For the first time in three years – Kawagoe Yabusame.
I am no expert on yabusame, by any means. But as far as I am aware the yabusame in Moroyama is the most famous in Saitama Prefecture and this one in Kawagoe is small and lesser known. Even though I live in the area, I personally didn’t know there is a Kawagoe Yabusame until about five years ago. And I still haven’t had the pleasure of witnessing it. But I have visited the park where it is held and the adjacent Jorakuji temple. I actually visited again today in the hope that I might see some riders practising, but they weren’t! They do have the land prepped though!
Yabusame is the military art of discharging an arrow at a target while riding on a moving horse. At the Kawagoe Yabusame they use arrows with a bulb like end, i.e. not spear ended, for safety. There are six riders, 3 male and 3 female as far as I am aware, dressed in traditional garb. They shoot at three different targets. The horse riding begins at 1.30 pm after an entrance ceremony at 1 pm at Jorakuji temple, from where the riders depart.
Kawagoekan Historical Park
The Kawagoekan Historical Park is called ‘the Ruins of Kawagoe Family’s Residence Historical Site Park’ on Google maps and thus on various review websites. The official name, given by Kawagoe City, is Kawagoekan Ruins Historical Park. It is designated as an important archaeological site of Japan and is protected as a National Historic Site. There is a stone monument in front of Jorakuji marking the honor.
To be quite frank, unless you are a true history buff, the park isn’t particularly exciting. All that remains of the residence, which was a castle of types, is one small stone foundation, a (plugged up) well and a few markers of what used to be. However, it does look more picturesque than usual in Autumn when some of the mature trees in the park turn shades of yellow. In addition, Jorakuji is pretty throughout the year.
Event: Kawagoe Yabusame 河越流鏑馬. Kawagoe is written 「川越」, but the Kawagoe of this event is written 「河越」.
Date: Saturday November 19th. In previous years it was postponed until the following week if there was rain. Currently, there is no mention of that in 2022.
Time: 1 pm to 3.30 pm. (Opening ceremony at 1 pm, Yabusame from 1.30 pm).
Venue: Kawagoekan Ruins Historical Park, 河越館跡史跡公園, 194 Uwado, Kawagoe, Saitama 350-0816. View on Google Maps.
There is a relatively large car park for the park, but there is a stage there as part of the event and it can’t be used for parking. As you can see in the photo, there is also rent-a-bikes here. The official parking for the event is at Uwado Sports Park parking lot, along the Iruma River. There is parking for 300 cars there and it is only a short walk to the yabusame site.
The nearest train station is Kasumigaseki on the Tobu Tojo line. The park is an approximate 14 minute walk, north east, of the station.
In the area
A seven minute drive or 30 minute walk from the site, you can currently see some Autumn leaves in Oisezuka Park. There is a Starbucks beside it with a nice outdoors terrace.