Jul 20
~
Jul 22

Uchiwa Fan Festival

Free

Celebrate tradition and color at the Uchiwa Festival in Kumagaya, Saitama, one of the biggest festivals in the region attracting over 750,000 visitors each year.

What happens?

From July 20 to 22, 2024, the streets of Kumagaya in Saitama will come alive with the vibrant Uchiwa Festival. This traditional event, also known as the Kumagaya Summer Festival, is a celebration of culture and community and features dynamic parades, colorful street performances, and iconic uchiwa fans.

Over three days, immerse yourself in the lively atmosphere as beautifully decorated floats are paraded through the town, accompanied by traditional music and dance performances.

History

The Uchiwa Festival, held at Yasaka Shrine in Kumagaya, has a rich history dating back to the Bunroku era (1592-). It then unified local festivals into a town-wide celebration in 1750 (during the Edo period). The festival’s name, Uchiwa, comes from the handheld fans distributed during summer events. Over time, it expanded to include mikoshi processions, floats, and food carts (yatai), showcasing Kumagaya’s community spirit and local industries.

Schedule 2024

Uchiwa festival Kumagaya Saitama
Expect a lively atmosphere. | Photo by J:COM

July 20

06:00: Transporting the mikoshi (Togyosai)

The sacred mikoshi is carried from Atago Yasaka Shrine through Yakkamachi, purifying the area before reaching a temporary shrine. Young heads of each town, dressed in white robes, parade towards the temporary shrine, with floats and festival stalls welcoming the shrine with drums along the way.

18:30: Float procession

The floats gather on Hoshikawa Street, heading for Kumagaya Station. They parade down the street in front of the station and form a line. With spirited music and the beating of drums, the towns come together symbolically.

July 21

13:00–15:30: Float procession

From 1 p.m., Route 17 becomes a pedestrian zone for the festival. The 12 towns’ floats head east, visit the temporary shrine, and then line up in a fan shape at the city hall intersection to conclude the event.

July 22

9:00–11:00: Rituals at the temporary shrine

At the temporary shrine, the head priest and officials gather, led by the chief representative in ceremonial attire, who offers prayers and presents sacred offerings, invoking divine protection as the kami’s spirit is transferred to the portable shrine.

20:00–20:30: Drum competition in the festival square

All 12 floats will gather around the festival square for one final drumming session.

20:30: Distributing nenban

The festival square is surrounded by floats and stalls, overseen by festival organizers. The outgoing and incoming designated towns take the stage. After a speech by the previous year’s chief representative, the nenbanfuda are handed over. These placards designate and identify participating groups or towns each year, and symbolize the responsibilities or roles passed from one year to the next.

From 23:30: Returning the mikoshi to the main shrine (Kangyosai)

The mikoshi is transported from the temporary shrine to the main shrine.

How to get there

Kumagaya is easily accessible from Tokyo. Take the JR Takasaki Line (1 hour and 8 minutes) or the Joetsu Shinkansen (40 minutes) to Kumagaya Station. The festival venue is a short walk from the station.

Organizers may cancel events, alter schedules, or change admission requirements without notice. Always check official sites before heading to an event.

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