Chichibu Ondo Festival in 2023.
I feel like I’ve probably written this about 364 other times on this website, but the Chichibu district¹ is famous for having a festival (almost) ‘every day of the year’! Within the hundreds of festivals on annually some are bigger and better known than others. Perhaps the Chichibu Night Festival, held annually in December, is the most famous of all. But in summer there are also several that are well known within Saitama and the wider Kanto Plain. Such as, the Chichibu Ondo Festival held annually on August 14th and the Nagatoro Fundama festival, which is conveniently held the next day on August 15th.
¹The Chichibu District is made up of Chichibu City and the towns of Nagatoro, Minano, Ogano and Yokoze and Higashichichibu village, the last remaining village in Saitama Prefecture.
Chichibu Ondo festival
Chichibu Ondo festival is essentially a traditional dance festival. This year will be the 55th anniversary of the festival. However, the song “Chichibu Ondo” and accompanying dance upon which the festival is based, has a history of approximately 200 years. “Chichibu Ondo” is one of the three major folk songs of the Kanto region. The origins of the song and folk dance aren’t entirely clear. However, some say they were formed on the movements of kabuki and silk farming for which the region was known in the past.
Visitors are very welcome at this festival. They even teach visitors how to do the folk dance at a “dance corner” at the festival. Then you can join the dance parade in harmony with the official dance teams who are there to compete! There are generally about 70 teams with about 1200 competitors. They perform on stage with visitors dancing below. There is also a parade of dancing, where everyone dances in the same direction around the festival podium.
Moreover, you can see a fireworks display at this festival. The fireworks are launched from Minoyama at 8.45 pm. They launch shakudama, starmine and message fireworks. After the fireworks the dancing starts up again. Actually, I’m not sure the dancing ever stops! There are some festival stalls at the venue too.
In recent years, Minano City also have an event on the eve of Chichibu Ondo. That is, on August 13th. It is called Korasho Carnival. It starts at 5 pm and has several events for children.
Event: The Chichibu Ondo Festival 2023 第55回 秩父音頭まつり
Date: August 14th annually
Time: from 5 pm
Cost: there is no admission fee
Venue: Minano Town Hall Festival Square, 1420-1 Minano, Minano, Chichibu District, Saitama 369-1412. View on Google Maps.
The festival square is about a ten minute walk from Minano Station and about a 17 minute walk from Oyahana Station, both of which are on the Chichibu Tetsudo Railway line. Please note trains are infrequent and typically don’t run until late. There are four parking lots for the festival, you can see them mapped here.