This annual “mikoshi” (portable shrine) festival occurs in the Kodama area of Honjo City. It is usually on the same weekend as the Honjo Gion Festival¹, the weekend of “umi no hi”. Umi no Hi is an annual public holiday in Japan. Unlike the Honjo Gion Festival, the Kodama Summer Festival is only for one day – generally the Sunday. In 2022, it has been scheduled for the first time in three years, for Sunday the 17th of July. However, it will be very different to a ‘normal’ aka pre-pandemic year.
¹The Honjo Gion Festival information has temporarily been removed from In Saitama as the event has not been on for three years now. However, I will repost it in the summer of 2023.
Kodama Summer Festival
In 2022, in order to prevent the spread of the Novel Coronavirus, the mikoshi portable shrines will not be carried by hand like normal. There are nine portable shrines in the Kodama Summer Festival, one for each district. Instead this year they will parade the portable shrines around town on the top of cars! I must say, I am quite impressed to see them thinking outside the box. Many towns or cities have opted just to display the mikoshi this year, without moving them at all. It is quite novel and innovative of Honjo City to think to parade them around on top of cars.
However, due to the pandemic and these new measures to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus, the festival will be very short this year. This year, the festival is only on from 1 pm to about 2.30 pm. It will start with a ritual blessing at 1 pm at the main Hachiman shrine. It is okay to visit the shrine on this day. The portable shrines can be seen here and then from 2 pm they will be driven through town. They have said that parade will only be on for about 30 minutes. (In addition, there will be a parade of sorts in the morning too, as the mikoshi arrive to Hachimangu, but that one is more for locals).
Kodama Summer Festival is called as the “Gion Festival of Yasaka”. The fights between portable shrines (mikoshi) nicknamed as the “Kenka (Fight)-Mikoshi” in which brave young people clash with each other are still performed. This is a festival where the strength of young people is highlighted especially in the contrast to the city’s long history. Source; Honjo Sightseeing English webpage
The festival is close to the Kodama Station on JR Hachiko line. This year it will be around Hachimangu shrine which is 8 minutes walk from the station. On Google Maps.
There is also parking available.
Find even more things to do in Saitama this summer here.