Honjo Gion Festival from the Honjo Sightseeing Association

Information for the Honjo Gion Festival in Saitama Prefecture in 2024.  

Honjo Gion Festival

The Honjo Gion Festival is held annually on the Saturday and Sunday that precede “Marine Day”, a national holiday in mid July. However, the festival was cancelled between 2020 and 2022, so last year (2023) first time in four years that the festival is on. This year the two day festival is on Saturday July 13th and Sunday July 14th.

The Honjo Festival attracts about 40,000 people each year. There are usually around seventy festival stalls. One of the interesting features of this festival is the 雨乞獅子“rain begging lions” or lion dancers performing rain dance; a twist on a shishimai performance. In addition, there is normally a children’s portable shrine procession and parade from 3.30pm on the Saturday, at the community plaza public space. From the official English webpage of Honjo;

Honjo Gion Festival from the official site
“Daimachi-no-Shishimai (lion dance)” designated as an intangible ethnic cultural heritage, from the official site

The ritual of Honjo Gion Matsuri began with the carriage of a mikoshi (portable shrine) at Yasaka Shrine in Dai-machi for warding off the plague. Other than the mikoshi carriage, the dedication of “Daimachi-no-Shishimai (lion dance)” designated as an intangible ethnic cultural heritage by Saitama Prefecture is performed.

Information in English on the official site.

On the Sunday, the 14th, there is another festival on in Honjo also – the Kodama Summer Festival.

Information

Event: Honjo Gion Festival 本庄祇園祭り

Date: Saturday July 13th and Sunday July 14th 2024.

Time: from 2 pm on the Saturday and from noon on Sunday

Cost: there is no admission fee.

Venue: on the old Nakasendo, around Hanipon Plaza, 1 Chome-1-1 Ginza, Honjo, Saitama 367-0052. View on Google Maps.

Access

The festival area is about a 5 minute walk from Honjo Station, around the Nakasendo highway center 1 chome intersection. There is some parking at this festival, which is the exception not the norm! At the Hanipon Plaza Temporary Parking Lot, which is beside the east exit of Honjo Station.

In due course, you should be able to find more information and the schedule on the official website.

For more events in Saitama in July see here.

The featured image on the thumbnail is from the Honjo Sightseeing Association website.

Editor’s note: this post was temporarily removed from the blog during the pandemic as the festival was cancelled between 2020 and 2022. 20180613. Last update June 21st 2024.

2 Comments

    1. Author

      Its usually on the middle of July. Lots of cool events for seaside towns, but poor old Saitama surrounded with only rivers… not so much!!

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