The rhythmic sounds of a hundred drums filled the warm, humid evening air recently as the people of this castle town were treated to one of the most heart-pounding events of the year: the annual Matsumoto Castle Taiko Drum Festival.
The Perfect Setting for a Rousing Tradition
Once again the inner garden of Matsumoto Castle was transformed into the most dramatic musical venue this side of Mt.Fuji. Normally accessible only via entrance fee, on July 30th and 31st the inner ‘honmaru’ was open to the public. As the sun fell toward the northern alps and the air cooled (slightly) the crowds gathered, spread out on blankets on the ground where the castle lords once slept.
Long before the first drum beat reverberated through the air you could feel the energy building.
Performers From All Over Japan
For two electric evenings taiko groups of adults and children from Matsumoto and the surrounding area showed off their skills in traditional Japanese drum fashion. Interspersed with these performances were some spectacular exhibitions by some of the best, most renowned taiko groups from around the country. This year also featured a special collaboration between local and national groups.
For more from this year’s event check out the National Treasure Matsumoto Castle Taiko Matsuri Facebook page.
Taiko All Year Round
There are taiko drum festivals all over Japan, put on by groups big and small. The most renowned taiko group, Kodo, is a great place to look for upcoming taiko drum performances.
Here in Matsumoto you can get a more subtle taste of taiko at the east-facing taiko-mon gate of Matsumoto Castle; occasionally the upper floor is open to the public, offering the chance to feel for yourself what pounding a real taiko feels like.
But your best bet is to get in on a taiko drum lesson where you can take a set of bachi drumsticks in your hands and learn to play like a taiko expert directly from a taiko master.
Here in Matsumoto you’ll find no shortage of festivals taking place throughout the seasons. But if you are lucky enough to be in town for the Matsumoto Castle Taiko Drum Festival do everything you can to make sure you take in at least one evening of the rhythmic sounds of one of the most heart-pounding events of the year.
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