Information for this “Only in
Japan Saitama” one of a kind “mud” festival.
Hirakata no Doroinkyo 平方のどろいんきょ Mud Festival
The Hirakata no Doroinkyo or Hirakata Mud Festival is not only an “Only in Japan” festival, it is an “Only one of its kind” festival. Due to the uniqueness, illustriousness and rarity of this special event it has been designated an intangible folk cultural asset by Saitama Prefecture. It was registered with the word “gion” also in the title, but that has been dropped colloquially and its just called Hirkata no Doroinkyo.
The festival uses a Mikoshi (palanquin or portable shrine), but not the elaborate mikoshi you usually see at summer festivals. It is a plain wooden portable shrine. The reason is, as the name of the festival suggests, it gets very muddy! Avoid high heels and white shirts if you plan to go along to witness one of Saitama’s (indeed Japan’s) rarer traditional festivals!
The shrine is carried into gardens and sprayed with water then rolled in mud until it is covered. Each garden lays out offerings which is another distinctive element of this festival. Buckets of water are thrown over the mikoshi and the bearers regularly. The bearers of the shrine also get covered in mud and its not unusual for a spectator to get splashes or more of mud. Halfway through the parading of the mikoshi from garden to garden, they take it down to the river for a ritual water blessing. And then its back to the mud!
It is held annually on the day before “Umi No Hi”, which is the July public holiday. In 2023, it falls on Sunday July 16th. However, this is the first time in four years the event has been scheduled. It was not on between 2020 and 2022 due to the pandemic. On the same day, there is also another festival – a summer festival – also in Ageo.
A firsthand report from the festival (I have no affiliation to this website) :
Event: Hirakata Gion Doroinkyo Mud Festival 平方祇園祭のどろいんきょ
Date: Sunday July 16th 2023
Time: from 1 pm
Venue: in the vicinity of Yaeda Shrine, 488 Hirakata, Ageo, Saitama 〒362-0059. View on Google Maps.
The mud festival is held in the Hirataka area of Ageo. If you’ve ever been to Maruyama Park in Ageo, chances are you’ve passed the shrine from where the shrine is carried. There is a very small car park at the shrine, but you can’t use it on the day. Moreover, there is very limited parking in the area full stop. It is best to take a bus from JR Ageo station and alight at the “Hirakata Shrine” bus stop. It is a five minute walk from that bus stop.
For more special festivals and summer events in Saitama please see the main event category.