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  Experience traditional Japanese culture

with the Saitama Kawagoe Festival!(Part2)




Hello everyone!

My name is HSU WEI, a junior at Saitama University and a LOVESAITAMA ambassador in Saitama Prefecture!

Today I would like to introduce the Kawagoe Festival, a big festival in Saitama Prefecture, to everyone!




During the Edo period, Kawagoe was an important goods supply point for big cities like Edo (Tokyo), and was it’s north defense. Merchants frequently went between Edo and Kawagoe by boat on the river flowing through the city in order to carry out their business.For this reason, the culture and festivals of Edo naturally flowed into Kawagoe. The Kawagoe Festival was also influenced by the Tenka Festival that was popular at that time in Edo.

In 1638,the lord of Kawagoe caused a large fire in the city and the festival became a way to encourage reconstruction.After that, Kawagoe’s “Jukkamachi (十ヶ町)”(Kitamachi,Takazawamachi, Honmachi, Minamimachi, Edomachi, Shitamachi, Tagamachi, Kajimachi, Shigimachi, Matsuecho)started pulling festival cars and floats while singing,dancing, and performing music on them. Since then, the Kawagoe festival became more magnificent and is crowded with people year after year.




Today, a total of 19 festival floats are pulled from towns such as Otemachi, Kitamachi, Saiwaicho (2 floats), and Shitamachi. The “Kawagoe Hikawa Festival’s Festival Float Event” is designated as an important intangible folk cultural property in Japan, and is also registered as an Intangible Culture Heritage of UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization).


Now them, let’s look at the actual festival together!




When I arrived in Kawagoe, I encountered people carrying a shrine through the city.

The city is flooded with the festival feeling!




This was the first time I saw a performance on a festival float!

Since there was a performer, it became more crowded than on the day the floats were being prepared!


In addition, the festival float shown in this picture is an elevator type float car that can move up and down, the highest point being higher than the 3rd floor of a building!




Since the floats can be turned around 360 degrees, when the floats from each town encountered another on the streets, they start competing with each other (flute, drum, gong, dance)!

This is a rare sight for even the people living here so you could hear the non-stop shutter sounds of everyone taking pictures!




I finally arrived at Ichibangai, the center of Kawagoe!

The city has become a pedestrian heaven, but it was so crowded!




Floats like this were installed in places throughout the city.

When they are about to turn down a street, they will stop and the Japanese orchestra (flute, drum, gong, dance) will perform and then they leave again!




I got to see the Otemachi Uzume festival float that I covered in another article!!

The color was brilliant and truly beautiful!




It might have been due to the rain, but the evening sky on the day of the festival had a fantastic color and was very beautiful.




This old bank building in Kawagoe in particular looked like a scene out of a movie!




Night completely took over!

However, the performance is just starting for the people on the floats!


The lanterns are lit up at night and the floats change their appearance!

The Japanese orchestra (flute, drum, gong, dance) accompanying the floats also start to play more frequently!




I could see the floats leaving the warehouses!

The float warehouses are tall and big!




By the way, this was the first time I walked around Kawagoe at night!

The air felt more traditional when the bells rung in the evening!

I was imagining the people of the Edo period looking at the same scenery as me while I listened to the bell!




Five floats gathered at the intersection and started competing!

In my 4 years of living in Japan, I have never been to such a crowded festival before!

I am glad that I was able to see it at least once in my lifetime!



That was the Kawagoe Festival!

If you are interested in how the festival floats are built, please click on the link below!

 (Experience traditional Japanese culture with the Saitama Kawagoe Festival!(Part1))

Let’s meet again next time!