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Matsuyama Spring Festival - Castle Festival

The Matsuyama Spring Festival is held during the first weekend in April when the weather is usually just starting to get warm and the cherry blossoms are in full bloom. There are numerous free events, that proceed with the enthusiastic participation of citizens and visitors alike.

Matsuyama Spring Festival - Castle Festival

The Matsuyama Spring Festival is held during the first weekend in April when the weather is usually just starting to get warm. If all is well, the cherry blossoms are in full bloom. There are numerous free events, that proceed with the enthusiastic participation of citizens and visitors alike.

The festival starts on Saturday morning with the Yakyuken event in front of Matsuyama Castle. Matsuyama is the original home of baseball (yakyu) in Japan, which was popularised by Masaoka Shiki, the haiku poet. Yakyuken celebrates this heritage with a party game combining gestures from baseball with scissors-paper-stone, to the accompaniment of a catchy tune and song performed by geisha.

From noon, there’s a performance of Iyobushi, traditional songs, in the Shimin Kaikan hall, and in the evening, there’s a lion dance in front of the castle.

On Sunday, there’s what is known as the Daimyo Musha Gyoretsu, a parade of the feudal lord and lady, accompanied by warriors and courtiers, through the middle of Matsuyama.

The event starts at 10 am at the castle with a Shinto blessing for the Lord and Lady. The avenue of cherry trees that lines the middle ring of the castle is usually in full bloom.

The Lord of Matsuyama, accompanied by some lovely ladies and some flunkies, make their way down from the castle to the cable car station. After posing for photos, they ride the cable car down the hill, and then join a procession that starts on Ropeway Dori.

The procession takes quite a while to get started, which provides a bonanza for photographers who snap away at the very willing subjects in period clothes. The procession actually represents a number of historical periods, starting with the Meiji era when Western Victorian clothes were the new rage, followed by the Edo period, and finally the time of the Warring States. A lot of effort goes into making the clothing authentic, and if you squint or take your photos in severe close up, you can imagine yourself going back into Matsuyama’s early history.

The parade goes down Ropeway Dori, through the Okaido Arcade, and down Chifune Dori. One of the ladies wheeled on a palanquin is always a minor TV celebrity, invited for the occasion.

Meanwhile, in the park within the moat at the bottom of the castle hill, there are stalls serving Ehime’s latest ‘B-Class Gourmet’ foods, some of which are very tasty indeed. In the nearby Ninomaru Garden where the feudal lord used to live, you can take part in a tea ceremony.

All-in-all, it’s a very enjoyable weekend in Matsuyama. The streets and parks are full of people, and if you haven’t already got some friends in Matsuyama, you can surely make some.

Information

Name in Japanese: 松山春まつり・お城まつり

Pronunciation: matsuyama haru matsuri oshiro matsuri

Address: 1 Marunouchi, Matsuyama, Ehime 790-0008

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