Information for the 62nd annual Yorii Hojo festival; reenacting a famous samurai battle.
The hugely famous Yorii Hojo Festival was actually on in 2022. But, it was a very hush hush affair with nothing publicized online in advance of the festival. On the day of the festival there was a small piece on the official Yorii town website stressing that while the festival was on that day it was on a much more reduced scale to normal. They even had a food event and there was also a children’s corner on the day. The locals got to enjoy the festival, without the thousands of people who normally descend on Yorii for this very special event!
Yorii Hojo Festival
The festival is celebrated each year in remembrance of the great Hojo battle of 1590. For years the festival was on in April and you could enjoy cherry blossoms too. As if the scene of thousands of Sengoku period samurai sword fighting wasn’t enough! The schedule changed first in 2020 due to the Olympics and then due to the pandemic. It didn’t go ahead at all in 2021. And while a smaller version of it was on in 2022, it was on in October. This year, it is scheduled for May, which maybe the new date going forward.
Approximately 50,000 spectators come to see the recreation of the famous battle with about 500 actors in Samurai traditional costume. In 2022, there were only 300 actors due to the pandemic. The battle is renowned, because General Hojo held position at Hachigata Castle with just 3,500 warriors against 50,000 of the Toyotomi army who invaded Odawara in 1590. The festival takes part on the remains of the castle grounds, the city area (around the station) and the piece de resistance – the battle – takes place on the banks of the Arakawa on what is known as the Tamayodo Riverbed.
In addition, there is also a small food festival held simultaneously on the day. There are about ten festival food stalls. In addition, there is a Yorii information booth. Furthermore, there are also events for children in the “yoriba kids area” where children can try some traditional Japanese games. For example, bamboo slicing and archery.
Please note, the festival doesn’t go ahead in bad weather, such as rain or high winds.
Event: Yorii Hojo (Hojyo) Festival 第６２回寄居北條まつり
Date: Sunday May 21st 2023
Time: from around 11 am
Cost: free to enter the festival area
Venue: there are three main areas – near the station, Tamayodo riverbed on the banks of the Arakawa, and Hachigata Castle park. The latter is the furthest from the station: 2692-2 Hachigata, Yorii, Osato District, Saitama 369-1224. View on Google maps.
The festival stretches from the ‘city area’ to Hachigata Castle park. The city area is only 5 minutes on foot from JR Hachiko Line, Tobu Tojo Line, Chichibu Railway’s Yorii Station. The Tamayodo riverbank area (along the Arakawa) is another five minutes from there. And finally, Hachigata Castle Park is another ten minutes (or 20 minutes if you are going direct from the station). By car, the park is about a 15 minute drive from the Hanazono Interchange of the Kan’estu expressway. Please note, the area gets very congested every weekend, but particularly during the period of the festival.
Other attractions in Yorii
**Featured image at top of article from Saitama Prefecture’s old tourism website which unfortunately has been replaced**