Besides the Rugby World Cup 2019 matches, lush nature and thousand-year-old history, we can also enjoy many cultural events (or matsuri in Japanese) in Saitama Prefecture as well. Every festival has its own form, and no matter how big or small, each matsuri can be a lot of fun for not only viewing the performances, but for also sampling the food stands to experience local foods and sake.
Kumagaya Uchiwa Matsuri is held for three days in July and is considered to be the best Gion Matsuri in the Kanto region. The name translates to the “Kumagaya Fan Festival”, as the custom with which fans were distributed is the origin of the festival. Twelve magnificently decorated floats (Dashi) parade around the city for your spectacle. Besides the parade, there are also many street vendors, known as Yatai, selling tasty foods and drinks.
Every year on the 3rd Saturday and Sunday of October it’s time for the exciting Kawagoe Festival! Known as one of the biggest festivals in the Kanto region, the Kawagoe festival has a history stretching back 300 years. The highlight is called “hikkawase,” which is the traditional battle of festival music. From their floats, each group battles through the music of flutes and drums. The Rugby World Cup 2019 matches are on at just the right time to see this festival, so we can see why it is designated a “National Important Intangible Folk Cultural Property” of Japan!
Just 90 minutes away from Tokyo, Chichibu Night Festival is held on the night of December 2nd and 3rd each year. It is considered one of Japan’s top three festivals (matsuri) that feature floats (hikiyama), alongside Gion Matsuri in Kyoto, and Takayama Matsuri in Gifu. The large-scale floats are certainly most fascinating during the festival alongside the fireworks, but you can also check out the festival’s floats anytime at the Chichibu Festival Exhibition Hall.
Saitama Prefecture is world famous for its Bonsai plants. Bonsai is a form of traditional Japanese art and culture where a tree is planted in a pot, and then meticulously groomed to the artists vision. The culture of Bonsai is to appreciate the shape of these branches, leaves and the trunk line. The art has history dating back to the ninth century. When you visit Kumagaya for the matches, be sure to see the Bonsai, as it is a wonderful place, perhaps the place, to see this great artwork and technique unique to Japan.
With the largest bonsai village in Japan, and a sacred place for Bonsai, Omiya invites many Bonsai enthusiasts from all over the world. At the Omiya Bonsai Village visitors can enjoy the atmosphere of all seasons to see many forms of bonsai. The ceramics that the trees are place in are also an artform themselves, so be sure to look closely at not only the tree, but the ceramics too.