end, and that spring is just around the corner. So, I feel happy when I see the flowers for the first time in a year.
See also an announcement of 2013 in "What's New" Blog.

Date Early–late March (In 2018: Mar 10–21)
Place Shiga Akanuta Fukujuso Park
Charge Free

Nighttime Cherry Blossom Viewing (April)

Every day while the cherry blossoms (sakura) are in bloom around Matsumoto Castle, guests who visit the castle in the evening will be treated to the sight of illuminated cherry trees.  Entry into the interior garden of the castle is free for this event, and hot miso soup with pork (tonjiru) and sweet rice dumplings will be available for purchase.  There's also Japanese tea and seating available for ¥500, making it easy to sit and relax and enjoy an unusual flower viewing experience.  Perfomances of the Japanese koto, the flute, and classical gagaku music will also be held each night.
See also "Cherry Blossom Live Camera" page.

Date Three days after cherries begin blooming - 8 days (2017: April 13–20)
Hours Around 5:30 pm–9:00 pm
Place Matsumoto Castle
Charge Free, ¥500 for tea

Ofune Festival (May)

One of the odder local festivals is the Yamabe "Ofune Matsuri" It is also one of the oldest, and in need of a decent historical explanation. Maybe a more native resident can do the honours?. See more in the blog article covering the 2017 festival (with videos) and in our Anchors aweigh article. Also of interest is the Onbashira Festival held in May every six years in the same area (next in 2023).

Date May 4th and 5th
Place Bus/taxi to Satoyamabe & walk (10–15 mins)


Harquebuses Shooting Event (April or May, October)

Harquebus collectors wearing 16–17th century samurai-style dress carried their harquebuses and were shooting in the garden of the castle. See this page in Events Held in Matsumoto Castle about the details..

Date Apr 29th & in 2017, also on Oct 15th
Place Matsumoto castle

Craft Fair Matsumoto (May)

This is one of the biggest craft fairs in Japan.
You can enjoy many kinds of craft arts; woodwork, celamic work, glass-working, smithing, and so on.
See also a report of 2007, 2008 2009 and 2014 in "What's New" Blog.
An article from The Japan Times Matsumoto in May means "crafts"

Date Last Sat and Sun in May (2017: May 27–28)
Place Agatanomori Park


Tour de Utsukushigahara (June)

An annual bicycle race to the top of Utsukushigahara from Asama Onsen, starting at the parking lot by the baseball stadium. A masochistic 21 kilometer climb up to nearly 2,000 meters.
NB Road up the mountain is closed from early morning for the duration of the race. Access on foot/by bike possible, or get there early & park at the top, or Misuzuko (lake).
See also a report of 2017 in "What's New" Blog.

Date Last Sun in June
Place Asama Hot Spring to Utsukushigahara
Entry fee ¥5,000
Web page (Japanese only, sorry)

Heavenly Marathon in Norikura (June)

A marathon event that is getting popular among runners all over Japan since it is a unique summer marathon. Runners run up to an altitude of 2,700 meters halfway up Mt. Norikura. 1,200 runners entered in 2008.
It is a good and beautiful season to sightsee in Norikura if the weather is not bad. Norikura is famous for snow remaining in summer. There are three to five meter high snow walls on both sides of the road even in June.
See also a report of 2008 in "What's New" Blog.

Date Sun in late June (the 18th in 2017)
Place Norikura Highlands
Entry fee ¥3,500

Yasaka-sama Festival (July 14th)

July 14th and 15th is a day to celebrate ”Yasaka-sama(Yasaka God)" at Fukashi - Shrine, Okanomiya - Shrine and Shiogama - Shrine in downtown Matsumoto. The night of July 14th, local kids in downtown area visit their neighborhood shrines to pray for their happiness by offering banners made of reed and paper. On the banner, each child writes with calligraphic brush strokes, ”To Mighty Yasaka God" along with name and age. The special banners and reeds for this event are sold at local super markets only for this day.

Date July 14th
Place Fukashi, Okanomiya, Shiogama Shrine

Taiko Drum Festival (July)

Part of Matsumoto's exciting group of summer festivals (see also Bon-Bon and Takigi Noh below), the summer Taiko festival at Matsumoto Castle features some of the best taiko groups in Japan. Come early to get a seat, and see and hear the traditional Taiko drummers in the postcard-perfect setting of the castle. As the sky darkens and night approaches, watching and feeling the power of the taiko drums with the silhouette backdrop of the castle is truly one of Matsumoto's finest summer moments.
See also report 1, 2, 3 of 2007, 1, 2 of 2009 and 2010 in "What's New" Blog and 2011's leaflet PDFs (front pages, English, 2.1MB, back (inside) pages, multilingual, 1.6MB).

Date Last Sat–Sun in July
Hours 1:30–3:45 pm; 5:30–9 pm
Place Square in front of Matsumoto Station, etc (until 3:45 pm); Matsumoto castle (from 3:50 pm)
Charge Free
Details here

Tenjin Festival (July)

The night of 24th, the local people visit Fukashi-Shirine to pray for Tenjin-God.
Within the precinct of the shrine, 18 floats from every neighborhood around the shrine are displayed under the bright light. Food stalls with various Japanese fast food are everywhere in the shrine.
From 2 pm on the 25th, Mikoshi (a symbol of the shrine which people carry around the town to celebrate) and floats parade in down town area.
See also a report of 2008 and a report of 2010 in "What's New" Blog.

Date July 24th–25th
Place Fukashi Shirine, Matsumoto Downtown
Charge Free

Takigi Noh (August)

Noh, one of the traditional dramatic arts of Japan, is famous for its masks and its lavish costumes.  Usually a Noh performance is given in a Noh theatre, on a Noh stage specially designed for the performance

But every August in Matsumoto a special outdoor performance is given right in the inner garden of Matsumoto castle, starting in the early evening and continuing by lanternlight after the sun sets.  Noh plays are hundreds of years old and sung in their own peculiar way, and most Japanese audience members are just as lost as the foreigners in attendance as far as the dialogue goes.  But the nighttime staging of the Takigi Noh gives the symbol-heavy and supernatural dramas back a bit of the atmosphere that they once had, and the kyogen ("crazy talk") comedies in between the two short Noh plays help relieve the tension with lots of physical comedy about drinking and getting the best of your feudal lord.

See also this article in "What's New" Blog

Date August 8th
Hours 5–8 pm
Place Matsumoto castle
Charge Free

Matsumoto Bon-Bon (August)

What's 'Bon-Bon' and why's the whole city dancing in the street...?? You need to see it to believe it! Feel the heat in the street, as Matsumoto's unique Bon-Bon Festival captures the town for one exciting evening every summer. It's part parade, part dance, part party and part carnival as each group sports its own costume, and parades through the downtown streets while dancing to the catchy Matsumoto Bon-Bon tune. This event will surely put a smile on your face and bond you with Matsumoto and its lively residents. Come on down around 6pm, and its best to come on foot as the downtown area streets are closed to cars for this annual summer event.
See also "Bon Bon 2008" in "What's New" Blog.

Date First Sat in August
Hours 5–10 pm
Place Streets in the downtown
Charge Free

Seiji Ozawa Matsumoto (Former "Saito Kinen") Festival (August - September)

Every year from late August to early September since 1992, the Saito Kinen Orchestra has performed in a special musical festival dedicated to its namesake, the late Hideo Saito. Saito was born in 1902 and throughout his life he was a driving force in the development of Western classical music, its appreciation, and its performance in Japan. The orchestra that now carries on his name is world-renowned and is conducted by Seiji Ozawa with the Seiji Ozawa Matsumoto Festival as its annual showcase. Further information on the festival, including past years' programs and a detailed biography of Mr. Saito are available at the Seiji Ozawa Matsumoto Festival homepage.
See also a report in "What's New" Blog.

Date In 2017, Aug 13, 18–Sep 10 (15 performances)
Ticket sales begin June 3, 2017
Place Matsumoto Performing Arts Center, Matsumoto Bunka Kaikan, Agatanomori Hall, Harmony Hall

Norikura Mountain Cycling Race (August)

This is the most popular bike hill climb race in Japan and more than 3,000 cyclists will climb up Norikura Highlands.

Date Last Sun in August
Place Norikura Highlands
Entry fee Y6,000

See more in the blog article Matsumoto Summer Festivals covering tenjin festival, taiko festival, Matsumoto bon bon, and also Matsumoto Obon Dance.



Autumn Moon Viewing Festival (September)

Date Six days before and after full moon in September or October (2017: Sep 29–Oct 4)
Hours 5:30–8:30 pm
Place Matsumoto Castle
Charge Free
Details here

Banff Mountain Film Festival in Norikura (August or September)

The world-renowned outdoor short movie contest. About 200,000 people watches the films about mountain, nature, adventure, and environment, in the world tour of the festival every year. The festival is getting popular and popular among people who love the outdoors and nature.

Date 2016: September 3rd
Hours From 7:00 pm
Place Norikura Outdoor Theater at Igaya Ski Resort
Charge Y 1200 (in 2008)

Dosojin Festival (September)

Date The fourth Saturday in September
Hours Evening
Place Utsukushigahara Hot Spring
Charge Free


Yohashira Shrine Shinto Festival (October)

Yohashira Shrine's annual festival. The city's traditional wooden floats ("butai") will be on display and there will be tons of food booths around the shrine.

Date Oct 1–3
Hours Evening
Place Yohashira Shrine and Nawate Street
Charge Free

Asama Hot Spring Torch Festival (October)

Very exciting, very hot annual event in Asama Hot Spring area. Festival participants carry giant torches to the local shrine. The biggest torch is three meters in diameter! See also this report article in "What's New" Blog.
(This event used to be held on Oct 3 every year until 2013.)

Date The Second Sat in Oct (In 2017: Oct 14)
Hours 7 pm–9:30 pm
Place Asama Hot Springs
Charge Free

Soba Festival (October)

A great festival for foodies where you can try not only soba from all around Japan, but also other kinds of local foods and crafts. See this page in Events Held in Matsumoto Castle about the details.

Date Three days in mid-October (In 2017: Oct 7–9)
Hours 10 am–4 pm
Place Matsumoto Castle, etc.


Matsumoto Citizen's Festival and Matsumoto Castle Festival (including Samurai Procession, Tea Party, Boys and Girls Budo Competition, and more) (November)

Samurai Costume Parade

The samurai warrior parade (held in the afternoon) is the main event of the festivals. 120 boys and girls and 80 adult citizens dress up as samurais, princesses, and ninjas walk through downtown Matsumoto. Some boys and girls are dressed as cute ninjas.
Other events include a big tea ceremony and kendo and naginata competitions in the castle garden.

See also a report in "What's New" Blog.

Date Nov 3
Hours 9 am–4 pm
Place Downtown and Matsumoto Castle
Charge Free


Matsumoto Ice Sculpture Festival (January)

This is one of Matsumoto's warmest moments of the winter, and usually takes place in late January. Ice sculptors from around Japan and around the world bring their carving paraphernalia to the castle grounds on Saturday. The carving starts in earnest on Saturday evening after dark and continues until the wee hours of Sunday morning. Come Saturday evening and watch the artists perform their craft, while warming up with some snacks or Japanese rice wine (sake).

Bring the family on Sunday morning -- get there early to avoid the photographers and crowds -- and view the finished sculptures with the magnificent backdrop of Matsumoto Castle and the Northern Alps. Music, food and kids activities make this a special time for the whole family.
See also a report of 2011 and a report of 2008 in "What's New" Blog.

Date & Hours 10 am–4 pm on a weekend in mid- or late January (In 2018: Jan 20–21)
Place Matsumoto castle
Charge Free

Ameichi "Candy Festival" (January)

Hey, it's a street party in the middle of winter!! And, it's really a lot of fun. Come into the downtown area around 10:30 am and watch the community groups carry their portable shrines (Japanese: O-mikoshi) around the streets. The tradition of this festival comes from a time when rival warlords, in a gesture of respect and sympathy, provided valuable salt to the Matsumoto area. Food, excitement and fun will keep you warm at this traditional street festival.
See also a report of 2013 in "What's New" Blog.

Date Sat–Sun in early or mid-January (for 2018: 13–14)
Hours Around 10:30 am–5 pm
Place Streets in the downtown
Charge Free