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. Another is the equally distinguished grand prize for the best hometown events. Both of these were awarded by the Japanese Government.
We often get asked on the Japan Travel Friendly Discussion Group on Facebook “where can I see a unique Japanese traditional festival near Tokyo?” The Suneori Amagoi Rain Praying Festival is about as unique as they come and 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, the rain praying 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 will be in the summer of 2020 from 1 pm. Due to the rarity of this event and the amount of preparation put into it, it goes ahead regardless of weather.
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. They carry it two kilometers to a pond: Tsurugashima’s Kandachiga pond. There the ritual for rain is conducted.
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.
International Exchange Fair
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.
Rain Praying Festival Information
Time: 1 pm to 5 pm
Where: 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
If you can’t make the festival this year, don’t worry – you can watch it live on https://www.ustream.tv/channnel/tsurugashimacity-tv
The next festival after August 7th 2016 will luckily coincide with the 2020 Olympics. You can enjoy this festival every four years on the 1st Sunday of August. However, due to the olympics in 2020 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 guide to Tsurugashima from the Tsurugashima Official Website:
On Google Maps
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