Japan is a country that really knows how to host and enjoy a festival. Summer time is the main festival season, but you can enjoy festivals throughout the year. In the summer, most cities will at least hold a firework festival and most also have some sort of flower or nature worshipping festival and other cultural festivals too. I’ve been to a lot of festivals in my eight years, but today I thought I’d introduce you to one that isn’t mainstream and you may not even know it exists: the musket shooting festival!
The Nanbata Castle park in Fujimi has a festival every year on the first Sunday of the month. The musket shooting is a central part of the festival, but the show also travels around and is held in different locations on different dates in Saitama. Last year, 2007, we had the fortuitous opportunity to witness this rare display of samurai clad musket shooters at Nanbata Castle park. The shooters parade through the crowd ceremoniously before positioning themselves in front of the crowds and shoot the muskets in to the air. This is done a handful of times. Afterwards, the men in the warrior costumes, complete with Kabuto (warrior helmets), are available for photographs!
The year we went the festival was quite short, but they have since added a number of elements to the festival including taiko drum performances and street performers. The park itself is worth a visit even when the festival is not on, to enjoy the flora and fauna and see the period houses and relics in a time-slip village. They have traditional toys out for kids to play with, which include kendama, hanetsuki and stilts made from wood block and rope.
The address of the park is 568-1 Shimonanbata, Fujimi. For more information on the park in Japanese: https://www.city.fujimi.saitama.jp/30shisetsu/11nanbadajyo/sisetu-gaiyou.html.