Visitors heading to Matsumoto on June 25th are in for a treat, or perhaps better said a “trick or treat”, as that’s the day the city hosts its twentieth annual Matsumoto Frog Festival. Known locally as “Kelloween”, this family-friendly event celebrates the city’s unofficial mascots – the famous frogs of historic Nawate Street – in a festival inspired by the American tradition of “trick or treat”. Frog enthusiasts gather and many children visit wearing frog costumes in what is one of the most enjoyable festivals on Matsumoto’s busy calendar of yearly events.
Hop along to historic Nawate Street
Once a narrow strip of land between the moats protecting Matsumoto Castle, Nawate Street has long been home to vendors selling their wares to passing visitors and to this day retains an air of tradition. The narrow pedestrian street is lined by craft stores, grocers, food stands, eateries and antiques dealers. Frogs are a recurrent theme along the street, so much so that it is most typically known as “Kaeru Michi” or “Frog Street”. There’s a reason why… but to find out, you’ll have to ask the locals.
Yohashira Shrine is located at the western end of Nawate Street. Dedicated to children, it hosts many festivals throughout the year and is located just a few blocks away from Matsumoto Castle and only a couple of hops from the city’s other historic shopping street, Nakamachi.
“Kellowen” Frog Festival
On the day of the festival, vendors, artists and students of Shinshu University welcome the community to Nawate Street in celebration of everything frog-related. Puzzle-solving games, art installations and prayers at Nawate’s frog shrine are all part of the fun on a day enjoyed by families, friends and frog-lovers of all ages.
Japanese children mimic frogs by croaking “kello kello” and in a tradition also mimicking the American pastime of “trick or treat” on Halloween, “Kelloween” sees local children dress as frogs and approach local vendors to say just that! This above all else is the true highlight of the festival and a sight you’ll only see once a year in Matsumoto!
The Matsumoto Frog Festival will be held on Nawate Street on June 25th 2023 from 10:00 to 17:00. Admission is free.
Join a walking tour in Matsumoto
For visitors wanting to enjoy the best of everything Matsumoto has to offer, feel free to join one of our walking tours! Our local guide will help you get the most out of your time in the historic city including the famous Matsumoto Castle and, of course, by heading to “Kelloween”, where they will explain just what’s behind all the frogs!