Jun 12, 2019

Matsushima Park Festival 2019: Brief Highlights

Gallery - Matsushima Park Festival 2019

    Matsushima Park Festival 2019: Brief Highlights photo

    The beautiful coastal area near Matsushima-Kaigan station was the sight of yet another great music festival last month when the fifth annual Matsushima Park Festival filled the coast with more than a dozen live stages, all free of charge with rotating sets of musical acts coming through. Unlike previous years, there didn't seem to be as much genre-based separation as different kinds of music were played on each stage, mostly very successfully and entertainingly.

    My family and I didn't manage to make it out to the event until afternoon, but still had a very lovely time taking in the sights and sounds of the area. First we stopped at Toto restaurant near Matsushima Kaigan station. To our surprise, the front of the shop was open to let in the breeze and music from the band playing a stage just across the street. As we ate, the band played recognizable covers of some 80s and 90s rock classics.

    After our meal, we walked through the newly renovated park area, now set up with wide paths to allow for numerous stages and festival stalls, at one of which my daughter was delighted to receive a rainbow snow cone.

    The wonderful thing about this festival, beyond the fact that is it free, live, and varied music, is the location. Right on the water, overlooking one of the three best views in all of Japan, each band takes up their equipment and makes the best music they can. Many of the performers are amateur, which means the audience is not just hearing someone's hard work, but the hard work they loved so much and with such passion as to commit time and energy to it after all the other demands of life in Japan. It is important to remember that hobbies for most adults in Japan tend to be extremely limited and frequently tied to immediate monetary benefits, like studying English to get a better TOEIC score and then a better job and/or salary.

    Many of these people found a way to keep their passion for something that may or may not pay off alive through whatever else was happening in their lives. Considering many bands are from Tohoku, where almost everyone had some kind of major emotional or financial hardship less than a decade ago, the effort made is all the more poignant.

    This time, since we didn't have just one stage with my husband's genre preference, we meandered through and checked out a few acts on a few different stages. Some were lovely jazz renditions while others were recognizable 70s rock covers. Many songs were in Japanese but just as many seemed to be in English. The band in front of Godaido was even playing a cover of Summertime Blues as we walked by.

    By contrast, on Oshima, the little island near the beach, the small and lovely natural scenery was complimented by the music of a single songstress and her guitar accompaniment as we came through. The ancient stone faces and statues on the rest of the little island was also fun to look at and enjoy, the music adding a bit of magic to the surroundings. 



A working mom/writer/teacher, Jessica explores her surroundings in Miyagi-ken and Tohoku, enjoying the fun, quirky, and family friendly options the area has to offer.