The Kuki Lantern Festival, also known as Kuki Tenno Festival, is one of the most famous festivals in Saitama Prefecture. In 2020 the event was completely cancelled due to the Coronavirus outbreak. In 2021, a small part of it was on, without any type of food or festival stalls. Moreover, it was for locals only. In 2022, the festival will not be quite what it was pre-pandemic, but it is large and boisterous enough to tick the festival box!
Kuki Lantern Festival
A must see festival: Kuki Lantern Festival (or Tenno Festival) is held annually on two fixed dates. Regardless of the day of the week, the festival is held on July 12th and July 18th each year. This spectacular Tenno Festival is the biggest lantern festival in the Kanto region (area around Tokyo). It is one festival not to miss if you are in the Greater Tokyo area in July. There is a good reason why a quarter of a million people attend this incredible festival every year.
The festival celebrates local folklore. It is famous throughout Japan. It has even been featured on overseas documentaries about Japan too. The festival supposedly started after a volcano erupted over 230 years ago. It greatly impacted the region. The Kuki locals banded together to lift the spirits of people in their city and indeed the kanto region with a vitalizing celebration. Thus was born the Tenno aka Lantern Festival.
During the festival, locals carry huge floats of paper lanterns through the town. There are seven in total, one for each district in the town. What makes them extra special is that the lanterns transform between day and night. During the day the floats depict mythical characters. At night they display the enchanting lanterns. Both day and night, traditional music is played by traditionally dressed musicians sitting in the floats.
Kuki Lantern Festival 2022 Information
Date: Tuesday July 12th and Monday July 18th
Schedule: The festival normally starts just after noon on both days and runs until 10 pm. However, in 2022 it will start at 11 am on the 12th and at an unspecified time on the 18th. For the latter, the festival floats will be moved to a central location by 3 pm, so they will be moved from their home base in the lead up to that. Both days the festival will finish at 9 pm rather than 10 pm.
The main action, the dancing of the lantern floats, is usually on around 8 pm at the Kuki Station’s west rotary. However, as the festival will finish earlier, the float face off may also start earlier. In a normal year there are approximately 100 festival stalls on the 12th and 300 on the 18th. I currently do not know how many there will be in 2022.
Cost: You can enjoy the Kuki Lantern Festival for free. Obviously any food or drinks will incur charges! Parking, if you can find any, is also charged! At festivals like these it is generally best to come by public transport unless you are familiar with where you can park in the area.
The area of the Tenno festival is close to JR Kuki station. Kuki station is about a 20 minute train ride from Omiya.
By car the festival is about a 10 minute drive from the Kuki exit of the Tohoku expressway.
Another “not to miss” festival is the Chichibu Night Festival held annually in December.
For more events in Saitama please see the main events category.
Things to do nearby
- Pedal boats and tandem bikes at Kuki Shobu Park | KUKI
- Soyu Himitsu No Mori, “Secret Forest” at Mallage | KUKI
- Famous Crane game center Everyday UFO, GYODA, Saitama Prefecture
Featured image and video from the official festival website.