when and where to see fall foliage (Japanese version only):

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Night Festival of Chichibu

Kamimachi yatai

photo by:seiko sai(

The Night Festival of Chichibu(秩父夜祭, Chichibu Yomatsuri) is held in Chichibu, Saitama Prefecture on December 2nd and 3rd every year.
One of my old friends who lived in Saitama Prefecture highly recommended watching this festival. I was not inclined to go and see the festival because of coldness.

Kamimachi yatai
 The festival dates back some 300 years.  It is said these floats came to be drawn as an entertainment at the annual festival of Chichibu Jinja Shrine (秩父神社). The festival was held on the 3rd day of the 11th month in the lunar calendar in the Edo Period. A silk fair took place at the festival because silk cultivation prospered and silk textiles were produced in Chichibu area.  As the fair flourished, the festival developed.
The festival has been designated as an important national cultural asset.

Nakachika kasaboko
 Four Yatai floats are drawn through the city streets from noon on the 2nd. The Yatai floats and two Kasaboko floats are drawn through the city streets from 9 a.m. on the 3rd.

Sambaso at Miyaji yatai
 Four Yatai floats stop at several spots and perform traditional dances during the parade. Miyaji(宮地)  Yatai shows a dance performance for celebratory events called Sanbaso(三番叟).

3 photos by 日本列島お国自慢

On the evening of the 3rd, the procession including mikoshi(portable shrine) and two horses starts from the shrine at around 6:30 p.m and arrives at the Otabisho(御旅所) at around 8 p.m. Otabisho is a rest house for the god or place where the sacred palanquin is lodged during a festival. Yatai and Kasaboko floats start from the shrine at around 7 p.m and arrive at the Otabisho at aorund 10 p.m.
The climax comes when people pull up the floats on a steep slope called Dango-zaka(団子坂) just before the Otabisho.
Fireworks are set off at night on both days.

Kamimachi yatai at around 2 a.m. on the 4th

All of the flaots are pulled down on the slope at around midnight on the 4th after the ritual is held at the Otabisho. The floats return to their storages. The procession returns to the shrine.

photo by:seiko sai(

The floats have stages. One of them performs a traditional Chichibu Kabuki play on the stage at 6 p.m. on the 2nd and at 11 a.m. on the 3rd.

A sleety rain fell in Chichibu yesterday. Vinyl-covered floats were drawn. Nakamachi(中町) float performed a kabuki play in the evening and fireworks exploded in the night sky. Nakamachi and Kamimachi(上町) floats visited the Chichibu Shrine.

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