Lanterns at Okegawa Gion Festival

The Okegawa Gion Festival has been celebrated for approximately the last 280 years. Okegawa city is not a particularly famous or popular city in contemporary society, but once upon a time it was a key commercial hub along the Nakasendo Path. The Nakasendo Road was like a highway that connected Kyoto and Edo. The festival was on last year for the first time in four years and it has been confirmed for 2024 too.

Okegawa Gion Festival

Okegawa Gion Festival

Mikoshi aka portable shrines, and dashi aka festival floats, are paraded through the town. There is even a children’s mikoshi. They also have a traditional monkey show, called “sarumawashi” in Japanese. In addition, there are about 400 festival stalls at this event annually. Moreover it attracts thousands of spectators annually over the two days of festivities. Each year it is celebrated on July 15th and 16th regardless of what day of the week they fall on. Both days the festival runs between 2 pm and 9 pm (approximately), but the main events are usually on between 5 pm and 8 pm. In 2024, the main festivities will be on from 6 pm to 8 pm on the Tuesday, the 16th.

Information

Event: Okegawa Gion Festival 桶川祇園祭

Dates: July 15th and 16th annually

Time: from around 2 pm to 9 pm

Cost: there is no admission fee.

Venue: around the east exit of Okegawa Station. See map below access.

Access

The old Nakasendo (the main area of the festival) is close to the East exit of JR Takasaki Line Okegawa station. About two kilometres of the road is pedestrianized for the occasion. Several of the surrounding roads are also closed during the festival period. There is no official parking. In 2024, we parked in a coin parking lot on the West of the station and walked through the station to get to the festival. If you arrive before 2 pm its not that congested, but if you arrive after 4 pm, expect to have wait quite a long time for a parking spot.

For more festivals and seasonal events in Saitama, please also see the events category.

Official event web page. 

Festival brochure

Also in Okegawa

Editor’s note: the festival was cancelled between 2020 and 2022. Last update July 15th 2024.

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