Stunning cement water basin with yellow floating flowers at Gyoda Hachiman Shrine in Gyoda City

As promised, a completely revamped post for the free monthly Hanachozu Week event in Gyoda City. The event has gone some through changes. Because I updated the original post frequently, the post had become a bit ‘messy’. Moreover, this year (2023), they are switching the event from the fiscal year schedule to a calendar schedule. Thus, to make the information clearer for the rest of 2023, I have completely updated the original post specifically for the second half of 2023.

What is Hanachozu Week?

Hanachozu Week is an award winning free monthly event in Gyoda City. The “Hanachozu Week” in Gyoda often features on local and even national news, as well as on social media platforms. The “Hanachozu Week” is actually two weeks long monthly. It is usually on the first two weeks of each month, but there are exceptions. For example, since its inception is has never been on in August. And in 2023, for the first time, it is also not on in July. In addition, in November and January the event is on the last two weeks of the month. Therefore, there is a month long hanachozu ‘week’ from the 15th to the 14th of the next month.

During the period of the hanachozu “week” there are dozens of “hanachozu” floral water fonts around Gyoda. You will find a map with participating locations below. For example, various shrines, shops and even cafes participate. Hanachozu are sometimes called “floating flowers” in English. It is possibly just a coincidence, but Gyoda’s famous Oshi Castle is lovingly nicknamed the floating castle. In addition to floral fonts on display for a fortnight, three of the places are lit up for one night. Moreover, the displays change each month, sometimes quite dramatically, so it is an event worth going back to time and time again.


Hanachozu Week 2023

The next hanachozu week is on from Thursday June 1st to Wednesday June 14th 2023. The event will not be on in July or August in 2023. It has never been on in August since the event began. But this is the first year it will also not be on in July. The dates for the rest of 2023:

  • Thursday June 1st to Wednesday June 14th
  • Friday September 1st to Thursday September 14th
  • Sunday October 1st to Saturday October 14th
  • Wednesday November 15th to Thursday December 14th (one month long)

Locations

walking map of the hanachozu floral fonts
Upper two thirds of the walking map, click to enlarge
Walking map of the hanachozu in Gyoda City
Lower section of the walking map, key on left hand side.

As you can see on the maps above, there are approximately 50 places that display floating flowers during hanachozu week. They are marked with a flower symbol on the map. There are also locations that are numbered 1 to 21. They are historic sites with flower displays. The locations with a larger flower on the map are Gyoda’s top five pick of places not to miss:

1. Oshi Castle

Oshi Castle

Oshi Castle is one of the prinicpal hanachozu spots in Gyoda City. Moreover, it is one of only a handful of locations that light up their hanachozu one night during hanachozu week. Furthermore, they have a stunning Japanese umbrella display that is also lit up that night. More information…

2. Sakitama Shrine

Sakitama Shrine

Another of Gyoda’s top picks, Sakitama Shrine is an interesting shrine with a rich history. Their flower display always offers something a bit different to the norm. The prayer plaques at this shrine are in the shape of cat’s faces and there are at least four resident cats on the grounds. Like Oshi Castle, Sakitama Shrine also lights up their floating flowers one night during the period of hanachozu week. More information…

3. Gyoda Hachiman Shrine

Gyoda hachiman shrine

There is one particular display at Gyoda Hachiman (the featured photo at the top of this post) that is particularly stunning. All the hanachozu in the town really are beautiful, but there is something very special about Gyoda Hachiman’s display in an old stone basin. Like the previous two, Gyoda Hachiman also have light up once a month. In 2021 and 2022, they were the only three places that did have light up monthly. Now a few others do too. More information about the shrine and its beautiful floating flowers…

4. Buratto Gyoda and 5. Oshi Castle bus terminal

Buratto Gyoda, which is another of Gyoda City’s recommendations, is a shop that sells local produce. There is a rest area with shade outside the shop, where they blow cool mist in summer. Oshi Castle Bus Terminal is the fifth and final on Gyoda City’s top hanachozu pick. From May to September there is a small water play area relatively near this bus terminal.


Monthly Light Up 2023

For one night during the period of the hanachozu week three locations participate in a light up event “Light of Hope”. Please note that more often than not it is cancelled if there is rain. As aforementioned, the three main locations are Oshi Castle, Gyoda Hachiman Shrine and Sakitama Shrine. However, in 2023, Buratto will also participate and the shop will stay open until 8 pm especially for the occasion.

It is on once a month (except for July and August) from dusk to 8 or 8.30 pm. (8 pm in winter, 8.30 pm from April to September). Generally speaking the light up is on the first Saturday of the month, but there are some exceptions. The confirmed dates for the Light of Hope for the rest of 2023 are:

  • June 3rd
  • September 2nd
  • October 7th
  • November 18th
  • December 2nd

Information

Event: Gyoda Hanachozu Week and Light of Hope 2023

Dates: as outlined above

Time: hanachozu are on display during the office hours of the participating shops, cafes and attractions. Night light up is on from dusk to 8 pm in winter and until 8.30 pm between April and September.

Cost: free

Venue: various locations in the tourist area of Gyoda City, outlined above.

Access

The nearest station is Gyodashi station on the Chichibu Tetsudo line. The station is close to some of the locations, but some of them are further out. As such it is quite a walk if you want to see them all, so comfortable shoes are advised!

If you are coming by car, there is free parking at several locations including at the Gyoda City Hall, Sakitama Shrine and Gyoda Hachiman Shrine. For the daytime fonts, Gyoda City Hall is quite central and within walking distance of many of the main floral font locations. For the night time events you can park at each of the three sites.

Official website

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