Category Archives: Events

Setsubun: catching beans for good luck at Kitain Temple | KAWAGOE

February 3rd is Setsubun in Japan, which marks the end of winter. People celebrate annually with traditional ceremonies in both homes and temples. A common tradition associated with this ancient festival is mamemaki or bean throwing. A lot of families carry out this fun tradition at home, but you can also visit a temple to do it with a crowd. Today, we did both.

When you carry out setsubun at home, the aim is to chase the ONI (ogres) away. It sounds like a metaphor for exorcism, but it is just a ritual to rid the house of evil and allow luck in for the coming year.  The oni represent evil and bad luck. We shout “Demons out, luck in” as we throw beans at an ogre, which is often the head of the household dressed up in traditional garb!  Most preschools and children community centers also mark the day with some fun crafts and activities.  I’ve previously written about our experiences of chasing the demon away while celebrating Setsubun at home.

When celebrated at a temple,  temple staff and honoured guests throw beans into the crowds from a dais.  It is not unusual for the temples to also throw things other than beans. In some places they throw fortunes or amulets or money or a combination of these. Tokyo has some temples that are famous for sumo wrestlers and / or celebrities throwing money to the excited crowds. Most temples conduct rituals before the bean throwing ceremony.  Some temples also have a performance by Oni, Japanese ogres or demons. The oni in Japan usually have one or two horns and wear animal print shorts. They are most often depicted as being red, but the most famous setsubun festival in Kazo, Saitama has 3 oni; one red, one blue and one black. There are many temples that conduct setsubun and mamemaki ceremonies throughout Saitama. We went to one of the biggest; Kitain Temple in Kawagoe. This year was the kids first to participate in a ceremony of this type. They were dubious at first, but they quickly joined in on the commotion and were thrilled with their haul. They recounted the affair to their grandparents with great animation and excitement.

The video shows the dais. You can hear the emcee chanting. The last thing he says is "Fuku ha uchi" which invites luck and signifies the start of the bean throwing. I turned off the camera so I would have a chance to catch some of the goodies. :-)

One of the reasons I didn’t bring them to such a ceremony up until now was because I was worried that the crowds would be intimidating, even dangerous. However, I found today that people were quite careful of children for the most part, plus they made periodical announcements to watch out for small children.  We were able to secure a nice little spot right by the dais with a responsible crowd around us, during the bean throwing.  However, just before the ceremony ended the throwers accumulated on our end of the dais with huge boxes of goods (not beans) to throw, so there was a sudden surge in the crowd. That was a little frightening for my 2 year old, but she was okay in my arms. It was actually a wonderful feeling when there were dozens of little packets falling from the sky and enveloping us in a feeling of richness! However, the scramble to pick up the fallen packets was both surprising and amusing. The kind Ojiichan (older man) beside us suddenly became an oni himself as he whipped a packet from under my hand. Another stood on a packet so that my six year old couldn’t pick it up! The generous Obaachan (older woman) beside us who had passed us packets of beans was slipping unseen numbers of packets into her pockets and handbag. Despite those incidents we got a good hoard and the kindness of the Ojiichan and Obaachan returned as they complimented my kids on their stash and their devout participation. Much to my surprise I felt totally exhilarated after the whole experience.

    

Apart from the various ceremonies that were conducted there were other festivities to be enjoyed at Kitain today. They had some festival food stalls as well as some stalls selling flowers and plants, but what interested me most were the various stalls selling good luck charms, mainly Daruma and Manekineko. As we entered Kitain from the car park we stopped to look at the Daruma at the first stall. The very friendly, personable and informative owner told us many things about the goods he was selling. While we were there a man bought one of the giant daruma which would cost around 20,000 yen (approximately 200 Eur0). We were invited to join in the Sanbonjime to mark the occasion.  Sanbonjime is the custom of clapping your hands rhythmically 3 times for 3 claps and one final clap to signify fulfillment. They only do this type of Tejime (ceremonial rhythmic clapping) when they sell their biggest sized Daruma. Passersby stopped to observe and exclaim enthusiastically. It was a lovely thing to be invited to enjoy and I think we may have received some good karma from it!

I have always enjoyed Setsubun as much for what it represents as the fun and vivaciousness of the celebration.  Now that the kids are old enough to enjoy the bean throwing ceremonies at temples, it just adds to the whole experience.  It completes the day for them too, as the celebration in the house is over quite quickly. The preparation of the masks and the aftermath of thrown beans take exponentially longer than the bean throwing ceremony itself! The kids love making the masks, feasting on the ehomaki, the traditional sushi rolls or makizushi and throwing the beans and eating them. (They say that if you eat the same number of beans as your age you will have good health for the year. ) However, I think after today’s experience,  what they are most anticipating now is the bean throwing ceremony at Kitain Temple Kawagoe. 🙂

For more details on Kitain Temple including maps, access details and other seasonal information:
http://insaitama.com/autumn-leaves-at-edo-castle-remains-kitain-temple/


A fantastic detailed and informative video about Setsubun in CHICHIBU SHRINE:

 

Mt Takao with children (includes New Years data) | HACHIOJI 【TOKYO】

The first time I went to Mt Takao with my 4 kids, they were all under 7 at the time. The youngest had just turned one.  I did the trip sans husband, but thankfully with my best friend, Japanese food writer Fiona Uyema, and her 2 children. I had chosen to take Fiona there, who was visiting from Ireland, after reading a very good write up about the Autumn Leaves in the area. I was very glad we made the trip and was pleasantly surprised at how easy the trip was to manage, even with small children.

When we visited it was bang smack in the middle of prime Autumn Leaf season. I didn’t know it at the time, but the day we chose to go had been reported the previous evening as to be the best day to view the Autumn Leaves in their prime. I think half of Tokyo got in their cars and made the journey to witness the leaves in their prime. The area was extremely busy, we even had to queue to take the exit of the highway. However, it was worth it.

Image from SONY JAPAN

There are a number of different trails you can do, so you can plan according to your children’s ages. 599 Museum supplies good information in English on the trails. Despite being a mountain area, the top of Mt Takao is actually quite easy to navigate with a stroller / buggy. However, if you want to hike the mountain trail, a buggy / stroller is  not advisable.  Also, there are places at the top of the mountain that you will need to park your stroller if you want to explore further. The easiest way (and most fun for the kids) to get up the mountain is the cable car. Even if it is very crowded, they don’t ask you to fold up your buggy, or at least they didn’t ask me – they told me to leave it open. It maybe that they took pity on me trying to flock my herd, fold a buggy and hold a one year old simultaneously! For older children you can also use the chair lifts.

There are two things that I would point out as potential difficulties with small children. One is that as you are on top of a mountain with a steep decline on one side and limited barriers at the side of the pavement, it can be quite unnerving if the kids walk close to the edge. Obviously, I told them not to, but… well they’re kids, even if they do listen, they forget and they can’t quite sense danger like a Mother can. Two; you have to queue for everything if you go at one of the prime visiting times; tickets, trains, toilets, food… everything. On the way back down if you want to get the last cable car, which goes around 5.30 pm, you need to start queuing up to an hour in advance. Also, another thing to take note off is that it is a couple of degrees colder at 599 meters. When we visited in November we needed winter jackets as the sun started to go down.

Despite the crowds and the potential danger, I think Mt Takao is an ideal place to bring young children, even babies, for a mountain visit. It is also a great place to introduce young children to hiking. There is a lot to do in the area, especially close to the cable car and train stations. At the bottom, near Kiyotaki Cable Car Station there is the relatively new 599 Museum, nearby and very close to Keio Takao Line Takaosanguchi station there is Keio Takao Hot Springs and a Trick Art Museum. Up the top, near the Takaosan cable car station there is a monkey park.

There are also lots of eateries, power spots and view points near this station.  Near the Takaosan cable car station at the top of the mountain is Kasumi, a popular spot with hikers for a quick bite to eat. They have 2 popular traditional type Japanese treats; Mifuku dango and Tenguyaki. Mifuku dango is a type of charcoaled dango, cooked in a circle around an open charcoal grill (pictured). One dango costs 310 yen. The Tenguyaki is a type of waffle with sweetened black soybean paste inside. A tengu is a legendary long nose goblin that is an intricate part of Japanese religion.  One tenguyaki costs 140 yen.  They sell ice-cream here too, including a Fly Honeysuckle flavoured ice-cream (pictured).

Takao-san is popular all year round, but it has boom periods which are mainly New Year’s, Cherry Blossom season, peak of summer (to escape the heat) and Autumn leaves season. Another thing that draws people to Mt Takao is that sometimes you can see Diamond Fuji from the Momiji viewing deck of Mt Takao, an opportunity is coming up this month in fact.  Diamond Fuji is estimated to be viewable around 4.15 pm on December 17th and possibly a day or two either side of that.

ZOOM IN: NEW YEAR’S DAY

Regarding New Years, it is hard to believe, but people hike up Mt Takao (or take the cable car) on New Year’s eve or very early New Year’s morning in the dark and bitter cold.  Accordingly, the cable car runs through the night.  In fact the cable car runs from 8 am on December 31st until 6.30 pm on January 1st to accommodate the throes of visitors on one of the popular New Year’s pilgrimages in the Greater Tokyo area.

There are three main incentives to do this:

  1.  to see the first sunrise of the year, which is generally around 6.48 am
  2.  to see Mt Fuji for the first time in the year (weather permitting of course) and
  3. to participate in Yakuo-in Temple‘s New Year welcoming rituals including “the festival to welcome the light”.

This temple also follows the traditional custom of gonging the Temples Gong 108 times to dispel evil. The Keio Takao San hot spring is open over New Year’s, but from January 1st to 3rd they charge an extra 200 yen, so 1,200 yen per person.

Mt Takao is very accessible by car from Saitama and Tokyo, if you are on the Ken-O expressway. From Tokyo it is quite convenient by train, but unfortunately from Saitama the train is a bit more tricky. By both car and train it takes less than an hour to get to Mt Takao from Tokyo. From Western Saitama it takes about an hour by car or train. The station you use to access Mt Takao is Takaosanguchi on the Keio Takao Line. On weekends and holidays two trains on the Toei Shinjuku Line also continue on to Takaosanguchi station. The exit on the Ken-O expressway is Takaosan. The Mt Takao cable car website has full information on how to access Mt Takao.


埼玉県の圏央道の近くに住んでいれば、高尾山は結構近いです。いつでも綺麗ですが、客様が多いときあります。お正月、花見、夏と紅葉の時期です。

 

去年、紅葉のときに行ってきました。先に知りませんでしたけど、天気方法によって、高尾山の紅葉の一番綺麗の日の発表あったそうです。ですから、ものすごく混んでいました。圏央道の高尾山インターチェンジから混みました。しかし、行って良かったです。

The Santa Claus Round Up 2016 | SAITAMA

All of the Santa meet and greet spots included in the above map are detailed in the event section of insaitama.com.  If you click on a Santa on the map it will open a small window with the location’s details and a link to the event’s details. Click on the link to be brought to specifics for that Santa Claus Meet and Greet event.

For those who are visiting Santa in Saitama for the first time, please note that Santa Claus visits in Japan are not like what you might be used to at home. There is no grotto, no present from Santa and you take a photo with your own camera. Most of the events are free, with the exception of the Maruhiro Santa events, which cost 300 yen.

33 Santa Claus Locations in Tokyo

19 Santa Claus Locations in Chiba

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/

Round up of Halloween Events 2016 | SAITAMA

Each year the number and quality of Halloween events is improving in the Saitama area. We’ve a way to go before we get to the level of Chiba or Kanagawa, but there is enough in the area for the kids to enjoy.

**Halloween kicks off in Saitama on October 1st.**

Daily From October 1st~31st

①Happy Halloween 2016 【Saitama Children’s Zoo】| HIGASHIMATSUYAMA

One of the few events that can be enjoyed daily during the month of October, the children’s castle in the zoo is transformed into a Halloween castle. They have Halloween colouring daily. If you colour a picture you get a sweet in return. On the weekends they have additional events, such as face painting and crafts. You can see more detail in English here:

Happy Halloween 2016 @ Saitama Children’s Zoo | HIGASHIMATSUYAMA

②Halloween Dessert Buffet 【Royal Pines Hotel】| URAWA

For the month of October you can enjoy an all-you-can-eat Halloween buffet in the Royal Pines Hotel. Further details in English here:

Halloween Dessert Buffet | URAWA


OCTOBER 2ND

③Kisai Halloween 2016 | KAZO

One of Saitama’s longest running Halloween celebrations is taking place in Kazo City from 11 am. It includes a costume contest, halloween parade and Halloween hunter event. There are also food booths and even a pet corner. You can get more information here:

Kisai Halloween 2016 | KAZO

October 8th

④ Fancy dress and Halloween Illumination Light up 【Shinrin Park】| NAMEGAWA

Shinrin Park kicks off its Halloween events for 2016 with the Halloween Illumination Light up. They are inviting kids to come in fancy dress.  More details:

Halloween lights switch on and kids fancy dress @ Shinrin Park | NAMEGAWA


Weekends From October 8th to October 30th

⑤Night in the Forest 【Shinrin Park】| NAMEGAWA

On weekends and the bank holiday Shinrin Park are running a number of events for Halloween, including crafts and their Halloween illumination. More details:

Halloween Night in the Forest @ Shinrin Park | NAMEGAWA

⑥Halloween Night Zoo 【Tobu Zoo】| SUGITO

On weekends and public holidays from October 8th to October 30th, Tobu Zoo is running a Halloween night zoo with special events. More information here:

Tobu Hybrid Park Halloween Night Zoo | SUGITO


October 15th and 16th

⑦”Let’s Make a Witches Hat” 【Cocoon 1 and 2】| SAITAMA

Let’s Make a Witches Hat @ Cocoon | SAITAMA

Let’s Make a Witches Hat @ Cocoon 2 | SAITAMA

October 22nd and 23rd

⑧”Let’s Make a Trick or Treat Bag” 【Cocoon 1 and 2】| SAITAMA

Let’s Make Trick or Treat Bag @ Cocoon | SAITAMA

Let’s Make Trick or Treat Bag @ Cocoon 2 | SAITAMA

⑨Trick or Treat 【Tokyu Hands, Lalaport】| FUJIMI

If you find the staff in costume and say “Trick or Treat” you will receive an original Tokyu Hands Halloween Candy .

More information in Japanese: http://www.tokyu-hands.co.jp/halloween/2016/ (External site: Tokyu Hands official page).

 


October 29th

⑩Happy Halloween | KITAMOTO

Happy Halloween in Kitamoto Higashichuo Street | KITAMOTO

⑪Omiya Halloween Walk | SAITAMA

Omiya Halloween Walk | SAITAMA

⑫Halloween Face Painting and Craft Workshops 【Shinrin Park】| NAMEGAWA

Halloween Night in the Forest @ Shinrin Park | NAMEGAWA

⑲Halloween Walk | HIGASHIMATSUYAMA

Added October 16th

Halloween Walk | HIGASHIMATSUYAMA

⑱STEPS HALLOWEEN PARTY

Amended October 16th to reflect the date and location change. For members of the Saitama Tots English Playdates group. The party will be held in Fujimi Toda.  More details can be found through the group. If you are eligible to become a member (>one parent speaks fluent English), you can find us here:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/saitamasteps/


October 29th and 30th

⑬Halloween Parade 2016 【Mallage】| KUKI

The Mallage Mall in Kuki will have 3 Halloween parades at 11 am, 1 pm and 3 pm on both Saturday the 29th and Sunday the 30th.  It is a free event for families with kids, but restricted to the first 100 customers and you need to apply in advance. The last day for entry is October 25th.

Further information in Japanese: http://www.mallage.com/shobu/event_list.php (external site, official page of Mallage mall)

21。Halloween at Seibuen

Exotic Halloween @ Seibuen Yuenchi | TOKOROZAWA

Amazing line up for the Halloween celebrations in Seibuen Amusement Park this year, including HALLOWEEN FIREWORKS, Illumination, face painting, magic show and more:


October 30th

⑭Halloween World | WARABI

Halloween World | WARABI

 

⑮Halloween Costume Parade 【Cocoon】| SAITAMA

Halloween Costume Parade @ Cocoon | SAITAMA

 

⑯Halloween Parade and Bingo 【Ario】| Ageo

Halloween Parade and Bingo @ Ario | AGEO

 

⑰Halloween Party 【Tobu Zoo】| SUGITO

 

Halloween Party @ Tobu Zoo | SUGITO

 

 ⑳ Halloween at Shinmisato

Halloween Parade @ Ikea, Costco, Lalaport | SHINMISATO


Seibu Yuuenchi seems to have dropped their annual Halloween event. If new information comes to light I will add it here.
Kennys Village (camping grounds) in Hanno also run Halloween events every year, but currently there website is down.

OMIYA HALLOWEEN FES is on October 29th this year. You can bring kids to it, but it is more of an adult event:
http://www.sportsone.jp/srt/stocks/srt20161029_121142.html

Do you know of any Halloween events in Saitama? Please do share here for the benefit of other English speakers in Saitama. Thank you 🙂

(Meeting Saitama’s most famous cartoon character at) TSUTAYA | KAWAJIMA

The Kawajima branch of Tsutaya re-opened today after a “renewal”. Unlike other “renewal open”s in the area, the shop has actually changed quite a bit. To mark the day they had a number of special offers, events and a very special guest star.

crayon-shinchan-3

Crayon Shin-chan is Saitama’s most celebrated anime character. (Totoro is the most famous anime movie.) Much to the delight of unexpecting kids, and even those of us who knew of his scheduled visit, his presence caused a stir and a thirty minute frenzy of kids going wild. True to his anime form, he was mischievous and even demonstrated some of his trademark moves, including his famous Buri Buri butt shake. The kids were all too happy to join in on that one. I have to say though, I was quite impressed by how much he actually played with the kids. He was down on the floor rolling around at one stage, he was running around with them, even tickling them; generally he lived up to their expectations of him being a fun character. This week they will have other events to mark the renewal opening. Tomorrow, Sunday the 12th, they are having a Doraemon event.

The Kawajima Branch of Tsutaya is a small to medium branch. The staff are extremely helpful, friendly and brilliant with kids. When you visit with children, they often give you free colouring pages or out of season campaign goods. They have a great selection of magazines, a moderate selection of books, a fair choice of stationery, a reasonable selection of toys, a sizeable selection of rental CDs and DVDs, but only a small selection of CDs and DVDs to buy. The kids corner is very nice and my kids really enoy it there. It has been extended in the renovation with new indoor climbing frames with slides. They don’t mind kids making a mess of the books and you can spend as much as you like there (within opening hours).   The renewal opening also brought with it a small adult only DVD area. Its tucked away in the corner out of sight, but only a curtain separates it from the main section. If your kids are like mine, a curtain might intrigue them, but thankfully the children’s selection isn’t near the corner.  They currently have a nice Halloween display with a good choice of Japanese Halloween books and a Halloween Tree!

 

The store is located on route 254 close to the Kawajima Interchange of the Ken-O expressway heading towards Kawagoe.  There is a Starbucks coffee shop across the car park from it. They hold an event together every 3rd Sunday of the month at 3 pm. Parents can enjoy a Starbuck‘s coffee while the kids enjoy storytelling. Parking is free.
Hours are 9 am to 11 pm, but there is a drop box for leaving back rented goods out of hours.

Halloween 2016 Event Round Up | CHIBA

GET READY!! Halloween is just around the corner and like last year insaitama.com will bring you a complete round up of all Halloween events in the KANTO area. For now, to get you in the mood and excited for Halloween, here are some of the events already planned for Halloween 2016 in Chiba.

CHIBA

Halloween at the Disney Resort

From the official Tokyo Disney Resort Homepage
From the official Tokyo Disney Resort Homepage

Would you believe information for Disney’s Halloween has been available since the middle of July? They are into Halloween just about as much as I am! This year’s Disney LAND parade has been named Halloween Pop’n live and they will also have the usual Halloween decorations, haunted house and special merchandise and Halloween themed food. In Disney Sea you can enjoy The Villain’s World: Wishes and Desires.

PERIOD: September 9th until October 31st.

For more information in English on Halloween in Disneyland:
http://www.tokyodisneyresort.jp/event/detail/str_id:tdl_halloween2016/en/
And for Disney Sea:
http://www.tokyodisneyresort.jp/event/detail/str_id:tds_halloween2016/en/

Ikspiari Halloween Town

From the official Ikspiari website
From the official Ikspiari website

Ikspiari is a shopping mall beside Tokyo Disney Resort. More information in English available here (linked: Japan Guide). In line with Disney’s Halloween events, Ikspiari also officially opens their Halloween Season on September 9th. The mall will be transformed to a halloween town and they hold a number of events. This year the have themed their town around pumpkins.  They will have some pumpkin games, such as a pumpkin basketball hoop challenge.

PERIOD: September 9th until October 31st.

Please see their website for up-to-date information:
http://www.ikspiari.com/ent/event/1206741_12023627.html

Halloween Town in Choshi

Each year Choshi transforms into a halloween town.  Volunteers, city officials and residents band together to create a fun halloween environment for children, with dress up, individual events, costume competitions and trick or treat.

PERIOD: October 23rd to October 30th.

The official website is: http://halloweentowninchoshi.jimdo.com/

Narita Yume Farm

For the month of October, Narita Yume Farm, entices customers with many special seasonal events, including their Halloween celebrations. There are incentives for coming in fancy dress, with points rewarded for each piece of costume. On different dates they have various activities. Last year, between October 1st and 31st you could enter a “guess the weight of the pumpkin” competition.  There is currently no information on whether that event is being held again this year, but they have scheduled in Halloween Lantern making on October 22nd, Halloween Camp and find the ghost activities on the 29th and 30th . The farm has many other events, attractions as well as a BBQ and camping area.

PERIOD: Month of October

They have a detailed website in English; http://www.yumebokujo.com/en/

Yukari Festa

For the last 20 years Yukarigaoka have been celebrating Halloween. The town gets into Halloween mode from the week before Halloween night and they carve pumpkins in the lead up and display for all to enjoy. They also have a fancy dress and costume competition each year. They have not updated for 2016 yet, but the information should be coming shortly.

PERIOD: Roughly October 24th to 31st

City Website: http://town.yukarigaoka.jp/ or inquire to 043-463-0784.

More Halloween events for the KANTO area for 2016 will be added to this not-for-profit blog over the coming weeks. Last year’s full round-up is pasted below.

 

 


2015 ROUND UP

2015 Halloween Round Up

Fireworks and Festivals on August 7th in SAITAMA

August 7th festivals fireworks

You can view a clickable version of the above image on the Event Calendar for Saitama. Simply click on the event name for more information and an external link with full details.

The Tsurugashima once-every-four-year event Suneori Amagoi features on this blog here: Award Winning, Intangible Asset Suneori Amagoi;, Rain Praying Festival | TSURUGASHIMA

 

Fireworks and Festivals In Saitama August 6th 2016

This weekend we are once again spoiled for choice with the quantity and variety of festivals and fireworks being held in various locations in Saitama. Here is a small sample of the festivals and fireworks on offer on SATURDAY the 6th of August. We have everything from super size fireworks to smaller local affairs. From mammoth crowd-drawing festivals to traditional lower key ritual celebrations.  Wherever you go, do plan for crowds, heat and fun galore!

Todabashi Fireworks





Todabashi fireworks are one of the biggest in Saitama. Approximately 12,000 fireworks are launched including starmines and shakudama. The displays are set to music. They normally have fireworks that explode into the face of a famous character. Last year, it was some Yokai Watch characters. The fireworks are launched near Toda’s race course with prime viewing along the riverside. You can walk from Toda Park station. The Itabashi Fireworks are held in conjunction with Todabashi. They estimate 52,000 spectators view on the Itabashi side and 42,000 on the Toda side. You can reserve a viewing spot at a price on the official website (below).  Queries to  Todabashi Firework Committee at 048-431-0206

Time: 7 to 8.30 pm
Access: Approximately a 20 minute walk from Takasaki Line JR Toda Koen station
URL:  www.todabashi-hanabi.jp.

 Sayama City Irumagawa Tanabata Festival & Fireworks

From the official website http://www.city.sayama.saitama.jp/manabu/mainevent/tanabata/




Listed in the top 3 Tanabata (Star) festivals for the whole of Kanto, this two day festival draws approximately 130,000 people annually. The city displays 140 tanabata decorations such as streamers and other paper decorations. There are about 300 stalls at the festival offering food, drink or traditional games such as the beloved “fishing” game, where you get to keep any fish you catch with a small net.They will also have some fireworks on the night of the 6th.

Time: 11 am to 9.30 pm, fireworks from 7.30 pm
Access: Minutes walk from Seibu Shinjuku Line Sayama shi station
URL: http://www.city.sayama.saitama.jp/manabu/mainevent/tanabata/

 

Sai-ka-sai Festival and Fireworks (in Asaka)

From the official website: http://saikasai.com/

Due to all this festival has to offer, plus its proximity to Tokyo, as well as the central location near Asaka station, this 3 day festival is one of the biggest of Saitama summer festivals. It attracts about 650,000 people and it gets great reviews from local and regular attendees.  On the 2nd night, this year the 6th of August, about 9000 fireworks are launched from 19.15 and there are 300+ stalls offering festival  food and/or activities. They open a stadium before the fireworks so it is possible for everyone to get somewhere to sit and enjoy the show.

T
ime: The festival is from about noon and the fireworks from 19.15
Access: 5 minute walk from Tobu Tojo Line Asaka Station
URL: information in English at the official website: http://saikasai.com/wp-content/pdf/saikasai_en.pdf . Japanese information here: http://saikasai.com/

 

 Yorii Tamayodo Suitenguusai Fireworks and Festival






Behold the spectacular setting of lantern floats with the magnificent backdrop of fireworks in this traditional festival that attracts about 70,000 people. There are about 5000 fireworks launched including the Niagara type and starmines.  You can buy festival food and drinks as there are about 80 stalls in the main viewing area.  There is parking for up to 2000 cars, some of which is free, but you would want to arrive early to secure a place.  It can be quite muddy, so appropriate footwear is advised.

Time: 7 to 9 pm
Access: About a 15 minute walk from Hachiko Line Yorii Station, 5 kms from Hanazono Interchange
URL: http://yorii-kanko.jp/tamayodo.html

Seibu Yuenchi Fireworks and Festival

The Seibu Amusement park fireworks and special celebrations start this month of August. Most weekends you can enjoy a firework show as a paying customer of the amusement park. The beer garden is a popular spot for a good view. You can also see the fireworks from some nearby locations around the park! Although the shows are usually only 20 minutes each, they are very popular and the park can be very crowded during August.

Time: from approximately 7.45 pm
Access: 5 minute walk from Seibu Tamako Line Seibu Yuenchi Station and Seibu Line Seibuen Station.
URL: http://www.seibuen-yuuenchi.jp/

 

Soka Fireworks

Soka locals volunteer and band together to bring you this small, but popular fireworks in Soka Park. About 5000 fireworks, including starmines, are launched between 19.00 and 21.00. Last year about 80,000 people attended. Queries to the voluntary team at 048-922-0151.

Time: 7 pm to 9pm, Opening ceremony at 6 pm
Access: 30 minute walk from JR Koshigaya Laketown Station or take a bus from Tobu Line Matsubara Danchi station
URL:  http://www.city.soka.saitama.jp/cont/s1401/a16/PAGE000000000000030153.html

Menuma Festival in Kumagaya

This child friendly festival has lots of traditional activities and festival food for people of all ages. Last year, apart from music and performances there was a bazaar and Flea market as well as kid’s show and Jyankan competition.

Time: 1 pm to 9 pm
Access: Asahi bus from Kumagaya station, but there is also free parking for 50 cars
URL:  http://www.city.kumagaya.lg.jp/kanko/matsuri/menumamaturi.html

Hanno Fireworks

A small display of fireworks set to the background of trees. These fireworks are popular with local families. Last year about 5000 people spectated near the Iruma River.   Queries to Hanno’s Tourist Board at 042-974-7900.

Time: From about 7.30pm
Access: About a 15 minute walk from Hanno Station
URL: http://www.city.hanno.saitama.jp/0000001569.html

Furutonegawa Floating Lantern Festival

Between 200 and 300 floating lanterns are sent down Furutonegawa river, including Japan’s largest lantern, during this traditional festival in Sugito Town.  There are stage performances over the weekend. Last year the Hanabi were on the Saturday, please note this year they are on the Sunday.

Time: 6 to 9 pm on the Saturday
Access: 2 minute walk from the East exit of the Tobu Dobutsu Koen station
URL: http://www.town.sugito.lg.jp/doc_lib/1/15080/2016%E6%B5%81%E7%81%AF%E3%81%BE%E3%81%A4%E3%82%8A%E3%83%9D%E3%82%B9%E3%82%BF%E3%83%BC.pdf



Also near the Tobu Doubutsu Koen Station is

Fireworks Illusion

From the Tobu Zoo official website

This event will not be carried out in the event of rain. There will be 4 firework displays in total in the Tobu Zoo over the month of August. 2000 fireworks, including starmines and the niagra type, are launched There is usually about 10 festival stalls.

Time: from 7.30pm
Access: About a 10 minute walk from Tobu Skytree Line Tobu Doubutsu Kouen Station
URL: http://www.tobuzoo.com/event/details/1118/

Apart from the fireworks and festivals on Saturday the 7th, there are also a number of special events on in Saitama. One of our picks is the night zoo at Saitama Children’s Zoo which is only open for 6 nights in August. You can see the dates and more events on the insaitama calendar.





A preview of Festivals on Sunday the 7th…

Suneori Amagoi Rain praying (Dragon) Festival

From Saitama's official tourism website http://www.sainokuni-kanko.jp/eng/
From Saitama’s official tourism website http://www.sainokuni-kanko.jp/eng/

Please see full  information here:
Award Winning, Intangible Asset Suneori Amagoi Rain Praying Festival | TSURUGASHIMA

Tatara Festival and Fireworks | KAWAGUCHI
Information to follow

Award Winning, Intangible Asset “Suneori Amagoi”, Rain Praying Festival | TSURUGASHIMA

The Suneori Amagoi Rain Praying Festival, which started in 1781, has been awarded a number of cultural and festival accolades. The awards include the prestigious and coveted city designated intangible folk cultural asset and equally distinguished grand prize for the best hometown events, both awarded by the Japanese Government. In recent years, the festival is only conducted once every four years due to a decline in the number of farmers. The next one is this coming Sunday August 7th 2016 from 1 pm and will be carried out regardless of weather conditions.

 

Suneoriamagoi, From the Tsurugashima City Official Website


The festival involves 300 men carrying a 36 metre long 3 ton giant dragon God made of bamboo and straw 2 kilometres to a lake in Tsurugashima’s Kandachiga pond, where the ritual for rain is conducted. The 300 dragon bearers wear traditional Japanese happi coats. The dragon is made from scratch for each festival, as at the end of the rain ritual in the pond, the dragon is destroyed to incite the God’s anger to evoke thunderstorms, hence rain. You can read more about the history and meaning of this unique festival in detail, in English, on the Tsurugashima City website. The Saitama Tourism website, Sai-no-kuni Kanko, anticipates 30,000 people will attend this coming Sunday.  Coinciding with this rare and fascinating festival is an International Exchange Fair at Wakaba Station, the station you use to get to Suneori Amagoi Festival, from 10 am to 8 pm on Sunday.

From the official Saitama Prefecture Tourism website http://www.sainokuni-kanko.jp/eng/
From the official Saitama Prefecture Tourism website http://www.sainokuni-kanko.jp/eng/

 

Suneori Amagoi Festival Information

Time: 1 pm to 5 pm
Where: Area from Shirahige Shrine to Kandachiga Pond, Tsurugashima City, Saitama
Access: Approximately 43 minutes from Ikebukuro Station in Tokyo. 15 minute walk from Tobu Tojo Line Wakaba Station. See maps and access photos below

If you can’t make the festival this year, don’t worry – you can watch it live on http://www.ustream.tv/channnel/tsurugashimacity-tv

The next festival after August 7th 2016 will luckily coincide with the 2020 Olympics. The festival is usually held on the 1st Sunday of August, but due to the olympics there maybe changes. I will update nearer the time. The Tokyo 2020 Olympics Golf Events are being held at the Kasumigaseki Country Club in the nearby city of Kawagoe. If golf contestants or spectators want to enjoy a quintessential yet extraordinary Japanese festival this is one to bookmark for your trip to Japan. More on Golf In Saitama: Golf in Japan :: Courses in Saitama

If you understand Japanese, here is a video about the festival and its background. Below that is a nice piece with English subtitles.





ACCESS

Access guide to Tsurugashima from the Tsurugashima Official Website:

From the official Tsurugashima website

On Google Maps

 

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