Each year in May, Ogose hold a memorial service and fireworks at the World Unknown Soldiers Tomb [sic] on Mt. Taikan. The festival is always held on the second Saturday of May. However, it wasn’t on in 2020 or 2021 due to the pandemic. They had a small service in 2022 without the fireworks or additional celebrations.
⚠Update May 13th 4.15 pm: despite the rain they are still planning to launch the fireworks tonight!⚠
Ogose Memorial Service and Fireworks
The World Unknown Soldier Memorial Festival is often attended by many esteemed guests, such as the Governor of Saitama Prefecture and members of the House of Representatives. It is quite a solemn event as it is a memorial service for those interned at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers (or World Unknown Soldier Tomb as it is officially called in English in Japan). It is made up of a series of processions. For example, children in elaborate costumes walk with a parent, dressed in black, from the central community center to Ogose Station:
The processions start around 1.30 pm are followed by a ceremony at the tomb. At the ceremony, they pray for world peace, hit the bell of peace, and give flowers to the children. That ceremony is on about 2 pm. Later that night, the Ogose Town Chamber of Commerce put on a fireworks display, from about 7 pm. The official web page for the event claims that the fireworks have “become established as the earliest fireworks display” in Kanto. They may be talking that at the time of their inauguration, because they are not the earliest currently. In Saitama Prefecture alone there are at least two other fireworks before these ones; at the Yamada Spring festival and the Ranzan Cherry Blossom Festival.
Message of Peace
After writing up this event post, I was looking up something entirely different and I came across an interesting tidbit on Moshimoshi Nippon. According to the author, fireworks supposedly symbolise peace for many. Because they are made from gunpowder. And rather than weaponizing gunpowder, fireworks use it to create something of beauty.
There is also an exhibition of photos showcasing the construction of the tomb as well as the people involved in its construction. The main exhibition was actually on from April 20th to May 10th, but the photos will be displayed once again at the memorial service, at Ogose Station.
Event: World Unknown Soldier Grave Memorial Festival and Ogose Town Memorial Ceremony for the War Dead [sic] 世界無名戦士之墓慰霊大祭並びに越生町戦没者追悼式
Date: Saturday May 13th 2023
Time: processions from around 1.30 pm, ceremony from 2 pm. The fireworks are from around 7 pm to about 8.40 pm.
Venue: Ogose Town Hall, 900-2 Ogose, Iruma District, Saitama 350-0416. View on Google Maps. Ogose Town Hall / Sakuranoyama Park / Mt Taikan which are all close together. Ogose Town Hall is at the foot of the mountain. You walk up through Sakuranoyama Park, which also starts at the foot of the mountain, to get to the World Unknown Soldiers Tomb.
The nearest train station is the Ogose station on both the JR Hachiko line and the Tobu Ogose line. It is actually close enough to walk from the station. Or you can get any bus to the Ogose town office will bring you within walking distance.
There is parking for 15 cars at the bottom of the stairs of the tomb. However, you cannot use that parking lot during the festival. Furthermore, although there is further parking at the base of the mountain in the town hall / Sakuranoyama parking lot, that parking lot is usually used as part of the festival. It is best advised to use public transport to get to the service / fireworks.