Experience One of Japan's Most Dynamic Festivals
A UNESCO-recognized celebration of float performances, music, and dance awaits in historic Kawagoe
In the Little Edo district of Kawagoe City, just north of Tokyo, you'll find a festival that's sure to leave an impression. With a history of more than 370 years and featuring rousing performances starring massive floats, it's no wonder why it was chosen by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage.
Rooted in the autumn festival of the Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine, the celebration's main feature is the so-called hikkawase. Marvel as the lavish floats—as tall as nine meters and weighing up to 3.4 tons, with many crafted as early as the Edo period (1603–1867)—are pulled through town. When the floats meet, they face off in performances, with Japanese flutists, drum players, and dancers battling in song and dance.
The town of Kawagoe itself adds to the atmosphere, with a traditional Edo-style townscape lined with kurazukuri, distinctive, two-story, tile-roofed merchant storehouse buildings. Though the festival is truly a can't-miss event, it's worth a visit at any time of the year for the sights and the tasty Japanese sweets for which the area is famous.
Access: From Tokyo Station, take the Marunouchi subway line to Ikebukuro Station (about 20 minutes), then take the Tobu-Tojo Line limited express train to Kawagoe Station (about 30 minutes).
Kawagoe Festival (Kawagoe Festival Support Association)