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Serada Gion Festival – One of the Tree Biggest Matsuri in Kanto Region!

Susan

Writer

Image courtesy of ググっとぐんま

 

Serada Gion Festival in Gunma, Kanda Myojin Festival in Tokyo, and Chichibu Yomatsuri in Saitama have been called “The three biggest festivals of Kanto region”. Festival ranking list of the Edo period shows that this festival ranks at third place among Eastern Japan summer festivals. Of course, people in Gunma have been proud of its biggest festival in the prefecture.

Gion Festivals have been taking place as festivals of Yasaka Shrines, where soldiers pray for health, security, and prosperity. These kinds of festivals have been taking place since 1565 what we call “Sengoku-Jidai” – (battle period). In this article, I`m going to introduce you attractive points of Serada Gion and tell you how to enjoy this festival.


Image courtesy of ググっとぐんま

Hikichigai- a Parade of Floats

The most exciting moment of this festival is when “Hikichigai” starts. Eight parade floats gathering at Serada Crossroad, Sojji Shrine and Humon Shrine wait for the bell to ring. The sound is announcing the start of “Hissagari”, and the floats start running to Shimocho.

When all of them get together at Shimocho, they get ready for “Onobori” (upward) to go back to Serada Crossroad. This moment is actually when “Hikichigai” happens. When two parade floats waiting at Shimocho and Shimoshinden respectively and the other six pass by one another, they start to play drums and beat the bells hard in order to show how strong they are. The sound of flutes echoes through the sky, lanterns on the creaking parade floats shake intensely along the way, parade floats shake, and the excitement of the crowd reaches its peak!

Let’s Make Some Noise at Ohayashi Performance!

Eight parade floats come together at Serada crossroad, going towards the place where it is said that the gods get together. Then, they turn their musical instruments to the center and start their Ohayashi Performance all together. Each parade float competes in playing common Ohayashi music to become the best Ohayashi performer. Their sound, rhythm, and the way they beat the drums surely make the audience fascinated and is full of excitement. After the stimulating performance, each parade float starts returning to its original area.

Image courtesy of ググっとぐんま

Inkyo Sama Mikoshi is Finally Back!

What happens at the last night of the festival is that Inkyo Sama Mikoshi – a portable shrine for retired god is finally coming back to Yasaka Shrine. At around nine o’clock in the evening, carriers who have purified at Yasaka shrine set off to pick up Inkyo Sama Mikoshi at a place called “Okariya” securely. People start carrying Mikoshi towards Yasaka Shrine, being splashed with water and cheered with shouts “Wasshoi, Wasshoi!”. Being shoved by the crowd, it finally heads for Yasaka shrine vigorously. On the way, when it passes the front of parade floats, they play cheerfully to express the feeling of happiness. When it finally gets to Yasaka shrine, again it gets splashed and shoved, sometimes almost falls from carriers. At the same time, such a scene makes the audience very excited and in the end, they rest Mikoshi on a pedestal.

About the Festival Floats

Since the Edo period, Serada city had eight towns. Each town has a different festival float. Its main part is made of cedar, wheels are made of keyaki (Japanese zelkova), and the ornament is made of pine trees creating gorgeous sculptures and decorations. The oldest float of Shincho Ward was made in 1821, and others have got damaged, unfortunately. Therefore, Ota city decided for the first time since they were made to repair the floats, spending almost four years from 2006 to 2009. Now they are designated as an Important Tangible Folk Cultural Properties.

Image courtesy of ググっとぐんま

Details and Access

Dates: Usually takes place on one of the final weekends of July every year (July 28th, 29th, 2018). Please refer to the official website to check the dates closer to July.

Place: Serada crossroads, Yasaka Shrine

Address: 1497 Seradacho, Ota, Gunma Prefecture

Official website (Japanese only): http://seradagion.jp/ 

Access: ten minutes on foot from Serada Station on Tobu Isesaki Line

Closing Remarks

As you can notice, the highlight of this festival is parade floats and Mikoshi! Why don’t you feel the atmosphere of excitement and feel the water splashes close to Mikoshi?

If you would like to see this gorgeous festival and explore Gunma prefecture together with a friendly local guide, please check the banner below!

The Real Kyoto Gion Festival

I hope you enjoyed reading this article. Of course, this Gion Festival is a great event to watch and participate, and you should do it when you have a chance! Though the original festival with much bigger floats takes place every year in Kyoto in July. I am sure you will enjoy one of the most popular Gion festivals in Japan! For more information about Kyoto`s Gion Matsuri click on the link below!

URL: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/982/

What is Mikoshi?

If you were ever wondering about Japanese festivals, you probably came across Mikoshi. Mikoshi is an essential part of any Japanese, religious matsuri, and it is hard to even imagine a traditional festival scene without it. If you would like to know more about Japanese traditional festival culture and find out what Mikoshi is, the next article is for you. Please click on the link to check it out!

URL: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/5678/

More Lantern Festivals

I hope you enjoyed reading this article and it made you want to visit this great festival. Lantern festivals in Japan are very popular, and you can see it in any season. If you would like to know more about other lantern festivals in Japan, enjoy its mystical atmosphere, and admire a glowing night in Japan, please click on the link below and you will find an article on the best 13 lantern festivals in Japan!

URL: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/5021/

Would You Like to Know How to Enjoy a Japanese Festival Even More?

A lot of people when they get to a Matsuri for the first time feel themselves a bit lost. They confuse about what is happening around. If you are new to Japanese Festivals or want to know an alternative way of how you can enjoy these events, the following article will provide you with a set of helpful tips on how to choose a proper festival and activities you should try there. Please don`t hesitate to take a look at it!

URL: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/5363/

Susan

I'm Susan. Thank for reading my article! I hope you will enjoy the event of which I am presenting and have fun in Japan!

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