The Ogano Gun Festival will be on in 2023 for the first time in four years.
Amidst all the culturally appropriated Christmas events of December is this unique and traditional gun festival in Ogano, Chichibu. Chichibu has hundreds of festivals throughout the year and this one is informally known as the “finale of the Chichibu festivals”. This annual event is on the second Sunday of December and the previous Saturday.
Ogano Gun Festival
The festival is about 200 years old. There are many different theories and stories about why the festival was started, such as, a prayer for a bountiful hunt. It is always on the second Sunday of December and the proceeding Saturday. But the Saturday isn’t always the second Saturday of the month (if the month starts on a Sunday). Hence, they decide from the Sunday.
From Chichibu Omotenashi website
…The highlight is the Shinto ritual called Otachi in which a sacred horse charges up stone steps amid gunsmoke and gunshot ringing in the air. The festival is richly complemented by the traditional flower parasol float procession to sacred music and a kabuki performance dedicated to the gods…Source: Chichibu Area Tourism Organisation Website
The event is on in the Hachiman Shrine in Iida, which is in Ogano in the Chichibu district of Saitama.
The above image and the featured image at the very top of the post and in thumbnails is from Ogano town’s official website.
The festival starts around 2 pm on the Saturday of the two day festival. At around 2.30 pm they pull the kasaboko around town. In addition, at 4 pm there is a sanbaso performance. However, the last event of the day is the highlight of the day. They have a very special traditional kagura performance, which starts around 8 pm.
The second day of the festival, the Sunday, starts from 10 am. There is Kagura on throughout the day. There is also a sanbaso performance around 10.30 am. From around 3 pm, a procession of daimyo march down the approach to the shrine while performing unique manoeuvres. This is followed by the climactic “Otachi” ceremony – a gunfire offering. Then there is a kawase shinto ritual. However, the highlight is the sight of two sacred horses running up the steep stone steps from the approach to the shrine building, amidst the pillars of fire and smoke fired from the muzzles of local hunters with hunting rifles and matchlock guns. The festival ends with a fireworks offering around 7 pm.
Event: Ogano Gun Festival 鉄砲まつり
Date: Saturday December 9th and Sunday December 10th 2023
Time: from 2 pm on the Saturday and from 10 am on the Sunday, until around 7.30 pm both days.
Venue: Iida Hachiman Shrine, Iida, Ogano, Chichibu District, Saitama 368-0111. View on Google Maps.
Access Ogano Gun Festival
This area is very remote and difficult to get to by public transport. There is a bus stop for the shrine ‘Iida Hachiman bus stop’, but I don’t know what bus goes there! Supposedly a bus goes from Seibu Chichibu station and stops at Kurio Bus Stop (linked to map) . However, the bus normally doesn’t go at night. The shrine is about a fifteen minute walk from the bus stop.
In the area: Ojika Shrine and deer park is about a seven minute drive away.
This post was temporarily removed from the website during the pandemic. It was republished on November 30th 2023. 20181205