Chichibu Night Festival | CHICHIBU

At 2.02 am today, December 1st 2016 the Chichibu Night Festival, specifically the traditional music and performances of the festival, along with 32 festivals in Japan were confirmed and recorded as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage. Congratulations CHICHIBU. 🙂

Japanese people seem to have an magnanimous love of the number three. One of the ways this manifests itself is in the numerous compilations of top threes that are famous within the country. There are the three gardens of Japan, the three views of Japan, the three night views of Japan, the big three festivals, the big three fireworks and so on and so forth. Chichibu Night Festival also makes it on to a top three list or more accurately a “greatest” list. It is one of Japan’s three greatest Hikiyama (pull-float) festivals in Japan, together with Gion Matsuri in Kyoto and Takayama Matsuri in Gifu prefecture.



KASABOKO from Chichibu Navi page
KASABOKO from Chichibu Navi page
YATAI from Chichibu's Navi Page
YATAI from Chichibu’s Navi Page

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The floats of this 300 year old festival, which are very different to the better known Mikoshi (portable shrine), 奉奏are on wheels and are drawn by a rope, by bearers clad in traditional festival clothes.  There are a number of different floats classified as Kasaboko or Yatai. Both are floats with beautifully carved ornate roofs. There are two main differences between them.  The first is that the Kasaboko have an appendage on the roof, which remind me of Yorishiro, the white paper decorations you see around trees at shinto shrines. The Yatai does not have this decoration. The second is that the Yatai have room for performers to sit and play music and / or dance, which Kasaboko do hot have. They floats are pulled around the town on both days of the festival:

On the 2nd the floats will be pulled from Chichibu shrine from about 12 noon first to Miyakawa then Moto Machi, Naka Machi and finally Kami Machi at approximately 4 pm. During this time you can watch the floats being turned and danced around the street. The yatai will have live traditional music and you can witness traditional dance. From 10 am to 3 pm you can see traditional performances in Chichibu Shrine. From 4 to 6 pm there is taiko drums and other traditional music performances around Seibu Chichibu station. Fireworks are from 7 to 8 pm.

On the 3rd the you can see the kasaboko and yatai all around the city from 9 am to midnight. The yatai will be pulled with traditional dancers performing in the float, from just before 10 am on the same route as the 2nd: from Chichibu shrine to Miyakawa then Moto Machi, Naka Machi and finally Kami Machi which will be around 1 pm. Chichibu shrine will have music and traditional performances from 10 am to 3 pm. You can see a Yatai Shibai, stage performance, from 11 am to 2 pm in Naka machi near the kaijyou 会場. Oneri (Kabuki Douchuu) a type of acting performance will be held between 2.30 and 3.30 pm moving from around the Chichibu shrine area right down to Yao Department store.  From 10 am to 7 pm there are live taiko drum and other traditional music performances around Seibu Chichibu station and Chichibu Tetsudo station. The fireworks are from 7.30 to around 10 pm.

INFORMATION

Cost: FREE

Dates / Hours: Every year on December 2nd from 10 am to about 8 pm and December 3rd from 9 am to midnight.

URL: http://chichibuji.gr.jp/

TEL: to Chichibu Tourism at 0494-25-5209

ACCESS

From the Chichibu Tourism English webpage

BY CAR

  • Use National highway No. 140 from Kanetsu Expressway flower garden I.C.; in Chichibu-shi (from flower garden IC approximately 35km)
  • Use National highway No. 299 from Kanetsu Expressway Kawagoe I.C. or Tsurugashima I.C.; in Chichibu-shi
  • From Kawagoe, Iruma at National highway No. 299 via Shomaru tunnel in Chichibu-shi (from Hanno approximately 40km)
  • From Yamanashi side via National highway No. 140 wild goose slope tunnel in Chichibu-shi

BY TRAIN

Trains are usually very scarce in the evening in Chichibu, but each train line puts on extra trains for this special occasion. Usually the last train leaves around 10.20 pm. Please do check for up-to-date information on train times.

  • Getting off at SEIBU Railway Seibu-Chichibu Station (limited express from Ikebukuro approximately 80 minutes)
    To SEIBU Railway homepage
  • To each Chichibu-Railway Wado Kuroya, Onohara, Chichibu, Ohanabatake, Kagemori, Urayamaguchi, Bushunakagawa, Bushuhino, Shiroku, Mitsumineguchi nearest station (from Kumagaya to Chichibu approximately 70 minutes)
    To Chichibu-Railway homepage

Even more detailed access information here:
http://navi.city.chichibu.lg.jp.e.qg.hp.transer.com/access/

The Santa Round-up 2016 | CHIBA

Where can I visit Santa in CHIBA?

Santa Claus arrived into Narita airport this morning, November 25th, by plane to attend all the different Santa meet and greet events around Kanto. Please do note that Santa visits here are a lot more simple than in other countries. There is generally no grotto, no presents and no professional photographer.  You can take a photo, but with your own camera.

Below is some of the places where you can find Santa in CHIBA prefecture. Where you see the mention of a “Finnish / Finland Santa” means that it is the Santa that flew into Japan today (or a variation of him).  🙂  If you are looking for where you can visit Santa in Tokyo, that is also featured on this blog: The Santa Round-up 2016 | TOKYO

Please feel free to share this information around.  insaitama.com is a free and not-for-profit blog sharing information for those who don’t read Japanese.

 

FROM NOVEMBER

Ikspiari Town

White Santa is currently on his annual visit to Ikspiari Town, he arrived on NOVEMBER 8TH. You can only meet him if you have receipts for over 3000 yen. They also have another Santa meet and greet opportunity this year, if you take part in a campaign between November 8th and 30th, you will be put in a draw for dinner with Santa between December 22nd and 24th.
Official site: http://www.ikspiari.com/ent/event/christmas2016/
More information in English for this year:
http://insaitama.com/santa-ikspiari/

 

**DISNEY** You can no longer meet and greet Santa in Tokyo Disney Land and Sea. He does feature in the Christmas parades, but is not available for a close up!

DECEMBER

Ario, Ichihara

The Ichihara branch of Ario have a Lapland Santa visiting on December 3rd between 2 and 4 pm. This is a free event and will take place in the indoor part of Sunshine Court.
URL: http://www.ario-ichihara.jp/web/event/4aba9f15-db0c-42de-9222-87432602f902.html

Premium Outlets

Premium Outlets at SHISUI offer the chance to get your photo taken with Santa (bring your own camera!) on December 4th at the stage area in front of the food court. There will be four time slots at 10 am, 12.30 pm, 2 pm and 3.30 pm. Each time slot they will allow the first 50 families to visit with him. He will also visit the premium outlets in Ibaraki, Tochigi and Shizuoka on different dates.
Event URL: http://www.premiumoutlets.co.jp/sp/wsr_santa2016/

Toys R Us, Babies R Us

Santa will be visiting a number of Toysrus and Babiesrus around Chiba. Please note that some of these Santa are Japanese. You can check with your local branch to see which type of Santa is visiting. On December 3rd you can meet him at the Shin-Urayasu and Makuhari Shintoshin branches.  On the 4th he will be at the Shin Kamagaya and Funabashi branches. On the 10th he is at the Matsudo and Chiba New Town branches. On the 11th he is at Narita and Noda city branches. On the 17th at Chiba Naganuma branch. On the 18th and Soga and Ichikawa branches.  Times are 11am, 1pm, 3pm, 4pm and 5pm.  URL: https://www.toysrus-cp.jp/xmas/#scroll-SantaSchedule

Kashiwa Takashimaya Station Mall

Santa will visit Kashiwa Takashimaya Station Mall on December 17th at three different times. Between 10.30 and 11 am he will be in the 6th floor kids room, from noon to 1 pm he will be in specialty store at the 5th floor plaza and from 1.30 to 2 pm he will be at the Sanrio Gift gate on the 5th floor.  All of these are in the S Wing. More information in Japanese on the official site:
http://www.takashimaya.co.jp/kashiwa/topics/others.html#os19987

Sheraton (Tokyo Bay) Hotel

For patrons of the hotel or even just of the eateries in the hotel, there will be opportunities to meet Santa on both December 23rd and 24th.  He will visit between 6 and 8 pm on both evenings.
Official Site: http://www.sheratongrandetokyobay.com/jp/christmas2016

 

Ario,  Soga

The Soga branch of Ario have a Finland Santa visiting on December 24th at 11 am, 1 pm and 3 pm. This event is limited to the first 50 families for each time slot. They require that you have at least one child under school age, i.e under 7 years old. The event will take place at the 1st floor Sun Court.
Event URL: http://www.ario-soga.jp/web/event/d323c23e-f901-4be0-ac9c-66ea11254233.html

NEW Funabashi Andersen Park

GREEN Santa, an eco-friendly Santa from Denmark, will visit Funabashi Andersen Park on December 23rd at 11.20 am and 2.20 pm. Website: http://www.park-funabashi.or.jp/and/aevnts.htm

Narita Airport

This year Narita Airport is celebrating 25 years of Santa visiting.  As I said above, he arrived into Japan via Narita airport today, but he usually visits on Christmas Eve too. I will post more information here when it is released.

There are a few other places I am waiting to confirm whether they will have Santa visiting again this year, I will add them if they are confirmed. If you do know of any, please do share so that everyone can find a Santa near them. 🙂

 

 

 

 

Lapland Santa at Ito-Yokado | TOKYO

You will often hear Santa in Japan being referred to as a フィンランドのサンタ i.e. Finnish or Finland Santa. This is what we call a Lapland Santa at home. Basically, in Japan this is code for a non-Japanese Santa that is usually a native or 2nd language English speaker.  There has been a big increase in the number of “real” Santa in Japan in the last few years.

The Kasai branch of Ito-Yokado have a Finnish / Lapland Santa visiting 3 times on the 18th of December.  The sessions are at 11 am, 1 pm and 3 pm.  There will be an opportunity for a quick chat and photo with Santa on the 1st floor mall stage.

Event URL: http://blog.itoyokado.co.jp/shop/195/event.html

Access

Address: 9 Chome-3-3 Higashikasai, Edogawa-ku, Tōkyō-to 134-0084

Tel: 03-5675-1011

Hours: 10 am to 9 pm

Parking for 1850 cars

Nearest station is Kasai Station on the Tozai line.  Kasai Rinkai Station on the Keiyo Line is also close although its at least a 30 minute walk.

Santa is coming to Haneda Airport International Terminal Station | TOKYO

A Finnish Santa will visit the Haneda Airport International Terminal Station this Saturday November 26th.  They are giving out 25 tickets to families with young children to meet him inside the styles on the 2nd floor. You must have a valid train ticket for that station.  There are two sessions, one at 4.15 pm and one at 4.50 pm. He will be there for about 20 minutes each time. Tickets will be distributed from 2 pm on the 3rd floor.

Haneda Airport International Terminal Station is a railway station at Tokyo International Airport in Ota, Tokyo, Japan. The station is operated by Keikyu, a private railway operator, and Tokyo Monorail.

This particular event is not on the official train station website:
http://www.haneda-access.com/international/guide.html

 

Access

 

 

 

Santa is coming to Keikyu Department Store | YOKOHAMA

クリスマスシーンを演出する商品が充実

A Finnish Santa will visit the Yokohama Keikyu Department Store this Saturday November 26th.  They are giving 30 tickets to families with young children to meet him in the Hagu Kumi Park on the 5th floor, which is the kids floor of this Keikyu Department store.  There are two sessions, one at 1.30 pm and one at 2.10 pm. He will be there for about 20 minutes each time. Tickets will be distributed from 10 am in the Hagu Kumi Park on that day.

This particular event is not on the Keikyu Department Store’s website, but they have other Christmas events listed in Japanese:
http://www.keikyu-depart.com/kqdep/index.html

 

Access

In Kamio-Oka Station, Keikyu and Blue Train lines.

1 Chome−6, Kamiookanishi, Kōnan-ku, Yokohama-shi, Kanagawa-ken, 233-8556

Phone: 045-848-1111

Hours: 10 am to 8 pm

Source: ハグ・クミ・パーク | 各ショッピング店舗情報ページ | 京急百貨店

Iwamuro Kannon | YOSHIMI

iwamuro-kannon-12

When I first came to Japan it was as an exchange student with 6 of my friends from my University in Ireland. One of my friends famously said “If you’ve seen one temple, you’ve seen them all” and there is a truth in that. The magnificence of a temple doesn’t always lie in its appearance, but rather in the history and meaning behind a particular temple.  Many temples do look very like others and / or some are very plain and, frankly, quite disappointing to the naked eye, but on the flip side there are many that are both aesthetically pleasing and have a fascinating back story.  Then there are those that are different; that stand out for either their background or their architecture or both.  Iwamuro Kannon is, in my experience, one of those temples.

Located on the side of a cliff right by the side of the road, the temple is intricately positioned between two rock fronts. The ground floor of the temple is actually part of the cliff and the 88 stone statues, which are one appeal of the temple, are housed in caves within the rock. The stone statues are images of Kannon, the Bodhisattva of compassion. The temple is dedicated to this “Goddess of Mercy”. The building of the temple is a beautiful wooden structure positioned on stilts. There is no door on the temple and you are free to climb the steep stairs to the first floor where you can look out over the Ichino River on the North End.  In Spring the Cherry blossoms along that river are stunning and draw quite a large amount of tourists.  On the South end you see the steep trail that leads to the site of Matsuyama Castle. The only remnant of the castle is the moat, but you can view a diorama of the castle in one of the museums in the nearby 100 Caves of Yoshimi. You can exit the temple onto the trail at the back of the temple.  On your right you will see a ladder leading to another Kannon. On the left a staircase has been dug into the incline, with a chain rope for support, so that you can climb up to and pass under the naturally formed passage that is shaped like a heart.

iwamuro-kannon-9

Once upon a time Iwamuro kannon enjoyed many visitors as the 3rd stop (of 33), and only one in Yoshimi, on a pilgrimage of Kannon statues in the Hiki district. The Kannon are said to have 33 forms they use when helping sentient beings, thus the Hiki West Country pilgrimmage has 33 stops.  Nowadays, however, the temple is virtually abandoned, making it pleasingly tranquil. On the south side you are enveloped by nature, but the temple is quite literally on the side of the road on the North end. That road is mainly used to get to the 100 caves and as such isn’t used much in off season periods. The lack of visitors would imply that in recent years it does not enjoy much appreciation, fame or reverence, but it impressed me greatly. It is well worth a stop, in my personal opinion, if you are in the area.

iwamuro-kannon-5

INFORMATION

Cost: FREE

Parking: Shared with the 100 caves of Yoshimi. FREE

Access:

By Public Transport

Just over an hour from Tokyo.

  • Bus from Tōbu Tōjō Line Higashimatsuyama station (from Ikebukuro) to “Hyakkuana-Iriguchi” 百穴入口
  • Or Bus from  JR Takasaki Line Konosu station (from Ueno) to “Hyakkuana-Iriguchi” 百穴入口 from Konosu Sta.

By Car
5 km from Higashimatsuyama Interchange of the Kanestsu expressway, in the direction of Konosu.

 


If you are interested in learning more about Kannon, there is a very informative and extensive knowledge based shared on:
http://www.onmarkproductions.com/html/kannon.shtml

Santa in Tokyu Hyakkaten Honten | SHIBUYA

サンタクロース握手&撮影会

The real Santa Claus will visit Tokyu’s flagship store in Shibuya on December 17th between 2 and 3 pm. This is a small event and they will only accommodate the first fifty families to receive a ticket to see Santa. One family receives one ticket.

This event is also restricted to families who have a child that is in preschool or younger.  Don’t be caught out – the tickets will actually be distributed from 9.40 am at the 1st floor entrance.  When you receive the ticket you will receive information of where  you can visit Santa, shake his hand and get your photo taken (with your own camera).  If you don’t get a ticket you can still enjoy a mini Christmas concert the same day from 3.30 to 4 pm on the 1st floor.

Event URL: http://www.tokyu-dept.co.jp/honten/news/detail.html/?id=746

TOKYU INFORMATION

Facilites available for babies such as diaper changing areas and a nursing room.

TEL: 03-3477-311

Address: 2-2-41 Dogenzaka, Shibuya, Tokyo 150-0002

URL: tokyu-dept.co.jp

The basement and 1st floor are open from 10 am to 8 pm, 7 days a week.

Parking for 258 cars, free for 3 hours if you spend over 30,000 in Tokyu. Otherwise it is charged at 250 yen for 30 minutes.

Access

7 minute walk from JR Yamanote Line’s Shibuya station.

By car it is approximately 1 kilometre form the Shuto Expressway Shibuya Line Shibuya Exit.

Santa Claus in Tokyo |OCHANOMIZU 2016

This year Saint Clair in Ochanomizu are celebrating 10 years of Santa visits. It is not only one of the longest running Finland Santa’s in Tokyo, but also one of the most popular. People queue for hours for the chance to meet the real Santa.

This year Santa is visiting between 11 am and 3 pm on the 3rd of December. He will do an open address before that. It is a free event, but restricted to the first 120 families. You can meet Santa, shake his hand and get a photo with him. They start giving out the tickets around 11 am and they give a candy with the ticket.  People start to queue from early morning. You can’t meet him without a ticket.

Each year they hold a number of different events in conjunction with Santa’s visit such as live music and workshops. In line with the special anniversary they have a few additional events happening such as a commemorative coaster to the first 2000 customers.

URL: http://saint-clair.jp/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/57c43e02d7d100450b19a122cb0deffe.pdf

Access

Close to JR Chuo Sobu Line Ochanomizu station.

Close to Exit B1 of Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line Shin Ochanomizu station.

4 minute walk from Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Line Ochanomizu station.

Cafe Barbapapa @ Lake Town | KOSHIGAYA

【Information Share】

Today, is the year anniversary of the opening of Café Barbapapa in Lake Town Koshigaya. It was the first and remains the only Café Barbapapa themed cafe in all of Japan.  The French character is quite popular in Japan and the cafe has proved to be a huge hit. It can get quite crowded at times, but you can avoid having to queue or, even worse, being turned away, if you book by telephone in advance.

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The cafe has a number of draws, including the Barbapapa motifs and decorations, character goods and a fun menu. The menu is quite decent for a themed cafe. For kids the curry kids plate with dessert is one of the favourites and is reasonable enough at 734 yen. Its not a huge portion so is best suited to smaller children. They have a “vegan meat” burger plate for children too, unfortunately they don’t have details of the ingredients of the burger on their website so I can’t attest to how authentic it is. The maple choco pancakes are a bit more expensive at 1166 yen, but are a popular dish with children. They have some novelty drinks including the original cotton candy soda and their latte art selection: Papa Cafe Latte, Mama Maple Latte and Moja Cafe Moka.

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Information

Phone: 048-961-8407

Address: 4-2-2 Kaze 2F Aeon Lake Town, Koshigaya, Saitama 343-0828

Hours: 9 am to 10 pm, 7 days a week

Parking for 10,400 cars, free for the first 5 hours then charged 100 yen per 30 minutes except for weekends

URL: http://www.acrossring.com/brand/barbapapa.html

Access below photo

 

Source: Cafe Barbapapa

ACCESS

Minutes walk from Musashino Line Koshigaya Lake Town station.

4 kilometres from Gaikan Misato Interchange on the Tokyo Gaikan Expressway.

 

Other posts about Lake Town on this blog:

In the Event Section

Seasonal Outdoor Ice Rink

Lake Town Outlet Skate Rink | KOSHIGAYA

And in Sun City Koshigaya

Winter Illumination

Sun City Illumination Switch On Event | KOSHIGAYA

 

Shidax Karaoke with kids | VARIOUS LOCATIONS




The Shidax are a family friendly Karaoke chain that offer many different packages for an affordable few hours of fun with family or friends.  As it is a franchise, each branch is independently run and has its own system. Prices, packages and facilities differ between each branch. Some branches offer a kids room with extra facilities for young children. Other branches have party services. Most branches have reasonably priced  “drink bar” and serve food; those that do, don’t allow you bring in food (other than birthday cake) from outside. The selection of songs also varies by branch, but generally speaking I have found Shidax to have a decent selection of English songs and nursery rhymes for children. Most branches have a large selection of Japanese songs for children.

Karaoke is a great activity to do with young children on a rainy day. It is also a great spot for a children’s party. However, depending on the number of guests you might not be able to secure a kid’s room, you might have to get a regular room. To combat this, I ask parents to drop their kids off and pick them up after the party so that there is only kids and a couple of adults and we can fit in a larger sized kid’s room. The branches I use have food platters and drink bar which I get for the kids and I bring in my own cake. Some branches kid’s rooms have a better capacity than others and some may have even more services for parties. Do ask about deals when you are booking, sometimes we get it as cheap as 100 yen per child with drink bar included!

kids room at karaoke in shidax higashimatsuyama

 

In three of our local branches we are very lucky to have kids rooms.  I have found that the kid’s room size and services differ between branch. Most kids rooms have some extras for kids in them, such as play equipment and / or toys. You can borrow musical instruments from the front desk to add to the fun for the kids.  In any karaoke room it is possible to adjust lighting and sound to make it more suitable for children.  Higashimatsuyama branch, Shingashi branch and the Tsurugashima branches of Shidax have fairly decent sized kids room with a slide and toys in the room.  Each of these branches have an okay collection of children’s English songs, but a much greater selection of Japanese songs.

SHIDAX SAITAMA BRANCHES

Official URL (no English unfortunately): http://www.shidax.co.jp/sc/

Hours vary by branch, but generally speaking they open at 11 am.

A selection of Shidax branches in Saitama mapped on Google:

If you are interested in the Tsurugashima branch, I recently reviewed it on City-cost.com, below is a preview, you can click for more information.  It is just one of many Saitama branches of Shidax:

Review – Shidax Tsurugashima in Japan. Shidax is one of the largest chain karaoke stores in Kanto, but each branch is independently run. You won’t find a price online, because each store charges diff

Source: Place Review: Shidax Tsurugashima, Tsurugashima-shi, Saitama | City-Cost

LocalGuide showcasing the Greater Tokyo Area of Saitama

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