Nagatoro Funadama Festival

The Nagatoro Funadama festival will be on this August (2023), all things equal, for the first time in four years. It is one of the most breathtaking summer scenes in Saitama. If you missed the spectacular Yorii Tamayodo Suitengu festival, this is another chance to see stunning festival boats with lanterns floating on the river backdropped by fireworks.

General Information about Nagatoro Funadama Festival

Nagatoro Funadama Festival (or Nagatoro Funatama festival) is an annual festival held in the stunning Iwadatami area of Chichibu. It is on the evening of August 15th each year, regardless of what day of the week it is. About 70,000 people attend this festival each year to see the majestic lantern boats float on the Arakawa (Ara River). The festival is set off with an exhilarating firework display, that light up the sky behind the beautiful lantern boats. They generally launch about 3000 fireworks.

Festival’s origins

The festival’s origins are religious, with roots in both Shinto and Buddhism. It is said that the boats were floated on the river to pray to the water God for safety and protection for river workers. Shinto priests would perform a ritual on the waterways offering lanterns as offerings for the boatmens safety. As the festival falls on the Japanese holiday of Obon, which celebrates the dead, they added a Buddhist custom of floating individual lanterns in commemoration of people who have passed away in the preceding 12 months.

Nagatoro Funadama Festival
Image from the official Nagatoro Tourist Association

Information

Event: Funadama Festival (sometimes written Funatama) 船玉まつり

Date: annually on August 15th

Time: from around 5 pm, the fireworks display is generally around 7.15 pm. The fireworks end around 8.45 pm.

Cost: this is a free event 💗 However, they are always looking for sponsors for this event, so do feel free to contribute! In addition, you can pay 70,000 yen to have a firework with a personal message launched. They are taking applications until July 18th.

Venue: Iwadatami, Nagatoro, Chichibu District, Saitama 369-1300. View on Google Maps.

Official 2023 event web page

Getting to the Nagatoro Funadama Festival

You can get to the Iwadatami area of Nagatoro on the Chichibu railway. The Iwadatami, layers of rock, are located five minutes from the Nagatoro station. By car, the area is an approximate 30 minute drive from the Hanazono Interchange of the Kanetsu Expressway. However, it is best to come by public transport if possible. The area gets very congested when the festival is on.

Things to do in Nagatoro Chichibu

If you go to Iwadatami one of things you have to do is take the Line Kudari boat down river! The Iwadatami area is located close to Mt Hodo, the Nagatoro Ropeway and the famous Hodosan shrine, to name but a few of the local attractions. There may also be some cosmos in bloom at the Nagatoro Flower Village. They normally bloom in September, but I was at the flower park in early July and there were already some in bloom!

You will find a comprehensive list of things to do in the Nagatoro area on the official tourism English website. 

Where to stay

Sign at the end of foot bridge directing you to the station

Nagatoro Autocamp is a family friendly campsite with various accommodation options located close to Nagatoro station and relatively close to the Funadama festival.

The Waterpark Nagatoro is also relatively close with tent and cabin options.

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