【UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage】Held in a town with remaining atmospheres of the Edo period, the Grand Festival of Sawara is the town's most celebrated event. This 300 year old historical event has two parts—its summer and autumn festivals. The autumn "Suwa-jinja Aki Matsuri" and the summer "Yasaka-jinja Gionsai" are together known as the Grand Festival of Sawara. In summer and autumn, a total of 24 floats parade, making the festival known as one of the Kanto region's three most well-known dashi (floats) festivals. 14 floats parade during the autumn "Suwa-jinja Aki Matsuri". Furthermore, the beautifully melodic chanting is the "Sawara-bayashi", known as one of the three major festival chants of Japan.
Sawara prospered since the Edo period for its water transportation, allowed by the Tone River. Absorbing Edo (present-day Tokyo)'s various cultures, Sawara nurtured its own "Edo-masari" culture. The "Grand Festival of Sawara" blossomed as its culmination. Feel and experience the spirit of "Iki" (unique Japanese sense of aesthetics) alive in the festival that evolved over 300 years of its rich history.
14 floats parade during the autumn "Suwa-jinja Aki Matsuri". On the floats are 4m tall figures modeled after mythical and historical figures. Furthermore, the floats are decorated with fine carvings of folk tales, lions, dragons and hawks carved by master burinists. Please view these powerful yet delicately detailed works.
"Sawara-bayashi" is the festival chant in the Grand Festival of Sawara. The chants are performed by musicians riding on the floats, and have unique sentimental melodies. The tradition has continued for the past 300 years as one of the three major festival chants of Japan.
There are over 40 songs, and are sung according to the moves and atmosphere of the floats, adding to the excitement of the festival.
Lanterns are lit on each float at night, as the atmosphere becomes fantasy-like. The floats slowly move along Ono river, reflecting its lanterns on the river surface. Its combination with the festival chanting allows you to feel the autumn approaching.
Available in Japanese, English, traditional Chinese, Thai, and Korean
Blocking the floats is prohibited.
Accessing Sawara area
JR Sawara Station (JR Narita Line, JR Kashima Line)
Address: Sawarai Katori City, Chiba Pref.
Shinjuku-ku Sawara-cho Katori City, Chiba Pref.
Cars will not be able to pass through the floats' courses due to traffic regulations.
A temporary free parking lot is set up on Tone riverbank, and a fee-charging shuttle boat runs to the festival site.