The Tanabata Festival (Star Festival) is normally held from August 4th to August 7th annually in Hikawa Shrine Kawagoe. They have a Wind Chime event simultaneously. In 2020, due to the Coronavirus, they did not open the religious services to the public, just priests. But they did have the strips of paper out for you to write your wishes on. Moreover, in 2020, they also had their chinowa kuguri from July 31st to August 6th, so it overlapped with the star festival event for three days. The plans for 2021 have not yet been released. I will update this post when the information becomes available.
By the by, if you haven’t visited since last year, you might be surprised to see the kaikan is gone! They have been tearing it down since last Autumn. Just last month they got rid of the last remaining wall. That’s not the only change at the beloved shrine. There are two new buildings. One in the former main car park, the other in the former dai ni parking. Some of the dai ni car park remains, but it is now a coin parking lot. Thus, there is no longer any official parking at Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine.
The shrine is decorated beautifully with bands of colour from the Tanabata wish strips. You can enjoy the decoration all day and add your own wish to the bamboo trees, but the festival itself is in the evening from 6 pm on August 7th. They read kamishibai and have music and dance including shakuhachi flute performances. However, they do not plan to have this element in 2020 due to the coronavirus.
Writing wishes on coloured strips of paper for Tanabata festival:
The strips of coloured paper laid out for anyone to write and hang their Star Festival wishes:
For more details on the wind chimes at Hikawa Shrine:
Hikawa Shrine by night during the summer
In a normal year. Unfortunately (but understandably) in 2021 the “Hikaru Kawa” has been cancelled on account of the pandemic.
Access Tanabata Festival at Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine
Address:2-11-3 Miyashitamachi, Kawagoe, Saitama 350-0052
Access from Kawagoe Station
Koedo Kawagoe bus one day pass allows you unlimited travel on the Koedo Kawagoe buses. It costs 300 yen. In the bus they have a monitor with sightseeing information. Some tourist places give discounts on souvenirs or entrance tickets to people with a one day pass.
Koedo Meguri (Loop) Bus from Kawagoe station. You can buy a one day pass that allows you unlimited travel on the Meguri Bus. It stops at 16 different locations. 104 different shops, offer discount services such as souvenirs, food, and entrance fees to facilities for holders of this day pass. There are announcements in English and Chinese as well as Japanese so foreigners can feel at ease. More information here:
Map in the grey details box at the very bottom of the post.
As aforementioned; there is no longer any free / official parking at Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine (since April 28th 2021). There is a coin parking lot in the former Dai Ni Car Park, by the Shingashi River (far side of the river to the shrine).
For more events in Saitama, please see the main events calendar.
Moved to the events calendar in 2016 and updated annually. Republished in September 2019.