The Kawagoe matsuri is one of the biggest festivals I have attended in Japan. Literally thousands of people visit Kawagoe to take part in this festival, so prepare to face huge crowds. It is held every third weekend of October. Huge beautifully detailed floats or “dashi” are paraded all over town pulled by the townspeople. The dashi consists of three levels. The lower level is where masked dancers perform along with other performers. Various food stalls are also found all over town offering traditional Japanese snacks such as okonomiyaki, takoyaki, yakisoba, ichigo ame, ramen burger, among others.
The mood becomes different at night when the lanterns and floats are lit. When two floats meet, a “Hikkawase” dance battle between the two takes place. Attending the Kawagoe festival definitely gives you a taste of Japanese culture, and it is not so far from Tokyo!
ACCESS: Kawagoe takes about 30 minutes from Ikebukuro via the Tobu Tojo Line. From the station, the main area of the festival takes place in the Warehouse district (Kurazukuri), around 15 to 20 minutes walk from Kawagoe station.