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Chichibu Night Festival - the magnificent beauty of culture and light

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Chichibu Night Festival - the magnificent beauty of culture and light

The fusion of sparkling traditional space and the massive scale of the Chichibu Night Festival promises to bring unforgettable memories to visitors.

Duong Thuy Nguyen

Duong Thuy Nguyen

Published on 11 Dec 2021, 12:00

One of the unique traits that founded Japan's unique and identity-rich traditional culture might be the age-old conventional festivals. When mentioning the "big three" festival in the Land of the Rising Sun, besides the Gion Festival in Kyoto and the Takayama Festival in Gifu, the Chichibu Night Festival in Saitama holds its own impression on the splendid night scenery, and the cultural story lies beneath.

Origin of the Chichibu Matsuri Night Festival

Originated over 300 years ago, Chichibu is a critical cultural heritage of the nation and was recognized as an intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO in 2016. It is the only one of the "big three" procession festivals whose main event is held in the evening with fantastic firework displays last for hours.

The festival was initially held by the Chichibu city locals at the temple of the same name with a not-so-large scale to express their gratitude towards the gods for protecting the land. In addition, the festival is held at the end of the year to wrap up the passing year and welcome the bright new coming one.
The Chichibu Night Festival is the ancient traditional beauty of the Japanese
The Chichibu Night Festival is the ancient traditional beauty of the Japanese

My Chichibu Night Festival itinerary

As I love to explore Japan's culture and traditional values, I decided to ask my friend to attend the Chichibu Festival together.

As a rare festival held in the freezing winter, Chichibu Matsuri annually takes place on December 2nd and 3rd. However, I chose the 3rd because it was the main event and there were more unique activities. Let's go and explore with me!

To get the best standing spot to enjoy the festival instead of crowding into the area, I booked the early train from Tokyo at around 5PM, and it took me only under 1 hour 45 minutes to get to Chichibu.

I know that the night festival Chichibu stood out for its radiance and extravagance. However, when I saw it with my own eyes, I could only say wow about the grandeur and decorativeness of the festival.

From around 6.30 to 7pm when dusk had fallen, the festival started with the miracle of power procession. Six palanquins placed at 6 districts of Chichibu City would start processing along the streets before finishing at the city hall at around 7pm.

Each palanquin, weighing around 12-20 tons, one after another entered the squared, with exquisite carvings on gilded woods, showing off the top-notch craftsmanship. Moreover, they were also attached with thousands of enlightened lanterns and embroidered cloths.

The extravagant beauty of the grand palanquins in the main event
The extravagant beauty of the grand palanquins in the main event

The atmosphere became more energetic and enliven than ever as the heat of the thousand-people crowd rushed to the streets to attend the festival, along with the rhythms of Taiko drums and flutes, creating an unforgettable sight.

The festival's highlight that I couldn't miss was the most anticipated event of the night - the firework display that lasted 2.5 hours.

It was as though the sky was enlightened with non-stop vibrant fireworks
It was as though the sky was enlightened with non-stop vibrant fireworks

Each firework in all shapes and sizes appearing in the night sky made the festival even more vibrant and bustle. The sound of the fireworks was like the ringing bell signaling the end of an old year for the locals.

Each emotion was like a surge. I gave a moment to reflect on myself for the past year, what I had done, what I would do in the following year.

In the bustling festival and sparkling scenery, my company and I were also attracted by the signature warm food that blew away the cold of the winter night. You could find many stalls that sold hot fried dishes and amazake (sweet wine) along the streets.

Enjoying the lively kabuki performance and the splendid firework display while sipping the sweetness of rice wine, what could be better than this?

Chichibu Night Festival - the magnificent beauty of culture and light

If you love Japan and the beauty of the local traditional culture, you must not miss the Chichibu Night Festival - where the traditional values that are preserved for hundred years meet and join.

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Duong Thuy Nguyen

Duong Thuy Nguyen

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