The Official Tourism Site of Matsumoto, Nagano, Japan
Weather
Archive by month

Ameichi Candy Festival: Matsumoto’s Sweetest Event

What I’ve come to learn about Matsumoto since moving here is that the city seems to just love their huge street festivals. Not even the frigid winter is going to stop them from putting on couple of lively days of merrymaking like at last weekend’s Ameichi, a.k.a the Candy Festival. There are so many things going on during the Ameichi that it’s hard to know where to start!

Of course, it couldn’t be called a “Candy” festival without, well, a lot of candy, so you’ll find many street stalls selling all sorts of traditional Japanese candies called “Fukuame” (good luck candy), candy shaped into popular cartoon characters, and lollipops.

A girl selling traditional candies

A girl selling traditional candies

On Nakamachi Street, the Kurassic-kan had its own special market including the “Japan Candy Museum” where all kinds of traditional or craft candies were on display. You could also buy any of the candy from the museum. There were candies made with nuts, carrots, apples, herbs, and other natural ingredients, as well as many types that had been handcrafted by candy craftsmen.

Various candies from around the country

Various candies from around the country

One kind of traditionally made craft candy

One kind of traditionally made craft candy

Outside in the Kurassic-kan market, there was a traditional candy sculptor who crafted candy into cute animals right in front of your eyes. One stall had a special kind of soft candy called “taguri-ame,” that you had to twist and tread onto a stick from a large pot!

Lively market at the Kurassic-kan in Nakamachi

Lively market at the Kurassic-kan in Nakamachi

Taguri-ame candy

Taguri-ame candy

Another big part of Ameichi are the daruma doll sellers. As I mentioned in other blog posts, daruma are associated with achieving goals so they are often bought at the beginning of the year to represent a new resolution. During Ameichi, there are numerous street stalls that sell daruma in all sizes in colors, so people love to come here and pick out a perfect daruma for themselves.

Daruma galore!

Daruma galore!

Picking out the perfect daruma

Picking out the perfect daruma

Besides all the street stalls, there were performances of all kinds going on all over the city including those by several taiko drum groups, the Japan Defense Force marching band, dance groups and more.

A taiko group performing in the street

A taiko group performing in the street

The Japan Defense Force band performance

The Japan Defense Force band performance

One of the most fun parts of the whole festival is the Seven Gods of Good Luck parade. Here, the participants dress up in traditional costumes that represent the aforementioned Seven Gods and walk through the streets with interesting props while passing out good luck candy.

Part of the seven gods of fortune parade

Part of the Seven Gods of Good Luck parade

Members of the seven gods of fortune parade

Members of the seven gods of fortune parade

And, you can’t miss all the mikoshi (portable wooden shrines) that get carried around the neighborhoods of downtown Matsumoto during Ameichi! To transport them, two long, wooden poles are put through metal loops on the shrine. Then, several people lift the mikoshi up, resting the poles on their shoulders, and walk down the street. Because the mikoshi aren’t really that big, at first glance, they don’t look that heavy, but for our mikoshi, it took more than 20 people to pick it up and move it! Needless to say, usually all the carriers end up with very sore shoulders the next day.

39733401671_46985ac63f_z

I actually got to participate in helping transport one of the mikoshi around Nakamachi myself, which was an exciting experience. We all wore a festival jacket called a “happi,” and to keep a good walking rhythm while carrying, every repeatedly chants “washoi, washoi.” To show gratitude to the shops and houses in the neighborhood, we stopped the mikoshi in front of each of their doors and lifted it up and down three times, all the while making a lot of noise by ringing a bell and shouting.

The mikoshi set up as an altar in Nakamachi surrounded by sake and the "shishimai" lion dance costumes

The mikoshi set up as an altar in Nakamachi surrounded by sake and the “shishimai” lion dance costumes

The Ameichi Festival happens every year in January, so keep an eye out on our website’s events page. Also, if you are up for braving the cold, this weekend it the Ice Sculpture Festival! See more info on event page on Facebook.

The After-New-Year’s Sankuro Fire Festival

About a week after New Year’s in Matsumoto as I was heading to the local vegetable market, I saw what looked to be a giant, several-meter-high Christmas tree has suddenly appeared on an empty lot in my neighborhood. For a second, I couldn’t believe my eyes; last time I checked, Christmas had ended two weeks ago and this “tree” was definitely not there the day before.

Looking closer, the tree was actually constructed out of pine boughs that were used as New Year’s decorations and “decorated” with several daruma dolls strung around or stuck into the top of the tree, making them appear like Christmas ornaments. There were also other kinds of charms and New Year’s decorations stuck into the structure, as well.

39024306734_4071f007d5_z

Continuing down the road, these “Christmas trees” were everywhere: along the river, in the fields, and on the side of the road.

It turns out the “trees” were actually for an event called the Sankuro (三九郎) Fire Festival (also known as “Dondoyaki” in other areas) where old New Year’s decorations such as pine boughs, straw ropes, kadomatsu, as well as last year’s “used” daruma dolls are burned.

39024306434_c41d9a349e_z

New Year’s decorations are related to the religious and spiritual rituals that take place around the end and beginning of the year, when supposedly the Toshigamisama deity of the New Year comes and takes up residence in these sacred decorations, so it would not be a good idea to throw them away the regular trash. While the act of setting up the decorations for New Year welcomes the Toshishigamisama, the act of burning represents bidding the deity farewell.

The daruma dolls, which have ties to Buddhism, are used to represent a goal or wish you have for the year, and if it comes true, they get burned at the end of the year, as well (then you can get a new one!). Burning of daruma may also occur at temples or shrines.

sankuroSo, as you probably guessed already, what happens during the Sankuro Fire Festival is that each of the Sankuro trees gets turned into a huge bonfire!

Now, besides being a proper way to dispose of your used New Year decorations and daruma, the Sankuro Fire Festival is also considered a special festival for children. The neighborhood children will get a branch from a willow tree (sold at supermarkets and farmers markets around festival time) and stick colorful rice cakes called “mayudama” onto the end of each twig.

They then roast them in the Sankuro bonfire just like you would roast marshmallows! This fun custom is to wish for good health for each child for the rest of the year. (Eating snacks for health sounds like a dream to me!)

If you’re around Matsumoto or Nagano around the beginning of the year, this is definitely something to keep an eye out for.


A twig with several mayudama stuck on it

A twig with several mayudama stuck on it

Susuharai “Soot Sweeping” Ritual and Hanging of the Shimenawa at Matsumoto Castle

Yesterday, Matsumoto Castle held its annual end-of-the-year Susuharai event, a ritual performed in order to purify the castle of the year’s worth of dirt and soot and prepare it for the New Year. This custom originates from a religious ritual that dates back hundreds of years in which people cleaned their houses to welcome in the god of the New Year.

The susuharai team posing with their brooms in front of Taikomon Gate

The susuharai team posing with their brooms in front of Taikomon Gate

Starting in the morning, several workers dressed in bright orange coveralls take 4-meter long (12 feet!) bamboo broom in hand and sweep off the walls of the Taikomon Gate, Kuromon Gate, and the lower part of the castle tower. At some points, they even climb partially up the stone foundation of the tower in order to reach a few more meters up (I couldn’t get photos of this but you can see a couple photos on the Matsumoto Castle website here by scrolling down to the Susuharai event).

The super long susuharai brooms

The super long susuharai brooms

There are also other workers who actually go out on the castle’s roof and wipe the roof tiles. Lets hope that no one falls in the moat…

Workers wiping off the roof tiles of the castle tower

Workers wiping off the roof tiles of the castle tower

Besides sprucing up the castle, a sacred interwoven, straw rope called a shimenawa is also hung across each of the gates and the main entrance to the castle tower. The shimenawa represents the barrier between our world and the world of the gods, and the rope prevents any evil from entering. These are same kind of ropes that you’ll find year-round at Shinto shrines, but around New Year’s shimenawa are also hung up at homes and businesses.

The shimenawa across the castle tower entrance

The shimenawa across the castle tower entrance

The shimenawa hung up at Matsumoto Castle are huge—several meters in length and I imagine quite heavy. I watched them hang one of the ropes across the Taikomon Gate and it took five or six people to complete the task.

Preparing to lift the shimenawa up to hang

Preparing to lift the shimenawa up to hang

Success!

Success!

If you missed Susuharai this year, the event happen on the same date, December 28, every year at Matsumoto Castle!

Matsumoto Castle's main gate adorned with a shimenawa and kadomatsu

Matsumoto Castle’s main gate adorned with a shimenawa and kadomatsu

A sparkling Matsumoto Castle all ready for the New Year ;)

A sparkling Matsumoto Castle all ready for the New Year 😉

Exciting January Events in Matsumoto (2018)

It might be cold in January, but Matsumoto has several events you don’t want to miss in the first month of the New Year!

New Year’s Celebration at Matsumoto Castle

People awaiting the opening of the castle gates

People awaiting the opening of the castle gates

Celebrate the New Year opening at Matsumoto Castle! Taiko drumming accompanies the opening of the Kuromon Gate, and once inside, you can enjoy hot amazake (a non-alcoholic, sweet drink made with rice koji), the souvenir shop, traditional Japanese games like “hanetsuki” shuttlecock and spinning “koma” tops, traditional kites, Alpenhorn performances, and more! Also the first 1,000 people in the gate will receive a wooden sake cup inscribed with castle family emblems.

Date: Wednesday, January 3 (holiday)
Time: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Location: Matsumoto Castle’s Honmaru Garden, Kuromon Gate
Admission: Free

Ameichi Candy Festival

Carrying a mikoshi around the streets

Carrying a mikoshi around the streets

A big, lively festival taking place in downtown Matsumoto where portable shrines called “mikoshi” are carried around the streets by the different neighborhood groups of Matsumoto. Enjoy the spectacles, food, stalls selling candy and “daruma” dolls. See our event page for more information.

Date: Weekend of January 13 and 14
Time: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Location: Outside in the streets of downtown Matsumoto

Ice Sculpture Festival

ice_sculptures

Watch artists work with the ice and see the work that goes into producing these intricately carved sculptures. There will also be food stalls open from mid-morning to mid-afternoon on Saturday and Sunday. For kids, don’t miss the big slide carved out of ice! See our event page for more information.

Date: Friday, January 19 (evening) to Sunday, January 21
Location: Matsumoto Castle’s Honmaru Garden and surrounding park
Admission: Free

Schedule (tentative):
Jan 19 (Fri)
Carving from 6 p.m. to 12 midnight
Jan 20 (Sat)
Display from 12 midnight (0:00) to 2 p.m. on January 21
Carving from 5:30 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. of the following day
Jan 21 (Sun)
Display from 5:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Firefighter training demo for Cultural Property Fire Safety Day

Watch firefighters practices their skills and techniques (including training on huge fire truck ladders!) at Matsumoto Castle. See more info on the Matsumoto Castle website here.

Date: Friday, January 26
Time: 9:00 to 9:55 a.m. (subject to change)
Location: Matsumoto Castle – Castle tower and Honmaru Garden
Admission: ¥610 for adults, ¥300 for children (includes entrance into the castle)

Matsumoto Winter Season Night Museum Events

Matsumoto Museum of Art and the Ukiyo-e Museum

Ukiyo-e Museum

Ukiyo-e Museum

Matsumoto Museum of Art

Matsumoto Museum of Art



The Matsumoto Museum of Art is holding a 3-month series of night museum days, in which one day each month until March it will keep the museum open for extended hours. Normally the museum closes at 5 p.m., but on night museum days, it will remain open until 9 p.m.

As a bonus, there are also special activities planned during the nighttime hours such as gallery talks and workshops, and for the first two event days, the Japan Ukiyo-e Museum (woodblock prints) will hold its own night museum events in conjunction with the Matsumoto Museum of Art (along with shuttle bus service between the two locations!).

These nights are especially nice if you’re visiting as a tourist, as it gives you something to do after most of the sightseeing spots close in the late afternoon.

Dates are as follows:
Note: Some activity details are still tentative, so may be subject to change


Friday, Dec. 22, 2017 (5 p.m.–9 p.m.)

Special Activity: Gallery talk featuring the artwork in the Matsumoto Museum of Art’s permanent exhibits. In conjunction with the Japan Ukiyo-e Museum’s nighttime event, which will also feature a gallery talk about certain pieces (e.g. ukiyo-e with snowy scenery) and an ukiyo-e demonstration. (Gallery talks are 5:30 p.m. & 7:30 p.m.)

Shuttle bus service available (timetable). The museums plan to provide multilingual (English/Chinese) explanatory materials for these activities.

Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018 (5 p.m.–9 p.m.)

Special Activity: Just in time for Valentine’s Day! Tentatively planned is a behind-the-scenes tour (with flashlights!) featuring the preparations for upcoming special Yayoi Kusama exhibit in March. In conjunction with the Japan Ukiyo-e Museum’s nighttime event which will feature a special talk about the culture of romance found in ukiyo-e wood block prints. (Tours planned for 6 p.m & 8 p.m, RSVP required. Talk planned for 7 p.m.)

Shuttle bus service available. Tours/Talks in Japanese only.

Saturday, Mar. 3, 2018 (5 p.m.–9 p.m.)

Special Activity: (Tentative) Gallery talk to commemorate the special Yayoi Kusama exhibit to be held Mar. 3 to Jul. 22, 2018. Multilingual (English/Chinese) interpretation of talks planned through use of headphones. (Gallery talks are planned for 6:00 p.m. & 7:00 p.m.)

Hot wine and other drinks to be served in the art museums garden.

More information

Learn more about what you can see at the Ukiyo-e Museum on exhibit page on their website or check out our info page here. For general info about the art museum, check out the Matsumoto Museum of Art website or see our page here.

Night Museum at the Japanese Court and Open-air Architectural Museum (Rekishi no Sato)

Enjoy special extended hours at the Japanese Court Museum which allows you to see the beauty of the traditional Japanese Meiji-style architecture of Japan’s oldest wooden court building lit up at night. Regular exhibits are also open during the extended hours (see more info about the museum here)

The court building lit up at night

The court building lit up at night

Dates: Saturday, Dec 9 – Sunday, Dec 10
Time: 9:00 a.m.–7:00 p.m. (extended nighttime hours from 5:00 p.m.)
Location: Japanese Court and Open-air Architectural Museum (Rekishi no Sato, Google Map)
Admission: Adults ¥400, free for junior high school students and under

For more events for December, check out the December Events (2017) blog post.

Winter Light Displays

Christmas Candle Night at the Matsumoto City Museum of Art

Yayoi Kusama's gigantic flower sculpture lit up in candlelight

Yayoi Kusama’s gigantic flower sculpture lit up in candlelight


Enjoy listening to music while strolling around the art museum garden lit up in numerous soft candle lights.

Date: Saturday, December 9
Time: 4:00 p.m.–7:00 p.m.
Location: Matsumoto Museum of Art
 
 
 
 
 
 

Lights Pageant in Daimyocho and on the Chitose Bridge

20171204_194503

Nearly 80,000 lights decorate the trees lining Daimyocho, the road leading up to Matsumoto Castle. After viewing the lit-up trees, you can see the lit-up Matsumoto Castle just down the road.
The lights are up from early December until February 28 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. (on until later Dec. 20 through Jan. 3)20171204_194838

IMG_0349s-640x426

JR Matsumoto Station

The front of Matsumoto Station is lit up with a festive images on the side of the station building.

Matsumoto Station Illumination

Asama Onsen

Look forward to the warm glow of decorative lights when you visit Asama Onsen’s Hot Plaza. Hot Plaza offers day-trip bathing and a hot spring foot bath, while overnight stays are available at a number of traditional Japanese inns in the area. Find out more about the area here.

24944113048_dd4571076f_z

38816165301_58b14f068f_z

Foot Hot Spring

Forest of Lights Pageant in Azumino

Twin Illlumination
The Alps Azumino National Government Park is holding an illumination event from Nov. 11, 2017 (Sat) to Jan. 8, 2018 (Mon/holiday). The displays tell the story of “The Secret of the Seven Jewels”.

The illumination will be on display in two separate areas: the Horigane-Hotaka area and the Omachi-Matsugawa area. Please see below for access information.

In addition to the light displays, various other activities will be taking place. A single ticket allows you to enter both areas on the same day. Visit the official website here (Japanese only).

scenerywinter-2

Admission

Hours: 4:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m.
* Park hours are 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., but you may remain in the park to view the lights.

Prices

Adult: 410 yen

Elementary/Junior High School Student: 80 yen

Senior (65+): 210 yen

Preschool: Free

 

Fireworks (Horigane-Hotaka Area)

A 5-minute fireworks show will take place every Saturday between Nov. 11, 2017 (Sat) and Jan. 6, 2018 (Sat) and also on Christmas Eve from 8 p.m. to 8:05 p.m.

The show will be cancelled in the event of rain or bad weather.

Food Tasting (Omachi-Matsukawa Area)

Grilled mochi, mochi in a sweet bean sauce, and baked apples!

100 yen *Limited to the first 100 people.

Live Performances (Omachi-Matsukawa Area)

Christmas Stage: Various performances (dates and times)

Magic Show: Jan. 6 (Sat)-8 (Mon/holiday) 4:00 p.m.-4:30 p.m., 6:00 p.m.-6:30 p.m., and from 7:30 p.m. FREE

Crafts (Both Areas)

Horigane-Hotaka Area

Omachi-Matsugawa Area

Miniature Aquariums Display (Horigane-Hotaka Area)

Tropical Christmas

Access

Free Shuttle Bus

JR Matsumoto Station –> Toyoshina Station –> Horigane-Hotaka Area: Dec. 23 (Sat/holiday)-24(Sun) 4:00 p.m.-9:15 p.m.

View in Google Maps

JR Matsumoto Station –> Shinano Omachi Station –> Omachi-Matsukawa Area: Dec. 23 (Sat/holiday)-24(Sun) 3:45 p.m.-9:00 p.m.

View in Google Maps

By Taxi

(JR Oita Line) Matsumoto Station –> Toyoshina Station + taxi

(JR Oita Line) Matsumoto Station –> Shinano Omachi Station + taxi

Inquiries (Japanese)

Horigane-Hotaka Area: 0263-71-5511

Omachi-Matsukawa Area: 0261-21-1212

 

December Events (2017)

Who can believe that December is already here? The last month of the year features a wide variety of events in genres ranging from the arts and culture to sports and history.

Kamiakari Bamboo Candles Illumination (in Azumino)

Over 10,000 bamboo candles light up Hotaka Shrine in their other-worldly glow. If you come by 3:50 p.m. and bring your own long-necked lighter, you can actually participate in lighting the candles!

Photo credit: Azumino Tourism Website

Photo credit: Azumino Tourism Website

Dates: Friday, Dec 1 to Sunday, Dec 3
Location: Hotaka Shrine (30 min. from Matsumoto in Azumino City) – see details here.
Time: 4:00 p.m.–8:00 p.m.

Matsumoto Cross Country Race

This race takes place at the big park that surrounds Matsumoto Airport with a full view of the Japan Alps. You can watch races ranging from 1,000 meters to 8,000 meters, with age groups range from elementary school children to adults over 40. (see more event details in Japanese here. Note: entry to participate as a runner is already closed.)

Location: Shinshu Sky Park Family Sports Zone (Google map)
Date: Sunday, December 3
Time: Races begin from 9 a.m.

Christmas Candle Night at the Matsumoto Museum of Art

Enjoy listening to music while strolling around the art museum garden lit up in numerous soft candle lights.

Yayoi Kusama's gigantic flower sculpture lit up in candlelight

Yayoi Kusama’s gigantic flower sculpture lit up in candlelight


Date: Saturday, December 9
Time: 4:00 p.m.–7:00 p.m.
Location: Matsumoto Museum of Art (Map)

Night Museum at the Japanese Court and Open-air Architectural Museum (Rekishi no Sato)

Enjoy special extended hours at the Japanese Court Museum which allows you to see the beauty of the traditional Japanese Meiji-style architecture of Japan’s oldest wooden court building lit up at night. Regular exhibits are also open during the extended hours (see more info about the museum here)

The court building lit up at night

The court building lit up at night

Dates: Saturday, Dec 9 – Sunday, Dec 10
Time: 9:00 a.m.–7:00 p.m. (extended nighttime hours from 5:00 p.m.)
Location: Japanese Court and Open-air Architectural Museum (Rekishi no Sato, Google Map)
Admission: Adults ¥400, free for junior high school students and under

World of Martial Arts Event

Watch and even try out 12 different kinds of traditional martial arts, including kendo, naganata (polearm fighting), sumo, aikido, kobudo (traditional Japanese weaponry), Japanese archery and more—all for free! See more details in our previous blog post about this event.

Practicing one of the weapon arts

Practicing on of the weapon arts

Location: Matsumoto City Sogo Taikukan (Gymnasium, see Google map)
Date: Sunday, December 10
Time: Participatory classes from 9:30–11:50 a.m. / Exhibitions from 1:00–4:00 p.m.
Cost: Free!

Matsumoto Cinema Select: Lost in Paris showing

A 2016 French/Belgium comedy, also known as Paris pieds nus featuring stars Fiona Gordon, Dominique Abel, and Emmanuelle Riva. See more info on IMDb.

Movie poster for Lost in Paris

Movie poster for Lost in Paris

Date: Wednesday, December 13
Time: 8:00 p.m.–9:30 p.m.
Location: Matsumoto Performing Arts Centre (map)
Cost: On-the-day tickets – ¥1,800 for adults, ¥1,400 for university/high school students.

Opera Chanchiki (Citizen’s Opera Performance)

An opera theater performance based on an old Japanese folktale and music featuring both traditional Japanese instruments and an orchestra. Performances by local opera, chorus, and Japanese instrument groups.

Image from the Chanchiki poster

Image from the Chanchiki poster

Location: Matsumoto Performing Arts Centre (map)
1st Performance: Saturday, December 16 from 6:00 p.m.
2nd Performance: Sunday, December 17 from 2:00 p.m.
Tickets: Start at ¥4,000 for adults and ¥2,500 for under 25. Buy directly at the ticket counter from 10:00 a.m–6:00 p.m.

Matsumoto Sunday Market

Enjoy good music, food, wine, beer, dance, crafts, workshops for kids and more!

Date: Sunday, December 17
Time: 10:00 a.m.–4:30 p.m.
Location: Matsumoto Sunday Market, 5 min from the station (Map)
Event on Facebook

Night Museum at the Matsumoto Museum of Art

The museum will open for extended nighttime hours one day each month during December, February, and March. For the December night museum day, they will hold a special gallery talk about the artwork in the permanent exhibits (see more info about other dates here). See general information about the museum here.

Outside area of the art museum

Outside area of the art museum


Date: Friday, December 22
Time: 5:00 p.m.–9:00 p.m. (also open for regular hours from 9 to 5)
Location: Matsumoto Museum of Art (Map)

Susuharai (Soot Sweeping)

This is a customary end-of-the-year cleaning ritual which is meant to purify the soot that has gathered over the year and prevent ill fortune from entering the castle for the next year. Read more information here.

Staff sweeping the soot off the castle tower

Staff sweeping the soot off the castle tower


Date: Thursday, December 28
Time: 9:00 a.m.–11:30 a.m.
Location: Matsumoto Castle’s Kuro-mon (Black gate), the castle tower entrance, and Taiko-mon (Drum gate)
Admission: Adults ¥610, Children ¥300 (includes entrance into the castle tower and Matsumoto City Museum just outside the castle)

Falcons Impress at the Traditional Falconry Show at Matsumoto Castle

Last weekend, Matsumoto Castle held its first ever falconry event!

IMG_2687

Historically, during the Edo Period in Matsumoto, there were samurai who served as falconers under the feudal lord of Matsumoto Castle. This event was a demonstration of these traditions.

In the old castle town of Matsumoto, there was an area called Takajomachi(鷹匠町) named after the falconers, or “Takajo” in Japanese, that lived there. There was also another area called Esashimachi(餌差町) where the small birds that were used to feed the falcons were raised (in Japanese, “e” means feed or bait and here “sashi” refers to the person giving the food).

The falconry show was performed by the Suwa Falconry Preservation Society (see Japanese website here). Apparently members of this society go through a tiered qualification process in order to become falconers! The three types of birds of prey trained by falconers are the Harris Hawk, Norther Goshawk, and the Japanese Buzzard.

The show started off by the falconers walking the falcons slowly around the performance area, so the birds could adjust to their surroundings.
DSC_0701-640x440

Next, the falcons flew between two people and then returned. They flew quite low! Falconers do not only train the falcons to use themselves, but the birds were trained in a way that anyone could use them, for example, in the past, the feudal lord himself.
falconry

falconry3

falconry4

falconry5

So since anyone can technically have the falcon to do what it was trained to do, some people in the audience got to try it out themselves (including the mayor of Matsumoto!).

falconry6 falconry7

The next part of the show demonstrated how the falcons could strike other birds out of the sky: live pigeons were released and the falcons caught them with their talons right in mid-flight!

falconry8 falconry9

The last part of the event was all about letting the audience take photos of the falcons and their trainers. Let’s hope this event happens again next year!

DSC_0761-300x199 DSC_0764-300x199

DSC_0778-211x300

This blog post is based off of the Falconry Show article on the Japanese website. Please check it out here if you are interested!

A Day of Samurai, Kendo, Taiko, and More at the Matsumoto Castle Festival

Every November on Culture Day, Matsumoto City puts on a huge city-wide festival that features all kinds of Japanese cultural goodies ranging from taiko drum performances to martial arts competitions, to the main event: the samurai parade around downtown!

Crowd and samurai parade participants gathered at Matsumoto Castle for the official festival kick-off ceremony

Crowd and samurai parade participants gathered at Matsumoto Castle for the official festival kick-off ceremony

The samurai parade starts off in Matsumoto Castle’s inner garden, where over one hundred people a dressed in the traditional wear of samurai, soldiers, court officials, and there’s even a princess. A taiko drum performance (video below!) and a speech by Matsumoto’s mayor officially kicks off the festivities before the parade procession marches out into the streets.

The samurai procession gathering at Matsumoto Castle before heading out

The samurai procession gathering at Matsumoto Castle before heading out

Taiko performance in the castle garden

Taiko performance in the castle garden

One of the most popular members of the samurai procession ;)

One of the most popular members of the samurai procession 😉

Besides the samurai parade and taiko, there were numerous other street performances that included not only traditional culture but also contemporary culture like street dancing and magic shows. I was lucky to run into this dance group in the photo below who performed a traditional women’s dance in beautiful blue kimono:

Traditional dance with autumn leaves

Traditional dance with autumn leaves

One of my personal favorites out of the festival events was the Kendo and Naginata Competition. It took place right in the castle garden, so you could get up close and watch the dueling, hakama-clad contestants show off their swordsmanship and naginata (aka polearm) skills.

Dueling kendo contestants

Dueling kendo contestants

En Garde!

En Garde!

There are so many events going on during this festival that it was hard to see them all (there’s also a big tea ceremony, Japanese archery competition, etc.), but if you missed something this year, you’ll always have another chance next year on November 3rd! It’s also a great time to plan a trip to Matsumoto because the autumn leaves are out in full color as well 😉

For more event info, see the event page or follow us on Facebook (we also have a Facebook event listing).

Mini Quartet Concert at the Kurassic-kan on Nov. 11

As the 4th event in the Kurassic-kan’s “Kura no Yube” series, a few members of the Shinshu University Orchestra will be putting on a mini quartet concert! One week before, the orchestra will be playing a big concert at the Suntory Hall in Tokyo, so this mini performance allows those in Matsumoto to get a little taste of the live music too 😉

If you’re a classical music fan, the cost is only 500 yen, so don’t miss out!

Event Details

Place: Kurassic-kan on Nakamachi Street (map)
Date: Nov. 11, 2017
Time: 5:30 p.m.–6:45 p.m.
Admission: 500 yen

(P.S. you can also bookmark the event on our Facebook page)

Japanese event poster for the Kura-no-Yube mini concert

Japanese event poster for the Kura-no-Yube mini concert


Recent Comments