Sightseeing in Saitama: The Kawagoe Festival (川越祭り) - Vikingess Voyages

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Sightseeing in Saitama: The Kawagoe Festival (川越祭り)

The parade featuring Kawagoe's Time Bell Tower in the background
Kawagoe city in Saitama prefecture is a good alternative if you're looking for an historical place to visit for a day trip from Tokyo.
The city is known under the nickname "Little Edo" (小江戸 Koedo) and has even been referred to by CNN as the 'most Japanese' destination of all. The reason for the nickname is the influence that came through the financial and cultural ties the city held to the Japanese capital Edo (the former name for Tokyo) back in the 17th to 19th centuries and the architecture left from this period.

Kawagoe crowded with visitors trying to get a look at one of the festival floaters.
Kawagoe still has a lot of traditional buildings that have survived from the Edo period, a period during which the city was used for supplying commodities to Edo. Because of the city's importance the Kawagoe Castle was used as a residence for some of the shogun's most loyal men, who also gained the title of Lord. This helped ensuring a close bond between Kawagoe and Edo during the rule of the shogun.
There are various cultural events held in Kawagoe throughout the year such as the Koedo Kawagoe Spring Festival and the Kawagoe Million Lights Summer Festival. In October the city hosts its annual two-day long Kawagoe Matsuri during the third weekend of the month. This festival is known as Kawagoe's liveliest event and attracts more than 800,000 visitors every year.
A close-up of one of the floaters

The festival has a history that stretches more than 350 years back in time when it was established by head of the Kawagoe Clan, Nobutsuna Mastudaira Izunokami. It still preserves the style and elegance of the past, and the festival has even been recognized as a National Important Intangible Folk Cultural Property.
From the Kurazukuri area of Kawagoe
Part of the parade takes place in an area known as Kurazukuri (倉造り), the Warehouse District. During the Edo-period a lot of merchant grew wealthy through their tradings with Edo, and were able to build both their warehouses and stores in the Kurazukuri style. Some of these buildings still remain intact, with the oldest building dating back to 1792.
The Time Bell Tower (時の鐘)
One of the most distinguished landmarks of Kawagoe is the Time Bell Tower (時の鐘, Toki no Kane). It is an exact replica of the original tower built between 1624 and 1644, and today it serves as a symbol of Kawagoe. In the pictures below you can see parts of the Kawagoe Festival parade with the Time Bell Tower in the background.
A festival float and the Time Bell Tower.
The highlight of the Kawagoe Festival is the so-called Hikkawase (曳っかわせ), where the festival floats compete through a performance using flutes, drums, handbells and dancing. The Hikkawase reaches its climax in the evening, but this time we only had the chance to visit Kawagoe during the afternoon (I guess that's a nice excuse for me to go back to Kawagoe next year to experience this part of the festival as well).

Basic Info

Name of event The Kawagoe Festival (川越祭り)
When Held annually the third weekend of October
Location Kawagoe, Saitama Prefecture (埼玉県川越市)
Access Kawagoe is situated approximately 30 minutes away from Ikebukuro by train. You can take the Tobu Tojo Line and the train will take you directly to Kawagoe Station for only 470 yen one way. The map displays the location of the Time Bell Tower (Toki no Kane).
Admission fee Free

Related blogposts

Recommended Hotels in Saitama

Ranzan Keikoku Onsen Health Center Heiseirou
Onsen Health Center Heiseirou
Nagatoro Choseikan Ryokan
Nagatoro Choseikan Ryokan
Wadoh Ryokan
Kawagoe Prince Hotel
Kawagoe Prince Hotel

Thank you for reading! Please feel free to leave any comments or questions below
Author Image

About Anette
Anette came to Japan as an exchange student in 2010, met the love of her life and got stuck. From her base in Tokyo she writes about her experiences as a full-time worker in Tokyo and about her travels in Japan and abroad. She's a free-spirited adventurer who enjoys both the great outdoors and her urban lifestyle.

  • 0Disqus Comment
  • Facebook Comment

Leave your comment

Post a Comment

comments powered by Disqus

About Me

Adventures ofAnette

A modern day shield-maiden who loves to explore the unbeaten paths of the world. From her base in Tokyo, Anette takes on both rural and urban challenges, and goes by the motto "No challenge too big, no adventure too small"!
・Read more →

Recent Posts


Random Posts