Laser Lights & Matsumoto Castle: A Curious Wintertime Spectacle

Thu, Jan 6, 2022


The people behind the scenes here in Matsumoto have come up with something special. Something light, bright and brilliant. Something that puts an intriguing twist on Japan’s famed juxtaposition of old and new.

Something that you’ll want to dress warmly for.

Every evening these days people have been bundling up and heading out into the crisp, cold Matsumoto air to see the laser light show going on at the castle. We’re not sure what the spirits of the castle lords think of the spectacle but the crowds seem to be enjoying it. If you happen to be in town, check out the show – it runs on an hourly loop from 6:00 to 9:00, so you can roll up any time and not miss a thing.


It’s actually a rather mellow affair for a laser light show. The minutes quietly creep by as blue and white dots of light dance and slip across the façade of the castle, accompanied by music that would be equally appropriate drifting out of hidden speakers at a formal banquet. This dreamy scene is interspersed at ten-minute intervals with a more lively display of lines and patterns of colored lights that go streaming and flashing over the black and white walls of the towers of this centuries-old National Treasure.





Various versions of the light show are played during certain weeks of the winter. For a taste of what is being shown in 2022 check out the short videos on Matsumoto City’s Official Website

I’ll admit I was a bit skeptical of the whole idea. The purist in me didn’t see the allure or the point of firing lasers at such a stately and historic piece of history. Ironically, I was initially a bit disappointed that the show didn’t amount to a frenzied visual overload backed up by a mix of Van Halen and Guns ‘n Roses.


While the various displays are scheduled to run until the end of February 2022, there are whispers that this will become an annual event. So if you missed this year’s spectacle, no worries – you have next winter to look forward to.

And as with every year, there is plenty of holiday spirit on display around town to enjoy.




Just remember to dress warm!