The Kawajima Spring Festival is set to go ahead for the first time in three years, on this the 50th anniversary of Kawajima Town. However, in 2022 it will be a low key event, or at least not the full complement of previous years. Actually, the “Kawajima Spring Festival” is relatively new, but it is modelled on an older festival that was hugely popular until it was abolished in 2018. Before the festival became the spring festival, there were two festivals annually at Heisei no Mori park in Kawajima in May. The aforementioned children’s day festival on May 5th and then later in the month a rose festival. They merged them into one “spring festival” in 2019.
The children’s day festival was a particularly good festival for families with lots of activities for kids. If it were not for the pandemic, the spring festival would offer similar attractions. However, there will be a kids corner in 2022, but on a smaller scale. But there will be no live performances this year. There is also a chance that the situation with the pandemic may cause a last minute cancellation of the event. Regardless, of whether the festival goes ahead or not, it is a prime time to visit Heisei no Mori park as it is home to Japan’s longest rose tunnel.
Kawajima Spring Festival
The festival attracts mainly locals, but they come out in force and the park is extremely lively on the day. There is a great atmosphere and although we have only been a handful of times it is one of my kids favourite festivals in Saitama. There are lots of different events and offerings in a normal year, some of which are outlined below for future reference. Also, while some of the playground is closed off for the festival, children can play in parts of the large playground. The wading river, a particularly good one, is normally open from Golden Week. But unfortunately due to the pandemic it probably won’t be available in 2022, for the third year in a row.
The very first time we visited this festival it was more a flea market with mainly food and toy stalls. They still have food stalls, traditional festival stalls as well as food vans, as well as shops and booths. However, before the pandemic they had really upped their game. They had live stage performances, character appearances, a boat ride, bouncy castles, various crafts and activities for the kids, and the main reason why kids really love this festival: the fish catching event. They always hung carp streamers in the park for children’s day too. However, in 2022, it will revert to a more flea market type festival due to the pandemic. There will be kitchen cars on the four days of the festival and a handmade market too.
Fish catching at Kawajima Spring Festival
One of the highlights of the festival normally is the extremely popular FREE fish catching event in the park’s large pond. The fish are released into the pond and children catch them by any means they can. They get to bring the fish home. The pond is separated into three parts and they use two of them. The larger segment is used for older children and another section is used for children of preschool age or younger. The latter only has about 20 ~ 30 centimeters of water. I am very sorry to say, this is not available in 2022.
In a normal year: you would need to bring something for the children to catch and hold the fish in. However, the staff usually have a few spare large bags for the children to use. There are a lot of volunteer staff and even a couple of police that supervise this event. I recommend you bring a towel and change of clothes, at least bottom wear, as the children will get at least their legs wet. Be warned; if your children are anything like mine, once your child participates in this event they will want to go every year! Again, unfortunately this is not available in 2022.
Live performances at the Spring Festival
Live performances include music performances by children and adults alike. My kids actually performed at this festival once! That was back when they were looking to become the next Corrs!! Now the older two are in one band and the younger two are in another band! I digress; there is also a character show and in previous years they had music and dance too. Unfortunately, there will be no live performances in 2022.
Hands on experiences at the Festival
There are normally tents with volunteers and Scouts offering children different experiences and teaching them crafts. The Scout’s tent is one of the most popular, with children lining up to make wari bashi depo (a type of catapult) and to try tightrope walking or to make survival crafts. There was a balloon artist in this area too, making animals out of balloons and giving them to children for free. There will be a kids corner in 2022, but it will be quite different to this usual line up.
Overall Kawajima isn’t a particularly well known town. However it is known for certain things or rather in certain circles! For example, it is well known among skydivers as it is the home to Tokyo Skydiving club. Foodies will known it for its strawberries, its soy sauce park and its Sutatte Udon. Moreover, it is worth a visit, particularly when this free, but fun festival is on, because you can also see beautiful roses in the park…
Date: Saturday May 14th, Sunday May 15th, Saturday May 21st and Sunday May 22nd. The roses will be lit up at night on those nights, and every dry night until May 31st, from 7 to 9 pm.
Location: Heisei no Mori Park, 920 Shimoyatsubayashi, Kawajima, Hiki District, Saitama 350-0122.
In 2022 it will be mainly food vans, handmade goods and flea market, a few events, a kids corner and roses in bloom! The iris maybe in bloom too.
Access Heisei No Mori park
By train and bus – Take a bus, from East exit of Tobu Tojo line Kawagoe station, bound for Konosu. 20 minute walk from 「川島農協前」(Kawajima Nokyou mae) bus stop.
By car – 5 minute drive from the Kawajima exit of the Ken-O expressway. Free parking for about 150 cars, but they also open an overflow car park for the festival.
First published in 2012, republished in 2022.