Originally published on metropolis.co.jp on October 2012
Sun, Nov 11, Kawaguchi & Hatogaya
(Nov 18 in case of rain)
In the gorgeous and largely undiscovered prefecture of Saitama—just a short ride from Tokyo—and the adjacent UNESCO world heritage site of Nikko, witness a piece of reconstructed history in a grand spectacle this November.
Tokugawa Ieyasu was the first shogun after Japan’s long Sengoku Period of “warring states,” taking power and becoming the leader of a unified Japan in 1600. In the back and forth leading up to his final triumph, the historic road of Nikko Onari-michi was an important artery.
Nikko Onari-michi stretched 48km from present-day Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo, to Satte, Saitama. During the Kamakura period, it was the main road to Oushu, now Tohoku.
Tokugawa Ieyasu was enshrined by his grandson in the magnificent Tosho-gu, the great shrine that most people who have been to Nikko will have visited. It became an important ritual for subsequent Edo-period shogun to go up the same road of Nikko Onari-michi to pay homage to Tokugawa’s tomb.
One year ago Saitama’s Kawaguchi merged with Hatogaya to create the new Kawaguchi City. Now the locals will be celebrating their anniversary with spectacular pomp and ceremony, delving into the area’s rich vein of history.
More than 1,000 people, many dressed as samurai, will march along Nikko Onari-michi, now the Kawaguchi Honcho Odori in Saitama. They will get on the Saitama railway—there might have been no trains in 1600, but allow them some poetic license—and continue in Hatogaya. This will be accompanied by period performances by street artists.
Popular actor Ken Matsudaira will play the shogun in this elaborate recreation, to the tune of traditional Japanese marching bands, with historical figures and acrobats leaping about for color.
You can watch on the Kawaguchi side, or the Hatogaya side, or weigh in for the whole thing—even boarding the Saitama railway together with the samurai hordes.
Kawaguchi juku, Hatogaya juku, Nikko Onari-michi matsuri
- Kawaguchi Parade: Sun, Nov 11, 10am-1pm: Kawaguchi Honcho Odori (Sangyo Road); 1.5km
- Nearest stn: Kawaguchi-Motogo (Saitama Railway) or JR Kawaguchi
- Hatogaya Parade: Sun, Nov 11, 1-4pm: Prefectural Road 105; 1.1km
- Nearest stn: Hatogaya (Saitama Railway)
- Tel: 048-259-9026