Kichijoji Autumn Festival 2018 – Experience traditional Vibes of Tokyo!



Kichijoji is one of the most popular areas to live in Tokyo. In September, this cozy neighborhood offers a fantastic Autumn event – the Kichijoji Autumn Festival.

Matsuri (Festival) is a celebration for the Shinto God, and it is quite an event in the area. It is not only a festival for locals, but it also attracts people from outside. At this festival, many Kichijoji neighborhood carries eleven Mikoshi (portable shrines)  through the streets.

There are more activities such as Kid’s Mikoshi, Ennichi (food, drink and game vendors) and Musashino bayashi – an ancient Japanese music performance of Taiko drums, wooden flute, and gong.

Image courtesy of Dick Thomas Johnson

Festival Background

Kichijoji Matsuri originally started in 1933 to praise the deity of Yaeda shrine, but after World War II, Japanese society was struggling and recovering from war. In 1953 local men tried to revive the festival. Sadly, their interests waned after two or three years and plans to rebuild the festival were abandoned. During this time the Mikoshi was at Musashino Hachimangu shrine.

Years later, when local youth rediscovered the Mikoshi, they decided to bring the festival back but with better management. They established the “Musashi” festival organization in 1976, and in this year (2018) Kichijoji Matsuri celebrated its 46th anniversary.

Image courtesy of えもんさん

Festival Breakdown

On the 1st day of the festival, the “Douzasai” ceremony takes place at Musashino Hachimangu shrine. It is a sacred ceremony when the Shinto God moves from the main shrine to the portable shrine – Mikoshi.

After the ceremony, the Hachimangu priest, who rides on a sacred horse, and the “Kiyari” (group singing old labor songs) lead the Mikoshi along with “Tekomae” (hand dancers) and “Musashino bayashi.”

The ten other Mikoshi at the festival belong to local unions, and they are carried around within their neighborhoods. So, you have more chances to run into different Mikoshi by just walking around town.

The most exciting event happens on the 2nd day, around 3 o’clock. All the Mikoshi make their way to Heiwa Dori (Heiwa street) in front of Kichijoji station (North exit). Each of the groups tries to show their best performance as they approach the station.

To close the festival respectfully, the Musashino Hachimangu Mikoshi returns to the shrine, and the Shinto God sacredly moves back to his home.

If you pay close attention to the jackets (Happi) of the people carrying the Mikoshi, as well as the size and design of the Mikoshi, you can see that each has a different style. It is fun to compare them and find your favorite.

Image courtesy of Dick Thomas Johnson

Enjoy the Festival as Local

In addition to the parade, one can enjoy the food vendors, which are located at five different locations. The main Ennichi is at Musashino Hachimangu. The other locations are at Yokkaichi, Inamoricho, Kirchmann Sairei and Inokashira. It’s also a chance to explore local businesses, many of which take part in the festival.

If you want to do “Ennichi- hopping” around the five locations, you should do it on the 1st day of the festival as Inamoricho and Inokashira are closed on the 2nd day. When you are tired of the crowds and want to have a break from the Matsuri noise, you should take a walk at the Inokashira park, where you can rent a swan boat and enjoy the silence on the surface of a small lake.

Image courtesy of Dick Thomas Johnson

Details and Access

Dates: September 8th and 9th 2018. The festival usually takes place on the weekend at the beginning of September every year.
Time: 10:30~18:00
Place: Musashino Hachimangu shrine
Address: 1 Chome Kichijoji Honcho area
Official Website (Japanese only):
Ennichi: Inamori (Yodobashi Camera), Kichinanna Sairei (Suehirodori Bike Locker). Inokashira (Nakamasu Liquor Store), Yokkaichi (Musashino Citizen-Council of Social Welfare).
Access: Kichijoji station (JR Chuo line and Keio Inokashira line), Tokyo

Closing Remarks

Kichijoji Autumn Festival is one of the liveliest festivals in Tokyo. You can see how people are cherishing their historical ceremonies and preserving them for future generations. By visiting this Matsuri, you can feel Japanese spirit and touch upon old traditions.

If you would like a local guide to accompany you at this festival and tell you even more about the neighborhood and the festival, please check the banner below!

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Image courtesy of Tomomarusan

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I’m a native Japanese but have been living abroad for 16 years. I am always amazed by the beauty of my own country and love sharing it with the world!

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