Chichibu Shrine itself has over 2,000 years of history. This is a great opportunity to catch an enchanting traditional festival.
The large floats, apparently weighing up to 20 tons each, are festooned with countless lanterns and decorated with flowers and spears. Also, this is a rare opportunity to see fireworks in the winter. There will be a pre-festival the night before, with more processions on the main day — so if you’re staying in the area be sure to head down to the shrine.
The Yomatsuri (Night Festival) will happen on December 2 and the Grand Festival (the bigger festival of the two) will happen on December 3.
- Saturday, Dec. 2 (Yomatsuri): Starting from around midday, floats will be paraded around the streets until around 4 p.m. Then, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., the floats will once again perform. A smaller fireworks display will take place from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.
- Sunday, Dec. 3 (Grand Festival): Starting from 9 a.m., there will be floats performing music and dance. This will continue most of the day, but the peak will be from 7 p.m. to around 10 p.m. Fireworks will be launched from Hitsujiyama Park starting from 7:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.
So far, only the horseback archery has been canceled.
How to get there
Chichibu is about 2 hours from Tokyo, so keep an eye on trains so you can get back in time. The festival is within walking distance of Chichibu Station, Ohanabata Station, and Seibu Chichibu Station. You can get from Ikebukuro Station to Seibu Chichibu Station in 1 hour and 20 minutes on the limited express train.Organizers may cancel events, alter schedules, or change admission requirements without notice. Always check official sites before heading to an event.