Cherry Blossom Festival at a Japanese Castle - Matsumoto Castle
By David Weber
4 Apr 2013
Although built for war, Japanese castles were also built with an eye for beauty. It would be a boorish samurai castle owner not to have certain trees and flowers planted on the grounds of his castle for their aesthetic quality.
Matsumoto Castle in Nagano Prefecture is a beautiful castle in its own right. It's black color stands starkly contrast to the colors around in the form of mountains, rivers, and trees. Before the modern era and its ugly functional buildings, Matsumoto Castle must have been a sight to beyond especially during cherry blossom season.
Once a year for one weak during the peak blooming time of the cherry blossoms, the city of Matsumoto opens up the castle grounds from 6pm to 9pm. The castle and the cherry blossom trees are all illuminated and as visitors stroll about they can listen to live music performances.
One of the aesthetic aspects of Matsumoto Castle is the tsukimi yagura or moon-viewing tower. One wing of the castle is a two-story tower whose walls open up to allow guests to enjoy the view of the full moon. During the festival musicians play from there. The first set is the Japanese harp - the koto - accompanied by the Japanese flute - shakuhachi. The second set is western style flutes and the third set is gagaku, ancient Imperial music. The event is completely free though for 500 Yen you can enjoy some matcha tea and a sweet.