About / History

About / History
Held for two days on the 3rd Saturday and Sunday of October,
the Kawagoe Festival is Koedo-Kawagoe's liveliest event of the year.
Famed for its Kurazukuri (traditional architecture) zone, this city is one of the Kanto Region's foremost sightseeing spots,
and it attracts large numbers of visitors each year.
Held for two days on the 3rd Saturday and Sunday of October,
the Kawagoe Festival is Koedo-Kawagoe's liveliest event of the year.
 Famed for its Kurazukuri (traditional architecture) zone, this city is one of the Kanto Region's foremost sightseeing spots, and it attracts large numbers of visitors each year.

 A musical battle between spectacular festival floats


The Kawagoe Festival's strongest feature is the festival float event which reproduces the ’Edo Tenka Matsuri’ festival.
Spectacular festival floats carrying exquisitely crafted dolls are pulled around the center of Koedo-Kawagoe’s landmark Kurazukuri (traditional architecture) Zone.
Spectators will be overwhelmed by the sheer scale of the many festival floats as they pass by each other when meeting at an intersection.
The main event - ‘Hikkawase’


The Kawagoe Festival’s biggest highlight: ‘Hikkawase’
As they face each other, the several festival floats compete with each other in a hayashi performance (a traditional Japanese orchestra comprised of flutes, drums, handbells and dancing), cheered on by the excited voices of festival-goers holding aloft paper lanterns.
The excitement reaches its climax with the evening ‘Hikkawase’.

A musical battle between spectacular festival floats


The Kawagoe Festival's strongest feature is the festival float event which reproduces the ’Edo Tenka Matsuri’ festival.
Spectacular festival floats carrying exquisitely crafted dolls are pulled around the center of Koedo-Kawagoe’s landmark Kurazukuri (traditional architecture) Zone.
Spectators will be overwhelmed by the sheer scale of the many festival floats as they pass by each other when meeting at an intersection.

The main event - ‘Hikkawase’


he Kawagoe Festival’s biggest highlight: ‘Hikkawase’
As they face each other, the several festival floats compete with each other in a hayashi performance (a traditional Japanese orchestra comprised of flutes, drums, handbells and dancing), cheered on by the excited voices of festival-goers holding aloft paper lanterns.
The excitement reaches its climax with the evening ‘Hikkawase’.

National Important Intangible Folk Cultural Property National Important Intangible
Folk Cultural Property
The Kawagoe Festival has developed both by maintaining a history of over 370 years as an invaluable town festival that preserves the style and elegance of the Edo "Tenka Matsuri", as well as by adding its own unique Kawagoe features.

In 2005, the festival was designated as a National Important Intangible Folk Cultural Property under the title of ‘Kawagoe Hikawa Festival Float Event’

In 2016 it was registered as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage under the title of ‘Kawagoe Hikawa Festival Float Event.


The origin of the festival dates back to the first year of the Keian Period (1648) with the promotion
of the Chinju-Hikawa Festival by the Kawagoe Castle lord.
 ‘The Pinnacle of Town Festivals’, this over 370-year-old event preserves the style of the Edo "Tenka Matsuri" festival
The origin of the festival dates back to the first year of the Keian Period (1648) with the promotion of the Chinju-Hikawa Festival by the Kawagoe Castle lord.

‘The Pinnacle of Town Festivals’,
this over 370-year-old event
preserves the style of the Edo "Tenka Matsuri" festival
 Kawagoe Festival (Kawagoe Hikawa Festival Float Event) takes root in the "Reitaisai" festival held at Hikawa Shrine on October 14,
and is also consisted of the "Jinkosai" festival and "Float Event (festival)" that are held immediately afterward.
 Kawagoe Festival (Kawagoe Hikawa Festival Float Event) takes root in the "Reitaisai" festival held at Hikawa Shrine on October 14, and is also consisted of the "Jinkosai" festival and "Float Event (festival)" that are held immediately afterward.
例大祭
Reitaisai
神幸祭
Jinkosai
山車行事
Float Event
例大祭
Reitaisai

神幸祭
Jinkosai

山車行事
Float Event

The "Jinkosai" festival started life in 1648, when it was promoted by the reigning Kawagoe clan lord Nobutsuna Matsudaira Izunokami, who offered religious artifacts such as a portable shrine,
a lion mask and taiko drums to the Hikawa Shrine. From 1651 onward, extravagant processions passed through the neighborhoods of shrine parishes,
and these were soon joined by members of the commercial elite. It is in these rituals and festivals that the Kawagoe Festival takes root.
The "Jinkosai" festival started life in 1648, when it was promoted by the reigning Kawagoe clan lord Nobutsuna Matsudaira Izunokami, who offered religious artifacts such as a portable shrine, a lion mask and taiko drums to the Hikawa Shrine. From 1651 onward, extravagant processions passed through the neighborhoods of shrine parishes, and these were soon joined by members of the commercial elite. It is in these rituals and festivals that the Kawagoe Festival takes root.

In the original "Jinkosai" festival, the portable shrine of Hikawa Shrine was carried through the neighborhoods of shrine parishioners, and was accompanied by adornments of floats including costume parades provided by 10 neighborhoods of shrine parishes.

In 1698, one of the 10 neighborhoods, Takazawa-cho, having learned from the Edo festival, displayed the first dancing stage. The dancing stage was the centerpiece of the Edo festival in this period.

絵巻

From Kawagoe-hikawa-sairei-emaki (1826)
絵巻 From Kawagoe-hikawa-sairei-emaki (1826)



Development of the Kawagoe Festival through the link to
Edo: boat transport on the Shingashigawa River
新河岸川舟運の様子
Shingashigawa River Boat Transport

Boat transport on the Shingashigawa River allowed Kawagoe not only to receive the latest fineries and customs that came in from Edo, but also gradually developed the festival.
The present festival ceremonies and customs are said to take root in the arrangements of the Bunka and Bunsei Periods.
Unification of the festival floats of the
10 neighborhoods in 1844
氷川祭礼絵額
Hikawa-sairei-egaku (1844)

Later on, with the advent of festival floats taking the central role in the Edo Festivals, all the festival floats of the 10 neighborhoods were in 1844 unified in a single-column style and dolls were placed on the balustrades, as they are depicted in Hikawa-sairei-egaku (a votive picture scroll).

Development of the Kawagoe Festival through the link to Edo:
boat transport on the Shingashigawa River
新河岸川舟運の様子
Shingashigawa River Boat Transport

Boat transport on the Shingashigawa River allowed Kawagoe not only to receive the latest fineries and customs that came in from Edo, but also gradually developed the festival.

The present festival ceremonies and customs are said to take root in the arrangements of the Bunka and Bunsei Periods.

Unification of the festival floats of the 10 neighborhoods in 1844
氷川祭礼絵額
Hikawa-sairei-egaku (1844)

Later on, with the advent of festival floats taking the central role in the Edo Festivals, all the festival floats of the 10 neighborhoods were in 1844 unified in a single-column style and dolls were placed on the balustrades, as they are depicted in Hikawa-sairei-egaku (a votive picture scroll).

The Kawagoe Festival has been passed down in an unbroken line, and in February 2005, as an invaluable town festival that preserves the style and elegance of the Edo Tenka Festival, the Kawagoe Hikawa Festival Float Event’ was designated as a National Important Intangible Folk Cultural Property .

Under the divine protection of the Grand Hikawa Shrine, the people of Kawagoe that had brought this castle town to prosperity have proudly developed the Kawagoe Festival by using this economic strength both to maintain a history of over 370 years, as well as add its own unique Kawagoe features.
The Kawagoe Festival has been passed down in an unbroken line, and in February 2005, as an invaluable town festival that preserves the style and elegance of the Edo Tenka Festival, the Kawagoe Hikawa Festival Float Event’ was designated as a National Important Intangible Folk Cultural Property .

Under the divine protection of the Grand Hikawa Shrine, the people of Kawagoe that had brought this castle town to prosperity have proudly developed the Kawagoe Festival by using this economic strength both to maintain a history of over 370 years, as well as add its own unique Kawagoe features.