Kawagoe Festival Museum (川越まつり会館)
Speaking of Kawagoe, there is no way we could afford to miss the Kawagoe Matsuri ("Festival" in Japanese). Named as one of the 3 major festivals in the Kanto Area and a national designated cultural heritage , it is an annual celebration held on every 3rd weekend* of October.
Of course there are something unique of this festival apart from the ones we usually see around the streets of Tokyo. The most obvious difference is the presence of special parade floats called "Dashi". In Kanji characters, "Dashi" is written as "Mountain - Car" and as the name suggests, these spectacular floats are as tall as a mountain. On average there will be 15 Dashis on display each year and so of them date back as early as the late Edo Era. They are gorgeously decorated and on the top stood a real-sized figure representing one of the Gods.
During the festival, the Dashis will go on a parade along the historical streets of Kawagoe. At the same time, actors will dress up as mythical characters and dance according to traditional Japanese music called "Hayashi". The greatest attraction is when 2 Dashis meet each other at crossroads, they would "compete" with each other in music and dance. Although there will not be winners, this is what pushes the festival to the climax. At the end, the Dashis will gather in front of the Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine and put on an impressive performance together.
Even if you come to Kawagoe at other times during the year, you could still experience the stunning atmosphere of the festival in the Kawagoe Festival Museum. Inside there are 2 real Dashis on display, as well as video clips and artifacts explaining the historical background, procedure of making a Dashi and the actual festival itself. Probably it might make you returning to Japan again to participate in this memorable event!
* If the 14th and 15th of October are Saturday and Sunday respectively, then the festival will be held on these 2 days instead. Please don't forget to check the calendar!
Kawagoe Festival Museum
(Group ticket / over 20 persons ￥240)
Elementary, junior & high school students ￥100
(Group ticket / over 20 persons ￥80)
2-1-10 Motomachi, Kawagoe-Shi, Saitama
9:30 - 18:30 (April - September)
9:30 - 17:30 (October - March)
Image collection (Flickr)