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)

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