things to do in Tsurugashima City Saitama Prefecture, the home of Suneori Amagoi

The award winning, intangible asset, Suneori Amagoi 脚折雨乞 Rain Praying Festival in Tsurugashima City in the Western area of Saitama within commutable distance of Tokyo.

Suneori Amagoi

The Suneori Amagoi Rain Praying Festival, which started in 1781, holds a number of cultural and festival accolades. The awards include the prestigious and coveted city designated intangible folk cultural asset. Another is the equally distinguished grand prize for the best hometown events. The Japanese Government bestowed both of these awards.

Unique traditional festival

Where can I see a unique Japanese traditional festival near Tokyo?” One of the most unique festivals is the Suneori Amagoi Rain Praying Festival. In addition, it is one worth going out of your way to see. What makes it even more special is its exclusivity – it only happens once every four years.

In recent years, due to a decline in the number of farmers, the rain praying festival is only on once every four years. Moreover, due to the rarity of this event and the amount of preparation put into it, it goes ahead regardless of weather. However, the last one was supposed to be in 2020, but due to the pandemic it was cancelled. The Saitama Tourism Association calculated that about 30,000 people attended the last festival in 2016. Far too many to practice social distancing! But great news for 2024 – the festival will be on in August 2024.

Gigantic dragon carried by 300 men for Rain Praying Festival Tsurugashima
Suneoriamagoi, From the Tsurugashima City Official Website

Rain Praying Festival

This rain praying festival involves 300 men carrying a 36 meter long 3 ton giant dragon God made of bamboo and straw. Moreover, they carry it two kilometers to a pond: Tsurugashima’s Kandachiga pond. The ritual for rain is at the pond.

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

The 300 dragon bearers wear traditional Japanese happi coats. Amazingly, the participants of the rain making festival make the dragon from scratch each year of the festival. This is because at the end of the rain ritual in the pond, the participants destroy the dragon to incite the God’s anger. They believe this to evoke thunderstorms, leading to rain.

You can read more about the history and meaning of this unique festival in detail, in English, on the Tsurugashima City website. 

International Exchange Fair

Coinciding with this rare and fascinating festival there is generally an International Exchange Fair at Wakaba Station on the same day. Wakaba station is also the station you use to get to Suneori Amagoi Festival.

The next Suneori Amagoi

In 2020, the festival was scheduled for the month of September. It is normally on in August. The date was changed to September to coincide with the Olympics. However, due to the pandemic the festival did not go ahead. Tsurugashima debated whether to host it in either 2021 or 2022 instead, but ultimately agreed on skipping it once. Therefore, the next Suneori Amagoi will be in 2024. And the date has already been set – Sunday August 4th 2024. If you are coming to Japan / Saitama in the summer of 2024, bookmark this event for an experience you will never forget.

Rain Praying Festival Information

Event: Suneori Amagoi Rain Praying Festival 脚折雨乞

Date: Sunday August 4th 2024

Time: 1 pm to 5 pm

Cost: no admission fee

Venue: The 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

Official website.

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

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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2 Comments

    1. I’m really excited about going, I’ve always wanted to attend a dragon festival… finally. And its in my neighbourhood (loosely speaking!) too. 🙂

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