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All Eyes On The Chichibu Night Festival - What Makes It So Special?

All Eyes On The Chichibu Night Festival - What Makes It So Special?

Saitama 2017.06.02 Bookmark

Chichibu Yomatsuri (Night Festival) is an annual festival of Chichibu Shrine in Chichibu, Saitama. With its 300-year long history, it made it on UNESCO's Intangible Cultural Heritage list. Read more about it below.

Translated by Jelena Kitamura

Written by Mayu

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Welcome to the Chichibu Night Festival!

ユネスコ無形文化遺産の秩父夜祭の概要・アクセス・持ち物など

Image courtesy of Chichibu Travel Department

The Chichibu Night Festival (Chichibu Yomatsuri) is celebrated every year in the city of Chichibu in Saitama prefecture, as it is an annual festival held by Chichibu Shrine. This festival has taken place for an impressive 300 years, for which it earned itself a place on both UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list and Japan’s List of Important Intangible Folk Cultural Properties.

What makes it especially fascinating is the hikimawashi (*1) of its festival floats (dashi in Japanese *2), decorated with numerous paper lanterns. The interesting style of pulling the floats sets it apart from other festivals, and makes it a proud member of The Great Three Float-Pulling Festivals in Japan, together with the Gion Festival in Kyoto and the Takayama Festival in Gifu Prefecture.

The two platforms used during the Chichibu Night Festival are the so-called yatai (a portable shrine) and kasaboko (umbrella and halberd combined on a platform). There are four yatai platforms and two kasaboko platforms making their appearance and livening up the festival, with similar but sturdy structures that can hold up to ten people on them. Some of them even weigh more than twenty tons!

One can say that the captivating look of the yatai and kasaboko, combined with the dynamic way the people move the floats around, is one of the great pleasures this festival can give you.
*1 Hikimawashi: pushing and pulling of the dashi while moving through the city.
*2 Dashi: Big vehicles or platforms used during Japanese festivals, usually pulled around by men. Their name varies depending on the region – hikiyama, yatai, danjiri.

The Schedule of the 2017 Chichibu Night Festival

ユネスコ無形文化遺産の秩父夜祭の概要・アクセス・持ち物など

Image courtesy of Chichibu Travel Department
You can visit this festival every year in December, from the 1st until the 6th of the month, so check out the schedule of the festival for 2017 down below. Also, don’t miss out on the pinnacle of the event on the 3rd of December, when the Grand Festival is held.

Held: from the 1st until the 6th of December, 2017

December the 2nd: The Yoimiya Festival, held on the Festival Eve. There will be floats pulled and pushed around from the very morning, but don’t forget to take some time to enjoy the colorful fireworks lighting up the night sky.

December the 3rd: the Taisai (the Grand Festival), or the Festival’s zenith. Of course, you can see the floats pulled from the morning. But that is not all – this distinguishing event starts at 18:00, when people visiting the festival form a line called goshinko, and head out for a slightly long walk of one kilometer from Chichibu Shrine to a place called Otabijo. The main members of the line are men wearing costumes from the Heian Period! Following the people come the platforms, all six of them, heading for Otabijo. Everyone, including the floats, should arrive at Otabijo around 22:00.

Next PageLearn About The Means To Get To The Festival On The Next Page!
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The information presented in this article is based on the time it was written. Note that there may be changes in the merchandise, services, and prices that have occurred after this article was published. Please contact the facility or facilities in this article directly before visiting.

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