【Festivals】Chichibu Night Festival 2018, December 2nd & 3rd (Chichibu City, Saitama Prefecture)
English Version : Judy Evans
One of Japan’s big three float festivals and the only one held in winter.
A UNESCO Intangible Cultural Property
The Chichibu Yomatsuri (Chichibu Night Festival), held annually by the Chichibu Shrine, is one of Japan’s top three float festivals, along with Kyoto’s Gion Festival and the Hida-Takayama Festival. The festival boasts at least 300 years of history and is registered as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Property.
Six majestic floats, including two ornate kasaboko (tall narrow floats with an umbrella-like canopy) and four massive multi-tiered yatai floats, will parade to the accompaniment of traditional orchestral music. Highlights are the yatai-shibai plays and yataihiki-odori dances performed on stages on board the yatai. Another feature of the festival is the exciting and dynamic Chichibu Yabusame horseback archery.
The pinnacle of the event comes at night with the thrill of seeing the parading floats brightly illuminated by hundreds of colourful paper lanterns, while fireworks light up the night sky. In all, around 300,000 spectators are expected to make the trip to Chichibu to see Japan’s most famous winter float festival.
Photos courtesy of Chichibu Tourism Association
Dates: Sunday, December 2nd and Monday, December 3rd.
Venue: Chichibu Shrine and surrounds, Chichibu City, Saitama Prefecture
Judy Evans is a high school teacher of English and Japanese, and a Japanese-English translator. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Japanese and Art History and has studied production horticulture and landscape design. Judy has a keen interest in the internet environment and has administered websites for a number of organisations. She lives on a small farm in rural New Zealand and is a frequent visitor to Japan.