Firing Lasers at Japan’s Oldest Castle Tower

Date : From December 16th to February 14th

Matsumoto Castle is a wonder to see in person. But our town’s centerpiece is more than just a pretty face. All year round the castle grounds play host to an array of events, from the Taiko Festival to the Samurai Gun Corps Exhibition to a variety of food and drink and music festivals. As the crisp Nagano winter settles in another brilliant event takes place: the Matsumoto Castle Illumination.

With the success of its pilot endeavor in 2021, this illuminating laser light show immediately became a mainstay of the castle’s list of annual events, bringing people by the hundreds out into the chilly winter night to gaze at the sleepy shapes drifting, the lightning-fast lines shooting across the castle’s normally staid, imposing façade, backed by music so mesmerizing you’ll forget about the temperature and the time and, quite possibly, the rest of the outside world.

The illumination display runs from mid-December right through to mid-February, lighting up the castle every evening from 6 – 9pm. The end of January also brings the annual Ice Sculpture Festival to Matsumoto Castle; for three days ice carving artists from around Japan and overseas create amazing works of art from massive blocks of ice, which combined with the laser lights creates a truly eye-popping experience. Photographers and Instagrammers and take note!

While the nightly illumination lasts for three hours, you can show up at any time without missing a thing. Bubbles and droplets of light float and fall over the castle as the minutes creep quietly by, sleepy music drifting through the night air overhead. Then suddenly a multicolored frenzy of light explodes in front of you, electrifying the castle and reflecting off the water in front of you to create a sight unparalleled.

Yes, the historic centerpiece of our little mountain town is a wonder to see in any season. If you happen to visit us during the winter months then you are in for a special treat. The Matsumoto Castle Illumination makes a nighttime visit to this National Treasure even more memorable.