The mountaintops to the west are buried in several meters of snow. At night the temps in town are dipping well below zero. Yes, winter has taken over our world again – but we’re not hibernating, we’re celebrating, with a few new twists to an annual event. Welcome to the 2022 Matsumoto Castle Ice Sculpture Festival!
Breaking the Ice
The fun began last Friday evening as dark descended on the town. In front of the train station and Nawate Street, at the Hana-Tokei (“Flower Clock”) Park and on the grounds of Matsumoto Castle, artists wielded chisels and chainsaws, turning rectangular blocks of ice into works of shapely, frozen splendor.
These ice sculptures, colorfully illuminated at night, attracted plenty of attention on Saturday as well, sparkling in the sunlight under perfect blue skies. And to think this was only the warm-up to the festival’s main event!
Brilliant New Backdrop for a Familiar Scene
Braving the sub-zero Saturday night temperatures and working right on into the frigid morning, professional ice sculptors from all over Japan worked their magic. Streams of ice flakes flew through the air as tigers and dragons and fantastical birds slowly appeared from the frozen monoliths lined up along the castle moat.
This Matsumoto Castle Ice Sculpture Festival is an annual event, but this year was the first time the artists would be working in front of a castle being illuminated by a laser light show. With this new addition, the scene was truly spectacular.
Splashing Color on an Overcast Day
For the first time in recent memory the line of ice sculptures in front of the castle would stand on display under cloudy skies. The persistent gray backdrop notwithstanding, this year’s sculptures were as impressive as ever.
Another new addition to this year’s festivities was the creation of blocks of ice with brightly-colored flowers inside them. Men used needle-nosed power saws to carve out shapely holes in the ice. And then children were invited to choose their favorite colors with which to fill them. The result was a fun and brilliant contrast to the persistently overcast skies.
So Come Step Out Into the Cold!
No doubt, winter in Nagano can be pretty darn chilly. And this year is shaping up to be the coldest we’ve had in a while. But the cold is no match for the spirit of our town.
So come on out for next year’s Ice Sculpture Festival and enjoy the winter in Matsumoto! There’s no telling what new twists will turn up…
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