The Minami Otsuka Mochitsuki Dance, with a history of more than 200 years, is held every year on the Sunday before Japan’s Coming-of-Age day. However, the event was not on in 2021 or 2022 due to the pandemic. This is the first time in three years that the event will go ahead, all things equal. The Minami Otsuka Mochitsuki Dance is a designated Cultural property of Saitama Prefecture.
Minami Otsuka Mochitsuki Dance
Mochitsuki is generally translated as “rice cake making”. It is the process whereby the rice is pounded into a glutinous mush that is then used for “mochi”, sticky sweet rice. “Mochi” is a popular treat over the New Year’s period. And this mochitsuki dance is a beautiful unique Kawagoe cultural New Year event.
Originally, the Minami Otsuka mochitsuki dance was actually performed around the 7-5-3 festival in November annually. It was started as a celebration for the 7-5-3 when a wealthy family had a child celebrating it in their family. It is a celebratory blessing that closely resembles the religious Mansaku Odori (odori means dance). The festival is celebrated in Saifukuji Temple in the Minamiotsuka area of Kawagoe city.
The festival is also called settaimochi and hikizurimochi because they tie a rope from Saifukuji Temple to the neighboring Sugawara Shrine. They call it a “dance” because the pounders perform dance like ritualistic movements as they pound the rice. Each of the moves have a name. Moreover, they perform the pounding in harmony to music for several of the demonstrations, but there is also one performance when there is no song. That is the “Rokuteko” which is performed by six people.
The festival has been showcased on TV several times over the years. Supposedly it was featured yesterday, January 1st 2023, on NHK. Unfortunately, I missed the report myself.
There are several other New Year events on the same day in Kawagoe. For example, Hashigo-nori performances at Kawagoe Hachimangu and Koedo Kurari. The Kawagoe Dezome Shiki is on the same day too. Find even more events on in Saitama Prefecture here.
There is a delicious and affordable buffet lunch restaurant, Market Terrace, about a 20 minute walk from Saifukuji Temple…
Event: Saitama Prefecture Cultural Property Mochitsuki Odori (Dance) 県指定文化財 南大塚の餅つき踊り
Date: According to Jalan the event is scheduled for Sunday January 8th. However, the Kawagoe City website has not yet put up information for the 2023 event. There are several other websites reporting it as scheduled for 2023 though. But please note: they cancelled it last minute in 2022, two days before the event. They put the notification on the dedicated web page for the event on Kawagoe City website. You can still see it linked there now, as of January 2nd 2023, but nothing for this year’s event yet.
Time: the event is held from around 12.30 pm to 2.30 pm
Cost: free to spectate, but (although voluntary) it is only polite to deposit a contribution in the prayer box of the temple.
Venue: Saifukuji Temple, 〒350-1162 Saitama, Kawagoe, Minamiotsuka, 2 Chome−３−11. View on Google Maps.
About a ten minute walk from Seibu Shinjuku Line Minami-Otsuka Station. There is parking at the temple, but you won’t be able to use it on the day of the festival.
The featured photo at the top of the post was taken from the Official web page.