Tokyobling's Blog

Kawagoe Matsuri – Saitama Prefecture

Posted in Japanese Traditions, People, Places by tokyobling on October 20, 2014

Last weekend we could enjoy the biggest festival in all of Saitama Prefecture, the Kawagoe Matsuri. It is easy to forget about Saitama prefecture, dwarfed by it neighbor Tokyo to the south it is still a formidable economy in itself. Ranked as an independent country, the GDP of Saitama would place it somewhere between Portugal and Ireland. It has a population of almost 8 million and presumably about 12% of those visited the festival over the weekend. Not bad! But I am sure a lot of the visitors were from Tokyo.

The main draw of the festival are the legions of giant Dashi, or mobile festival platforms pulled about on giant ropes by the townspeople of the neighborhoods they represent. In the beginning of the festival they roam about over a large area but the later it gets the more of them converge on the main stretch in Kawagoe City’s old town, making for one spectacular and hugely congested traffic jam. Late at night most visitors have left already but the streets of Kawagoe old town are still so packed it yesterday took me about 30 minutes to move 100 meters. As I mentioned in a blog post last week, security was beefed up after last month’s accident involving a dashi at a festival in western Japan, all the dashi had new wheelguards installed (it looked a bit jury rigged but if it can prevent any accidents I am all for it) and there were twice as many police and security guards present as last year. If you are visiting with small children I recommend not brining any pram or baby stroller and to travel as light as possible. I saw some parents literally tied together with their children to avoid losing them in the throngs.

Despite the huge crowds, I am already looking forward to next year’s festival!

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3 Responses

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  1. WizardOfOss said, on September 9, 2015 at 7:44 pm

    I’m currently planning a trip to Japan in October and November, and was thinking of visiting this matsuri. I was wondering however, will the events basically be the same during both days? Visiting on Sunday would be more practical, or is there a good reason to go on Saturday?

    Like

    • tokyobling said, on September 10, 2015 at 3:21 am

      Hi! The festival is more or less the same on either Saturday or Sunday, although I tend to feel sad on the Sunday, because it is the last day! Sunday blues multiplied by ten. Probably not a problem for the average visitor though. So no, either day is good.

      Like

      • WizardOfOss said, on September 10, 2015 at 5:36 pm

        Thanks! On Saturday I’ll probably have a bad case of the jetlag-blues. Though, on the other hand, a nice matsuri might be the best way to deal with that 🙂

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