Calendar

Matsue is home to many festivals all year round, many of which are listed here. For more up to date information and events, please have a look at our Matsue City Guide Facebook Page and its related newsletter. You can also find all the major events held in Matsue on this event calendar (Japanese).

February

Matsue Dandan Food Festival (Matsue Dandan Shoku Festa) - 松江だんだん食フェスタ

 
All February

Matsue’s main winter event, the annual Dandan Shoku Festa gives you the opportunity to savour a variety of delicacies made from local ingredients at various locations throughout the city. The biggest events are the Sunday markets that occur during the festival. The Sunday markets usually rotate and take place around JR Matsue Station, Kyomise area, and Shirakata Tenmangu Shrine. Many other events also take place in several locations and restaurants.

Spring Equinox Festival (Setsubun-sai) – 節分祭

 
Every year on February 3rd

Taking place throughout Japan on February 3rd, Setsubun indicates the beginning of spring. It is accompanied with a bean-throwing ceremony (Mame-maki) to cleanse all the evil of the former year and drive away disease-bringing evil spirits for the year to come. Such ceremonies are held in the many shrines around Matsue. The most popular ceremony is held in Kumano Taisha Shrine in southern Matsue. It takes place in the early afternoon, and city officials, such as the mayor and governor, often have the honour of tossing the beans.


March

Matsue Irish Festival – 松江アイリッシュ・フェスティバル

 
March, on a Sunday

As the first Japanese home of Irish writer Lafcadio Hearn, Matsue has close ties with Ireland and celebrates St. Patrick’s Day with an annual parade, one of the most enthusiastic events of its kind in Japan. The parade includes sections on boat and on land, and is followed by traditional Irish music and céili dancing. On Saturday and Sunday evening, the vault of Karakoro Art Studio is transformed into an Irish pub–the Shamrock–complete with live music, a selection of Irish food, and beer on tap.

URL: Irish Festival in Matsue Facebook Page (jp)  ››  Click here

April

O-shiro Castle Festival – お城まつり

 
From the end of March to mid-April

Matsue Castle is one of the best places to view cherry blossoms in Matsue, and while they are in bloom there is a festival held on the castle grounds. You can enjoy stage performances like impressive Kagura dances or drum concerts for free on weekends. The castle tower is also open until later than usual and night-time illuminations make the entire castle grounds an enchanting place.

Matsue Musha Gyoretsu Warrior Parade – 松江武者行列

 
First Saturday of April

This annual event celebrates the founding of Matsue by re-enacting the symbolic entrance of Lord Horio Yoshiharu and his troops to his newly built castle town. Participants parade through Matsue in warrior armour, elegant kimono, and other outfits reminiscent of the early Edo period. In case of rain, the event may be held indoors.

URL: Matsue Musha Gyoretsu Warrior Parade (jp)  ››  Click here

Aofushigaki Ritual – 青柴垣神事

 
Every year on April 7th

Held in the early afternoon at Mihonoseki Harbour, the Aofushigaki Ritual re-enacts a famous episode of the Kojiki (Records of Ancient Matters), written in 713 and regarded as one of the most important records of the early history of Japan. This solemn Shinto ritual is based on the “Transfer of the Land Myth” (Kuni-yuzuri Shinwa), that tells of Kotoshironushi disappearing from the visible world by going into the sea after he agreed to concede the lands to the sun goddess, Amaterasu. Kotoshironushi, also known as Ebisu, is the son of Okuninushi, worshipped at Izumo Taisha Grand Shrine on the other side of the Shimane Peninsula.

May

Horan-enya – ホーランエンヤ

 
May, once every 10 years (next festival is 2019)

One of the top three boat festivals of Japan, Horan-enya has been celebrated since the Edo era. A procession of boats protects the boat carrying the deity from Jozan Inari Shrine all the way down the Ohashi River to Adakaya Shrine, the most flamboyant of which are five “Kaidenma-sen.” The crews decorate these boats in unique and traditional styles, and the rowers chant while dancers in bright Kabuki makeup and costumes dance with batons and oars on either end of the boat. The festival lasts nine days both on land and on the water and takes a year to prepare. You can visit the Horan-enya Memorial Hall to experience a small taste of this festival at any other time.


July

Tamatsukuri Onsen Summer Festival – 玉造温泉夏まつり

 
From mid-July to the end of September.

Held in Tamatsukuri Onsen, this annual summer festival consists of daily stage events and food stands. The stages are outside surrounding the Tamayu River, and performances range from music concerts to traditional dances, like Yasugi-bushi. At night, the area around the river is illuminated with decorative lanterns.

August

Matsue Suigosai Fireworks Festival – 松江水郷祭

 
Final weekend of July or first weekend of August

One of the biggest events in the City of Water, Matsue Suigosai is held over two days in the city centre by Lake Shinji's shore. Many people wearing yukata and jinbei will enjoy the surface of the lake lit up by thousands of fireworks, while dance events and other performances are held on stage by Matsue City Hall. There are also many food stalls. Fireworks are usually from 20:00 to 20:30 on Saturday, and from 20:00 until 21:00 on Sunday, with a total of around 90,000 fireworks.

Obon Lantern Floating Festival (Toro-nagashi) – 灯篭流し

 
Every year on August 16th

Paper lanterns are sent floating down Ohashi River, Matsue's main river, symbolising the ancestral spirits' return to the world of the dead. This Buddhist ceremony marks the end of Obon, when the spirits of ancestors are said to revisit household altars. Many people come and watch the ceremony from Matsue Ohashi Bridge and surrounding riverbanks.

Oyukake Jizo Festival – お湯かけ地蔵まつり

 
Every year on August 24th

This festival, dedicated to the local hot spring deity named Oyukake Jizo, takes place in the hot springs area of Matsue Shinjiko Onsen. Come by and pour hot water over the Jizo statue before watching the fireworks over Lake Shinji. Fireworks are usually between 20:00 and 20:30.

URL : Oyukake Jizo Festival (jp)  ››  Click here

September

Sada Shrine Gozakae Ritual – 御座替神事

 
Every year on September 24th and 25th

This ritual is undertaken to purify the new rush mats upon which the tutelary deities of Sada Shrine are to sit. Another round of dances follows on the second day, including Sada Shin Noh, which was added to the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2011. Created in the early 15th century, these dances have been handed down from generation to generation and are thought to have given its contemporary structure and content to the Kagura dances that today thrive in Shimane culture.

October

Water Lantern Festival (Matsue Suitoro) – 松江水燈路

 
Mid-September to mid-October

Held during weekends and national holidays (Sept. 23rd and Oct. 13th), Matsue Suitoro provides a magical view of lantern-lit waterways around Matsue Castle and adjacent Shiomi Nawate Street, designated as one of the 100 most beautiful streets of Japan. A draw-it-yourself lantern studio can be found on the castle grounds, which are illuminated with hundreds of lanterns of differently sizes and styles. The Horikawa Sightseeing Boat that cruises along the canals extends its operating hours until 9pm, and many other nearby tourist facilities (like Matsue Castle, Matsue History Museum, Lafcadio Hearn Memorial Museum, the Samurai Residence) are also open later than usual. There are also many open-air stands and food stalls, and a free shuttle bus from JR Matsue Station.

URL: Water Lantern Festival (Matsue Suitoro) (jp)  ››  Click here

Matsue Do Gyoretsu Drum Parade – 鼕行列

 
Third Sunday of October

Every October, Matsue hosts a drum festival where everybody is encouraged to join in and pound on the giant drums that are hauled on floats through the streets. These two-metre-diameter (6.5 feet) “Do” drums are pulled by children arrayed in traditional coats, and are accompanied by bamboo flutes and changara cymbals. The sound of this energetic procession echoes through the city not only on the day of the festival, but also in the evenings leading up to the day as groups all over town gather to practice in their respective neighbourhoods. Each neighbourhood as its own specific carriages, styles of drumming, and outfits.
All the participants gather outside the Matsue Castle grounds on Sunday at noon where an official opening ceremony is held. This usually also includes mochi-maki, the throwing of pounded rice cakes which are meant to bring good luck to those who catch them. The drumming starts thereafter, with the carriages departing from the castle. As they proceed, the groups split into two different parade routes and go through the main streets of the city.

Matsue Castle Grand Tea Ceremony – 松江城大茶会

 
First Saturday and Sunday of October

Lord Matsudaira Harusato, who ruled Matsue from 1767 to 1806, was passionate about the tea ceremony and is also known by his tea name, Fumai. Thanks to his passion, matcha (powdered green tea) and wagashi (Japanese confectionary) became a favourite of the people of Matsue, and they remain a part of Matsue’s everyday culture. [More info in Culture and History]

The biggest tea event of the year is the Matsue Castle Grand Tea Ceremony, during which numerous schools of tea gather on the Matsue Castle grounds and offer a taste of their schools to the general public. It is one of the top three tea gatherings in Japan. This event is popular with enthusiasts, but no prior knowledge is necessary to enjoy yourself!

December

Morotabune Ritual – 諸手船神事

 
Every year on December 3rd

Held in the early afternoon in Mihonoseki Harbour, the Moratabune Ritual mainly consists of a race between two boats with the rowers wearing traditional clothes. Like the Aofushigaki Ritual (see above), it re-enacts a famous episode from the Kojiki, in which heavenly messengers are sent by the sun goddess Amaterasu to ask for the lands of Okuninushi (now worshipped at Izumo Taisha Grand Shrine). The messengers were then sent by him to ask his son, Kotoshironushi (also known as Ebisu), and they used a dug-out canoe to get to him. More info about the legends taking place in and around Matsue.

Special Hanami (Cherry Blossoms) – 花見

 
Cherry Road, in Northern Matsue
Gensuke Park, by Matsue Ohashi Bridge
Senju-in Temple,Northeast of Matsue Castle
In spring, Matsue is blessed with many spots to enjoy the cherry blossoms. In Japanese, this activity is called Hanami. Here is a selection of six Hanami spots in Matsue we recommend most. See our Facebook Photo Album for more info and pictures.

Special Koyo (Autumn Foliage) – 紅葉

 
Colourful leaves are to the Japanese autumn what cherry blossoms are to spring, and Matsue has many spots to enjoy the beautiful autumn tints (or Koyo, in Japanese). See our Facebook Photo Album for more info and pictures.

Flowers of Matsue – 花暦

 
Camellia (tsubaki)
early February ~ late May
Everywhere throughout the city.
Japanese Plum (ume)
mid-February ~ late April
Matsue Castle
Cherry trees (sakura)
late-March ~ early April
See our Special Hanami above
Peony (botan)
mid-April ~ early May
Daikonshima Island
Azalea (tsutsuji)
late April ~ early May
Mihonoseki Harbour
(Gohonmatsu Park)
Wisteria (fuji)
late April ~ early May
Horikawa Sightseeing Boat
Iris (ayame/kakitsubata/shobu)
early May ~ Mid-May
Horikawa Sightseeing Boat
Rose (bara)
mid-May ~ late June
Matsue English Garden
Hydrangea (ajisai)
mid-June ~ early July
Gessho-ji Temple
Sasanqua (sazanka)
late October ~ late January
Winter Peony (kanbotan)
winter
Yuushien Garden
Matsue is blooming with beautiful flowers all year round. You can enjoy them in the city centre or in the major gardens of Matsue: Yuushien Garden, Matsue Vogel Park and Matsue English Garden. The two flower-symbols of Matsue are the camellia and the peony. See our Facebook Photo Album for more info and pictures.