Various festivals are held throughout the year in Japan. The prefecture’s Chichibu Night Festival (Chichibu yomatsuri) is among Japan’s three major float festivals! The other two are the Kyoto Gion Festival (Kyōto gion matsuri) and the Hidatakayama Festival (Hidatakyama matsuri). Floats (Dashi) are basically elaborately-decorated platforms that are pulled (“hiku” in Japanese) during festivals, giving rise to the term “Hikiyama matsuri” (literally meaning “Float-pulling festival”).
Records of the Chichibu Night Festival date back to 1661-1672, so the festival has over 300 years of history behind it. One feature of this history-rich festival is the kasaboko, two large parasols decorated with spears and paper flowers; including another two stage floats, a total of four floats are paraded along the streets. This festival is designated as an Important Intangible Folk Cultural Property.
With floats being paraded around during winter in Chichibu, and fireworks being launched into the clear winter night sky, this is one Saitama Prefecture festival you should not miss. This is what a Kawagoe Festival looks like. Flamboyant floats decorated with lions, okame masks (Goddess of mirth) and hyottoko masks (a comical character depicting a man with a puckered mouth) are marched around the Kurazukuri Street. The grand spectacle of floats passing by one another in concert with blaring music is something really worth seeing. Kawagoe Festival’s biggest highlight has to be the “Hikkawase”.
There are numerous floats compete with each other in a performance of the “hayashi”(the players of flutes, drums and gongs, as well as the dancers), where participants hoist lanterns up high and raise their voices in cheers. The Hikkawase at night intensifies into a spectacular climax. Place is located in north from Tokyo, Saitama Prefecture is a place with many interesting sightseeing places. Access from Tokyo is easy, and there are plenty of alluring events that can only be encountered in Saitama Prefecture. Interesting? Please check it out!