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 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
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.
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. Time: 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 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.
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.
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.
Nicknamed “Moomin House” the quirky building pictured is one of three buildings in this free, unique and imaginative theme park for children in Hanno City; Akebono Children’s Forest Park. Once you leave your shoes at the door (which we didn’t on our first visit, cringe) you’re free to roam the house and discover the nooks and crannies.There are 3 floors and a basement to explore. The upper floors have little beds and items laid out to make it look like someone lives there. There are doors, windows, cubby holes, secret spaces, stair cases and lots more to captivate the littlest of minds. The park is geared to children, but there are few safety measures in place, so I recommend you stay close to your kids as they climb in the main house. You might also want to watch your own head; I bumped mine a few times!
In the Facility Management building there is a large play area, pictured in the gallery (at the bottom), with handmade toys the kids can play with. The park is open until 5, but the playroom closes at 4. Occasionally, they have events on in this room. The management building houses the toilets, including one with a baby keep and changing area. You are requested to bring used nappies home with you.
The 3rd building is an information station and reading area with books and a seats (←picture on the left). There is a selection of books including some Moomin stories. They have some great encyclopedia type books about insects and beetles too. Behind this building is one of the nature trails and the route to the waterfall, as well as the tree house pictured below.
The park is quite hard to find and I’ve never heard anyone talk about it, so I’m calling it Saitama‘s best kept secret-toddler-friendly-location. However, in a couple of years it will not be so obscure as they are currently building a Moomin Amusement Park METSA, said to be complete by Spring 2018 and maybe even before. It is the first Moomin amusement park to be built outside Finland.
The current park is free in and suitable for rainy days. I noticed an unsightly air conditioning unit out the back of Moomin’s house, so I assuming they use it in the summer. There is a small shop at the edge of the car park, but they don’t sell much in the way of food. They do have ice-cream! There are vending machines halfway up the slope that leads to the park. Unless you have an all terrain buggy I suggest you leave your stroller in the car, especially if you plan to do any of the hikes or visit the waterfall. It is a lovely area to hike in though, but some of the hiking trails will be lost with the development of METSA.
For anime lovers, this park is used as the back drop in the second season, episode 20, of the anime Yama no susume, “Climb of Encouragement“. You can see the anime images compared with the real life scenery in this blog article here:
Approximately 20 minutes from both the Sayama-Hidaka and Iruma Interchanges of the Chuo expressway. The park is situated behind Hanno’s city public gym and hockey courts. There is a Cainz beside it which is probably the best landmark. They are on prefectural route 195; 9 kilometres from route 16 if you come of the Chuo Expressway at the Iruma Interchange. Prefectural road 195 also meets up with route 407 which is the road I took from Sakado. The road is quite busy and only one lane for a lot of the journey. The car park is in the grounds of Hanno’s Taiikukan.