Now fall foliage in downtown Matsumoto is at the final stage.
This morning, at the entrance of Matsumoto City Museum of Art, I was surprised to see beautiful red colored trees collaborating with Matumoto-born Yayoi Kusama’s artwork on the building. Nature’s red and yellow colors are competing with artificial red and yellows.
The artwork was created before fall foliage starts. Is it just coincidence, or calculated art by Yayoi Kusama? Genius!
You can enjoy the Kusama world in the permanent exhibition inside the building.
In the Matsumoto Castle garden, a tea ceremony is held several times a year.
This summer, it’ll be held on August 6th and 7th, at the beginning of the free admission period for visitors wearing kimono, and also the extension period of entrance hours (8:00 till door closes at 17:30 , normally 8:30-16:30) (until August 16).
Members of the youth group of the Urasenke school of tea ceremony school wearing yukata (a kind of kimono) will serve you cold green powdered tea with Japanese cake for 500 yen. The leader of the group speaks English.
Also, there is a full-scale tea-ceremony room (tyashitsu) with a tea garden in Ikegami Hyakuchikutei, just a few minutes walk northward from the castle.
You can look inside the tea room and garden freely (9:00-17:00 except Monday) without charge when it is not used.
How about wearing kimono at newly opened Kimono & Ninja Costume Wearing & Rental Shop ‘Hanakomichi’, go to the castle, take your photo with an armored man of ‘omotenashi-tai’, enter the castle free of charge, taste cold tea at the castle garden (if you visit Aug 6 or 7), then visit the tea room in Hyakuchikutei?
This is a perfect plan to experience traditional castle culture!
For those with an appreciation for art and who may want to feel a little cooler in the summer heat, nearby Matsumoto on the western slopes of the surrounding hills is a place called Kiyomizu Highland named after the Temple there that was the original temple from which Kiyomizu temple in Kyoto was named. The locals there are putting on an art festival with a variety of open Studios and even musical events at the Kiyomizu Skyland resort hotel over the next two weeks.
Should you want to vistit or even pop in on the original Kiyomizu temple take a look at the schedule below or the facebook page ( https://www.facebook.com/KiyomizuArtfes?fref=pb&hc_location=profile_browser)if you can read or work with Japanese with a translator.
While you are there you can take a nice Onsen style bath with a great view of the entire Matsumoto Valley and along the Japan Alps at Kiyomizu Skyland. The temperature up their is a good 5 degrees cooler making it a popular mountain cabin locality. You may even spot some monkeys getting about along the way.
August 8th 5pm – 8pm
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 thekyogen (“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.
On Friday night of June 20, which is one day before the summer solstice, the “Candle Night” event was held at Matsumoto Museum of Art.
It is held on the summer and winter solstice every year to enlighten people on environmental issues. But it is also a nice (and free of charge!) event to enjoy the fantastic night by only the light of candles on green glass in the yard of the museum with art and live music.
Kids enjoyed running around and adults enjoyed sitting on turf in my favorite courtyard of the museum.
A big objet d’art “The Visionary Flowers” by the world famous modern artist Yayoi Kusama, who is from Matsumoto, was also lit up by candles. and more mysterious than usual during Candle Night.
Candles in natural spring water flow
The building of the museum designed by a Japanese famous architect is also fancy.
Matsumoto is now popular by its oldest castle in Japan, but it is also famous for “Craft Town” among many Japanese.
In addition to folk handicraft makers, shops and the Matsumoto Folkcraft Museum, now some popular craftspersons escaped from urban life and lives in Matsumoto and the neighbor town Hotaka, Azumino. You can see and buy craftworks and “Matsumoto Furniture” in some shops in Nakamachi Street.
Once in every year — the last weekend of May, Craft Fair Matsumoto, which is the biggest and oldest craft fair (field exhibition) in Japan, is held in the beautiful park “Agatanomori”.
300 craft artists selected among 1000+ applicants from all over Japan exhibit and sell all kind of craftwork including lacquer ware, pottery, silk, wood, dyeing, etc.
Here are photos of this year’s Craft Fair;
Lacquer ware used for miso soup and other Japanese dishes
Traditional “Mastumoto broom” handmade from special grass, now popular in Japan because it is ecological and tasteful
Demonstration of silk weaving (you can experience it freely)
Silkworms you can touch!
Wooden chopsticks and spoons made from various kinds of tree
Clocks even hands of which are made from wood
Metal kanji characters
Clothes dyed by natural materials
It's a small world (really tiny craft works)
Kitchen knives and frying pans
Tableware some of which are small chair shape
Village blacksmiths' booth is popular every year
“Craft Fair Matsumoto“ is the biggest and oldest craft fair in Japan, attracting 50,000 ~ 70,000 visitors during the event.
This year, celebrating its 30th anniversary with 280 craftsmen from all over Japan, along with many relative events in downtown Matsumoto city.
May 24th (Saturday) & 25th (Sunday) / Free admission
The “Five Tips” to enjoy Matsumoto craft fair even more are….
１） 歩・・・Take a walk
The craft fair venue is at “Agata-no-mori Park“, just 2 kilo meters away from JR. Matsumoto station. It is a nice walking course with lots of natural spring wells (w/ drinkable water) and unique shops. Arriving Agata-no-mori, exploring the buildings of the “Former Matsumoto High School” . The school buildings full of western influences were constructed in 1920, and designated as a national important cultural properties. In the campus, old trees of zelkova and cherry are forming an atmosphere of small forests.
２) 知・・・Expand the knowledge
280 craftsmen including wood carvings, ceramics, lacquer wares, metal works, weaving, dyeing, glass works, leather and food producers will be all over the park. From traditional to modern techniques you can learn various craft art forms all together.
３) 聴・・・Live concerts
As you may already know, Matsumoto is so-called the town of music. Here at the site, live music concerts will be held on Saturday evening (May 24th). Admission Free, can bring your own food and drink, or temporary mini bar is available at the site. It is so relaxing to listen to nice music on live in homey atmosphere.
There are always full of booths selling various foods and drinks. Usually they are situated at the north-east side of the park, and so many to choose from: Japanese, Cambodian, Indian, Italian, German, Macrobiotic and so on. And there are many nice restaurants on the way from the station, too. It’s worth visiting just for experiencing different taste!
Nothing to explain here, I guess! Hope you are able to find a special piece and take home with other beautiful & unforgettable memories of Matsumoto City.
*The vendors often don’t accept credit cards at the site. Go to International ATM (the main post office on Honmachi St. is closer from the park) before visiting the event if you wish to purchase there.)
Read also an article of Matsumoto Craft Fair by Winifred Bird on The Japan Times
One of the most well-known Swiss novel, “Heidi a girl of the Alps” was written by Johanna Spyri in 1880. Heidi became very popular among children in Japan after the first TV animation program released in 1974. To celebrate 40th Anniversary of “Heidi a girl of the Alps” animation, there is an official Heidi Exhibition held at “Utsukushigahara Open Air Museum” up on Mt. Utsukushigahara.
This special exhibition has just started and will last until the 16th of November this year at Utsukushigahara Open Air Museum.
April 26th to November 16th
Admission Fee: Adults 1,000 yen, Students 800 yen, Kids 700 yen
///Important ///Kids w/parents will be Free Admission “every SATURDAY” （Only kids fee, parents have to pay)!!
Plus good news is, a discount coupon is available through internet. ←Go to the site and print the page out and show at the museum’s ticket office.
Transportation from Matsumoto: Utsukushigahara Kogen Bijutsukan (Utsukushigahara Open Air Museum) Line
There are only two services a day (one in the morning and the last one in the afternoon) from Matsumoto Bus Terminal, and same as return bus to Matsumoto. Bus Fare is 1,500 yen(2013 summer fare).
Have fun on the Open Air Museum and beautiful Utsukushigahara heightｓ!
“Matsumoto Concierge” is a civic volunteer group guiding tourists from JR Matsumoto Station and the downtown tourist information booth.
“The Castle Town: Matsumoto Concierge Map” was created by “Matsumoto Concierge” members after numerous discussions, and the most useful, often unwritten, tourist information has been selected.
Recommended restaurants with price range, availabilities of credit cards, free wi-fi and English menus, and the locations for free bicycle pick-up, convenience stores, drug stores, banks, coin lockers, camera equipment stores are addressed on the map. Since all the spots, shops and restaurants introduced on the map are selected by the locos (Matsumotorian), the short comments tell real stories of Matsumoto.
This unique and very useful map is provided at the major hotels and inns in the downtown area, and will be distributed at the “Matsumoto Concierge” booth which is located in front of the wicket gate of JR Matsumoto station during tourist season starting from this golden week.
However, the number of the map is very limited, it may not be available to every tourist who will visit Matsumoto in this year.
Please download the map image from ⇒ “Matsumoto Concierge Map“, so you can install in the tablets of yours and use them while strolling the town.
Have lots of fun along with this handy information!
According to the blossom forecasts for cherry trees this year, best timing to visit Matsumoto castle will be April 9th to 16th.
“Yozakura kai (night sakura viewing festival)” will be held during the season, free admission to the castle’s inner garden (can not enter in the castle’s keep at night, though) .
There will be traditional tea ceremony services (500 yen), live performance of flute, Japanese traditional instruments such as “koto (琴）” and the ancient court music “gagaku (雅楽）”, as well as various food service inside of the garden.