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My first time at the Kawagoe Festival

The 2019 Kawagoe Festival was my first time to see it.   It happens on the third Saturday and Sunday of October.   After attending it, I realized I should have experienced it a long time ago.  It was brilliant!

crew pulling Japanese festival float on street

The main reason why I wanted to see this particular festival was for the dashi, the street floats.  They Kawagoe’s very different from the mikoshi, which I’ve seen many times at the Sanja and Sanno festivals.  Those are very small and carried upon the shoulders of bearers.  These were huge, up to ten meters high, and ornately decorated.   

people walking with Kawagoe Festival float

They looked like mountains on the move from down the street.  Huge crews in happi coats pulled them with thick ropes.  With entertainers and musicians onboard, it was an enormous spectacle.  No wonder huge crowds go.


men on traditional Japanese float

I was amazed by how the dashi were controlled.  When they stopped, the upper superstructure spun around.  Spectators could see what was going on onboard.  And when they rounded street corners!  Crews pulled with the ropes and crossbars to nudge the wheels in the right direction.  They made it look easy.

people around festival float at Kawagoe Festival

Another reason I was happy to attend this event was that I hadn’t been to a single matsuri in 2019.  The Kawagoe was my first one.  Work had been so busy that year.

men on traditional Japanese float

If there is one thing you need to be careful of with this festival, as with many others, it is very crowded.  You need to keep any young ones you take on a tight leash if you take them!  Sometimes, a crush can develop with so many people around in such a small area.  

Japanese festival floats moving along Kawagoe street

On top of that, the dashi are simple constructions.  They lack brakes or any other safety devices (so I’ve observed).  While they seem dangerous, the festival’s crowd control staff did an excellent job.

crew moving festival float around a corner

My first visit to the Kawagoe Festival was delightful.  The only disappointment was that the festivities extended into the night.  I live quite a distance away, so I couldn’t stay.    

Entertainer on dashi
festival crew moving dashi along street

For articles about other festivals in Tokyo, look at:

To see more photos of the festival, follow these links:

The Kawagoe Festival is a great event, and I highly recommend it. I can’t wait to go again. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below.

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