Sawarano Taisai Aki Matsuri ~ Grand festival of Sawara ~

(佐原の大祭 秋祭り)

Katori City, Chiba Pref.

Over 100 Years All Day See Kanto

About the festival

【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. 

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Things to do

1. Watch the 14 bold yet detailed floats

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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. 

2. The beautifully melodic "Sawara-bayashi" brings the festival's excitement level up

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"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.

3. The fantasy-like Ono river at night

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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. 

Information (基本情報)

  • Festival Dates October 13th (Fri) through 15th (Sun), 2017
    Held annually on the 2nd Saturday of October, and its surrounding Friday and Sunday.
  • Place Shinjuku-ku Sawara-cho Katori City, Chiba Pref.
  • General Participation Participation is allowed depending on the area.
  • International Reception and Info. Foreign language pamphlets available.
    Foreign language speaking volunteer guides are placed at the tourist information center in front of JR Sawara Station at all times during the festival.
  • Wi-Fi Available at more than 20 establishments participating in the Katori Free Wi-Fi
  • Restrooms Temporary lavatories are set up at key locations
  • Other useful Info. Coin-operated lockers available at JR Sawara Station, and at the tourist information center in front of JR Sawara Station.
  • HP

    http://www.suigo-sawara.ne.jp/abroad.html
    Available in Japanese, English, traditional Chinese, Thai, and Korean

  • Sawara Grand Festival Execution Committee
    0478-54-1111

Rules & Manners(参加のルール&マナー)

Blocking the floats is prohibited.

Access Map (アクセスと地図)

Accessing Sawara area
[nearest station]
JR Sawara Station (JR Narita Line, JR Kashima Line)

Festival Location 
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.

Emiko Izawa
Writer
Born in Shizuoka. I love Sushi, Sake, Shrine, Stationary and Stage!