Chichibu Yomatsuri 2013, Largest Float Festivals in Japan
Chichibu Yomatsuri, Japanese words for Chichibu’s Night Festival, is one of the three largest float festivals in Japan held for two days in December every year. The festival begins on December 3rd in the evening and lasts on the night of December 4th in Chichibu shrines, Chichibu city in Saitama Prefecture. Japanese people celebrate Chichibu Yomatsuri to respect 6 kamis (deities) guarded the town, so during the celebration of the festival, 6 floats representing the 6 deities are made and decorated with carvings, flowers, and hundreds lantern before lifted around the shrine.
When is Chichibu Yomatsuri 2013?
Chichibu Yomatsuri 2013 will start from Monday, 2 December 2013 until Tuesday, 3 December 2013.
Attraction and Tradition
The major attraction in Chichibu Yomatsuri is taken place on December 4th in the evening, about 7pm, when the 6 large floats are taken from the shrine and lifted around the streets by the citizens of the city, especially young men. This attraction is appealing, yet dangerous seeing that the floats have approximately 10 meters height and 10 tons weight. Some traditional Japanese musical instruments including drums and flutes accompany the procession of lifting the floats while the spectators and the lifters shout “Ho-ryai, Ho-ryai” as the encouraged words.
Besides the lifted-shrines, the other attractions such as children’s kabuki, fireworks display, and food and souvenirs stalls are available in Chichibu Yomatsuri. Because Chichibu Yomatsuri is one of the biggest float festival in Japan besides Gion Matsuri and Takayama Matsuri, it is always full of spectators from the other cities of Japan and from the other countries as well. Despite the chill weather of Chichibu city during December, visitors of this festival feel the joy and happiness atmosphere scattered around the festival.
The history of Chichibu Yomatsuri started 300 years ago, when villagers believe that 6 deities were guarding the city of Chichibu and presenting the villagers with good health, good weather, and good harvests. In order to honor these 6 deities, local villagers built 6 large mikoshi or floats – each of them representing one deity – outside Chichibu shrine. They also decorated all of the floats with carvings and flowers as well as brighten them with many lanterns as the villagers expected to receive nice weather and good health from the deities along the year.
As one of three greatest float festivals in Japan, Chichibu Yomatsuri is celebrated gloriously by the Japanese people in Chichibu city. They don’t mind spending much money to build the enormous mikoshi or spending extra energy to lift them up along the street as long as the spectators including the villagers themselves are able to experience the splendor of the festival.