Matsudo Explorations with CIR Erin, Summer 2017 Edition


Hello! And welcome to the Summer 2017 edition of Matsudo Explorations.

It has been an entire year since I started documenting my local discoveries on this blog. There is a great sense of satisfaction in coming full circle, and in rereading over the many outings that have brightened my past 12 months in Matsudo. Local life can certainly be filled with activity if you let it!

A change of scenery is how I best like to recharge my batteries, and at the beginning of June I was fortunate enough to travel to Thailand with my big brother. We had a glorious time exploring the island of Phuket together, and devouring the many curries, coconuts and other delicious treats on offer along the way. That being said, there was a definite sense of relief in returning home to Matsudo after my travels. And it was this sensation that has given me the motivation to launch into another year of exploring and writing about this lovely town.

Which brings us to my favourite season of the year! Yes, I love the summer weather. To me, nothing beats a warm evening spent enjoying a local festival. And with a cool drink in hand and sandals on my feet, that is how I plan to spend the next few months in Matsudo.

As I wrote last summer, it is my goal as Coordinator of International Relations ('CIR') to explore and experience the local area, and to then share local information in English with as many people as possible. I hope my entries here will provide you with some inspiration this season.



Erin, Coordinator of International Relations
3rd July, 2017

The Last Summer Festival and Bon Dance was a lively affair. It coincided with a cosplay event, attracting hordes of young people dressed as their favourite anime characters ( = more wigs and colored contact lenses than you can poke a stick at), in addition to the many people wearing the more traditional yukata. ...a contrast to say the least!

The festival is an annual event held in Matsudo Central Park, so be sure to drop by next year. Check out the pictures below for a visual -

It was a great pleasure to resume my seat on the judging panel for this year’s English Speech Contest. Stakes were high with 13 high school student contestants vying for the prize of an all-expenses paid trip to our Australian sister city (the City of Whitehorse) this coming March. And while some contestants dealt with their nerves better than others, the overall quality of English on display was nothing short of impressive.

This year’s victor was Ms. Kurumi Bandai of Matsudo Municipal High School. Her speech, entitled “Spices to Color Your Life”, was both heartfelt and thought provoking. Congratulations to Ms. Bandai for her success on the day, and a sincere ‘otsukare-sama!’ to all the remaining contestants for their courageous efforts. I hope to see you again next year!

Contestant winner, Ms. Kurumi Bandai

Contestants, judges and special guests

The first Saturday in August was a double-whammy of great local events. On my way to the Matsudo Fireworks Festival (refer below for my review), I dropped in on the PARADISE AIR Long Stay Program Opening Event. It was held in the event space above the brand new Tourism Information Centre - very sleek, indeed!

It was exciting to take a peek at this year’s invited artists - Minwoo Lee from Canada and Kristof Trakal from Germany. And while each has a unique different approach to their craft, both artists are interested in exploring the concepts of boredom and waiting. It’s still too early to say just yet how their residency projects will unfold, but I am quietly confident that the end results will be interesting (…or not, perhaps?!).

Their next event will be the PARADISE HOUR Open Studio on Saturday the 3rd of September. (Keep an eye of the PARADISE AIR Facebook page for updates.)

Opening Talk (Photo: Ayami Kawashima)

Kristof Trakal (left) & Minwoo Lee (centre) (Photo: Ayami Kawashima)


Summer in Matsudo is not complete without an evening of fireworks over the Edogawa River. Whilst the humidity and the sheer number of people crammed onto the riverbank can be a little overwhelming, it is totally worth it, even if just to enjoy the collective “Ooo!” and “Aaa!” of the crowd. Community spirit at its best.

This year I took along our brand new Coordinator of International Relations - Ha, who had arrived into Matsudo from Vietnam just several days prior (read her profile here). With great luck we had landed tickets for the priority viewing area. My days of watching from the bustling organisers tent are no longer, it seems. The Ha-effect is strong!

Keeping to form from past years, the fireworks themselves were great. Music, colours, bangs, fizzes and even some love heart symbols - you name it, they had it covered. My photos definitely don’t do it justice.

After having given both general viewing and priority seating a go, I can say with confidence that priority seating is a game changer. Less crowds = less stress, and the pre-fireworks entertainment was a really nice build up to the main event. So, if you’re in town next year, I wholeheartedly recommend buying tickets and making a night of it with friends and family. And don’t forget to BYO bento box, too!

The thing about living in the same community for a couple of years is that you develop firm favorites. And to me, August feels like a reliable friend that comes to town once a year, bringing the festival fun and eats that one daydreams about during the remaining 11 months. It’s a bit like deja vu, but eagerly anticipated! Yep, I’ve got August in Matsudo down pat.

It always starts with the Yagiri Beer Festival. This year I invited along an American friend of mine, Ben. We caught the bus from downtown Matsudo and arrived to find the Yagiri Station plaza completely overflowing with people (and beer, of course!). Ben’s eyes glittered as we made our way past the food stalls and stocked up on festival snacks. There were so many clusters of people going all-out ‘nomikai’ that it was difficult to find a place to stand amongst all the blue tarps(!). Alas, we found some space nearby the stage and soaked up some great live music. A big shout to everyone who let loose to bust a move while the band played - so good to see so much energy mid-week!

Yagiri Station plaza - crowded!

Hondo-ji Temple (10 min walk from JR Kita Kogane Stn. north exit) is also known as the ‘Hydrangea Temple’. As the name suggests, it is the spot for enjoying the hydrangea flowers that bloom in early summer. Hondo-ji’s flora game is actually pretty strong all year round, with cherry blossoms in the spring and colourful leaves during autumn. (Click here to see a couple of photos I took there during autumn 2016).

This was actually my fourth visit to Hondo-ji Temple in two years. I keep going back not only for the flowers, but also because the grounds are expansive, there is a cool pagoda, and because there are several great restaurants in the surrounding area.

I’m getting carried away with the intro again, aren’t I? Less words, more photos!

Hondo-ji Temple pagoda and hydrangea flowers

I recently took advantage of a free Saturday morning to visit the Kogane district in northern Matsudo. It was approaching peak hydrangea season at the Hondo-ji Temple, and I had also read online that there was an antique and craft market scheduled at the Tozen-ji Temple. Both temples are within walking distance of one another, with JR Kita Kogane Station conveniently located in between. Add in some fantastic weather and the outing practically sold itself!

I headed to Tozen-ji Temple first. Despite being just a few minutes away from the station, the Tozen-ji Temple grounds are tranquil and calming. There is a long stone footpath and several gates standing between the main temple and the road, lined with tall trees that cast the entire area into cool shade. The craft market was set up on either side of this stone pathway. The vendors had organised their stalls on portable tables and on tarps on the ground, between them offering a great mix of antiques, artwork, fabrics and handicrafts. There was also a small selection of fresh produce, an Indian food stall, and even several food trucks offering baked goods, shaved ice, and more. It was early in the day when I arrived and there were only a handful of other people browsing the market - a very laid-back vibe indeed!

I am a sucker for personalized artwork, so when I reached the ‘Kotoba-ya Marie’ booth I was sold pretty much instantly. A self-taught calligrapher, Marie’s art is an intersection between calligraphy, the Japanese language, and personal inspiration. The sign outside her stall read, “I will write something instinctively upon looking at you.” Like a caricature, but with words! So cool.

I sat in front of Marie, spelt out my name and chose my preferred colours. She looked at me for a short while before taking her brushes and turning her gaze to the blank postcard in front of her. As she crafted the piece we had a good chat. As it turns out, she and her family live locally (yay!) and this was also her first time at the Tozen-ji Temple market. A speedy 15 minutes later the piece was finished. It translates roughly as follows - “Your genuine eyes and spirit. The way they feel, the way they are. The living you is an inspiration to all.” Pretty lovely, right?

A big thank you to Marie for brightening my day.

Personalised postcard in hand, I made a pit stop at the main temple to pay my respects, before then backtracking through the market and out to the main road. The Tozen-ji Temple Antique & Craft Market was most definitely a nice addition to my Saturday morning. Held on the fourth Saturday of every month, I encourage all of you to drop by sometime soon. Check out the Events Calendar page for more information.

Useful links
Tozen-ji Temple: Website (Japanese only)
'Kotoba-ya Marie': Instagram Facebook

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今年の優勝者は、松戸市立高等学校3年の萬代 久瑠実さんです。感情を込めた発表で、スピーチのテーマも刺激的でした―「Spices to Color Your Life(人生を彩るスパイス)」。見事優勝された萬代さんに心からのお祝いを申し上げます。また、勇気を持って当日出場したみなさん、大変お疲れ様でした。来年も頑張ってください!

優勝者、萬代 久瑠実さん


8月最初の土曜日には、素晴らしい市内イベントが2つもありました(ダブルパンチ!)。松戸花火大会(感想は以下)へ向かう前に顔を出したのは、PARADISE AIRのロングステイ・プログラムのオープニング・イベントです。松戸市観光協会の新しい観光案内所の2階にあるイベントスペースで開催され、花火大会会場にも近くて便利でした。

このイベントは、今年度のプログラムで松戸に招かれた外国人アーティスト2人 ―カナダから来たミンウー・リーさんとドイツから来たクリストフ・トラッカーさん―の話を聞く最初のチャンスでした。アート制作に対してはそれぞれ独特なアプローチがありますが、市内にいる間、2人とも「退屈」と「待つ」という概念を探究したいそうです。お二人の滞在プロジェクトが最終的にどうなるかまだはっきり言えないのですが、面白い作品になることだろうとひそかに自信を持っています(それか、わざとその逆パターン?!)

ロングステイ・プログラムの次のイベントは、9月3日(日曜)に開催される「PARADISE HOUR」オープンスタジオです。(詳しくは、PARADISE AIRのフェイスブックをチェックしてくださいね。)








2年以上同じ場所に住めば、お気に入りが見つかるものです。私にとって8月は、そのような、年に一回遊びに来る頼りになる友人のようです― 一年間待ちわびた、夏祭りの楽しさと美味しいものを連れてきてくれるのです。デジャヴュのような感覚も少しありますが、楽しみに待ち望んだ時が来ました。…そう、市内で過ごす8月なら、私は意外と詳しいんです!










「あなたの純粋な目と心。感じたまま ありのまま 生きるあなたはみんなの希望。」


東漸寺: HP 言葉屋 まりぃ: Instagram Facebook

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