Kawagoe (川越)Matsuri…a bit outside of Tokyo, but highly advisable 祭り 1st post of three

the official name is Kawagoe Hikawa Festival Float Event.

This was the second time we went there. (18 October). It needs taking the Tobu Tojo Line from Ikebukuro, and getting off at Kawagoe-station, that is already part of Saitama prefecture. (just the next prefecture north from Tokyo). If you are lucky and catch the express, that would take less than 40 minutes.
Kawagoe means crossing the river. It is a famous little town, famous thanks to its Festival (matsuri 祭り).

Kawagoe Matsuri 2014

Kawagoe Matsuri 2014

It was far better than the first time since we knew what to expect from this day. Weather was fabolous, for a mid October, a T shirt would have fit well.

Colours, music, people happy, lot of food streets. Yaki tori, yaki soba, yaki…anything else. Even pizza and kebab, only burritos were missing.

We started from the late morning at the Hikawa shinto temple

kawagoe hikawa

Kawagoe was called little Tokyo, in that time exactly sounded co-edo (小江戸)、that name now is something like a brand….A beer carry that name and I liked a lot.

Then we followed briefly the parade of the first float and before 2`o clock we grab something to eat at a close combini.

IMGP2138Then we went back to the gathering point, the first picture was taken there. until 3 o` clock.

IMGP2158According to the official time , the first event was ended so we moved toward the main crossroad and soon got lost into the crowd.

I took a turn into something I remembered as a sign of clever architecture design – from two years before –

IMGP2174and after few stops at interesting things we found a place for let play our son.


It was refreshing listen some birds other than the Tokyos`crow.


After some time we went to this cafe to have some relaxing time, during the afternoon.


The schedule was 13.00 to 14.00 the opening of the Festival, than from 18.00 the official parade with the musical competitions were happening on the streets. Thus after having played with the kid in a playground near the river, we had some not booked time to relax inside , that was our waiting time before six o`clock.  This was perfect.

As you can see the 2nd floor was under the roof. A traditional one, one I guess would fall without uncertainty under a serious earthquake. The beams were not horizontal.

They serve us two different cheesecake, and a coedo Beer.

IMGP2207everything was fresh and handmade. The kitchen from the window looked more like a surgery room than a pastisserie! Everybody was white dressed wearing masks. A bit unusual.

The famous feature of the Kawagoe Festival is their floats (Dashi) some of whom were fabricated more than 100 years ago. Unlike the common festivals in Tokyo,  where the mikoshi (a reproduction of the temple that the partecipants are carrying on their shoulders along the streets) is the main part, this Festival has those floats on wheels, made by wood.

kawagoe float, chariot There are around 30 of them, everyone has a different age. They represents several districts of Kawagoe or the city itself, or even some sponsors. The oldies are back in 1860ies, the youngers are from our time, some how until 2012, donated by a chain department store.

A picture from Tokyo International University, Saitama branch in Kawaagoe, from a flyer, explain the differents parts of the float.

There is an upper stage, at the top of which the doll is displayed. In the lower stage the masks, and musicians are living the float (by the way float is the translation I found in the flyers. I would have use  chariot, since this is the word in Italy for calling such things.) They have their drums, and they are playing their japane traditional flutes (shaku 尺). When the upper stage is down, people are sitting on the top of the float , and the roof is the middle stage. The lower stage is double because it is revolving, turning 360 degrees on its center.

In this link the complete pictures of all the floats.

Kawagoe is a place where the history is highly respected thus the main architecture you will admire is an ancient one, something like an heritage. However when you see something contemporary close to the ancient one, is always well thinked, well forged and not banal. That is why I inserted some details in the Gallery. A railing knot and a transparent roof as well as the traditioanl roof with soil between the tiles which is the most evident traditional element in the city of Kawagoe.

Here are more shots of the little Saturday Holiday.

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One thought on “Kawagoe (川越)Matsuri…a bit outside of Tokyo, but highly advisable 祭り 1st post of three

  1. Pingback: Kawagoe Festival 2014, 2nd post of 3 | cosmonauti a tokyo

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