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

Held during weekends and national holidays, 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 at night.

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Matsue Dogyoretsu Drum Parade – 鼕行列

Every October on the 3rd Sunday of 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.

Matsue Castle Grand Tea Ceremony – 松江城大茶会

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!