This is really late, but on October 15th I went on a field trip with other JSP participants to the Kawagoe Matsuri. This event was planned by the study abroad office so we got to experience things that normal attendees would not be able to do. We were able to sit in the special seating area for the opening while wearing happi coats. After the festival started then we also got to help “pull” the floats down the street. I say “pull” because we weren’t actually pulling it, we just had to hold onto the rope as some other people did all of the hard work.
For those of you that enjoy reading about history, please check out the Kawagoe Matsuri website: here. As a summary, the Kawagoe Matsuri is held in the area of Kawagoe known as Koedo or “little Edo.” Edo was the previous capitol of Japan before it was changed to Tokyo. This festival is held every year for two days during the weekend of the third Saturday of October. The main attractions are the festival floats that are pulled through the streets continuously along side the endless yatai booths or food stands.
The man pictured who is holding the fan over his head on the right was one of the highlights of this experience for me. He kept shouting at us to hold into the rope tightly and to do the chants/cheers loudly along with everyone else. Most of the JSP students were just trying to take pictures and selfies while “pulling” the float so he kept shouting for us to hold onto the ropes with two hands. He wasn’t serious though so it was pretty fun.
This event was also fun because I ended up walking around with my friend who is one of the PAs or student assistants for the JSPs. We tried to take a picture of our clothes in the same way that I’ve seen a lot of Japanese people post it with the tag #ko-de for “outfit coordinate” or something like that.
Once we broke off from the group we first headed off to get something to eat. I got this thing that was like meatballs on a stick and it was so good. My friend got the same plus yakitori. One of the best parts about festivals really is just wandering around and eating all of the food while spending time with friends 🙂
The streets were so crowded at the points where the festival floats were that you couldn’t really choose what direction to walk in and you just had to go along with wherever the crowd was pushing you. It was definitely stressful for a person like me who hates crowds but it was all part of the experience I suppose.
After my friend and I walked around for a bit we decided to look for real food and settled for this Hiroshima style okonomiyaki that has yakisoba. After buying our food we grabbed drinks from a vending machine and then sat on a street curb to eat. Sitting on the ground and eating is really not something you would do normally in Japan, so it was nice to take a break from that.
After we ate we started to head back to the train station. On the way back we actually ran into my host dad who was staffing a booth for the company that he works for. The booth was selling or promoting their company books since he works for a publishing company. It was kind of a surprise but it was good that my friend could talk to him in Japanese. After that we continued to the train station and that was it for my Kawagoe Matsuri experience.
I highly recommend that if you are in Japan during this time you should come and check this festival out. It gets insanely crowded but there are a few places where you can stand off to the side if you need to get a little bit of space and air. Kawagoe is only about 40 minutes away from Ikebukuro using the Tobu-Tojo Line and the actual festival area is very close to Kawagoe station so it is not too hard to find.
On a separate note, I would just like to apologize for the unreadability of this article! I seemed to have taken too long of a break from writing and I just couldn’t get the right flow. I hope that it wasn’t too difficult to read and that you found something somewhat interesting. Now I have even more motivation to get back to writing posts more frequently.
Thank you so much and hope you have a great day!