When I got back to Matsue from Izumo the rain was still coming down and I stayed indoors for about an hour until it stopped. The sun was going down as I headed back outside and I decided to see if I could get any decent photos of Matsue Castle. Some lanterns had been set up on the road that runs around the castle moat but otherwise it didn’t seem like anything particularly special was going on that day. Little did I know, I was about to walk right into one of the city’s annual festivals.
As it turned out, I was in Matsue during a lantern festival called Matsue Suitoro. This festival is held every year, normally in October, and during the festival thousands of lanterns are set up on the castle grounds and along the moat. Tables are set up for locals to paint their own lanterns and there are also rows of larger lanterns that have been painted by professional artists. I genuinely had no idea that this festival was going on, so it was a pleasant surprise to stumble across it when I hiked up to the castle.
Most of the festival activities that night were happening in the central part of the castle grounds but I also walked to the upper level to see the main tower. From up there I could look down and get a better view of the field with all the lanterns in it. I would be returning to the castle the next morning for a proper tour, so that night I didn’t enter into the main tower.
I then came back down to the main festival area for another look at the lanterns. Many of them were decorated with basic paintings but some were impressively detailed. When I was planning out this section of my journey across Japan I didn’t think anything particularly special would be going on while I was in Matsue but I guess I ended up picking a really good time to be in town.