Shibukawa Dashi Matsuri is said to have started as a Gion festival in the late Edo period. Later, the festival evolved in its own way.
Dashi floats from each of the neighborhoods—lavishly decorated with unique carvings and drop curtains—gather in order to parade together. The sight of them parading together is truly a sight to see. The way in which they pull the floats' ropes in all directions gives the festival its other name "Abare Dashi" (out-of-control floats). The festival is truly a heart-warming matsuri, where you are able to feel the energy and power of the people involved, in order to make this biyearly celebration a reality.
The thrilling Hachiman-nobori is held at around 4 pm, where Dashi floats charge up the Hachimanzaka slope from in front of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport building. Each float charges the slope in their own unique ways—some with its largely different "Santeko" chants, and some others going zigzag full speed. The Hachiman-kudari coming down is in the night, lit-up with faint "bombori" lanterns, slowly descending the slope. The highlight of Shibukawa Dashi Matsuri.
Many of the Dashi floats in this festival are known as Edogata, equipped with an elevator to raise its sections. The 7m tall floats (when its figures are raised to the top) parade without getting caught in electricity lines by utilizing this built-in device. Each of the neighborhoods' floats are decorated differently with 3D carvings and colorful drop curtains, and every one of them is magnificent. Even the festival chant played by flutes, large and small taiko drums and bells are performed differently according to the Dashi.
Please be careful not to obstruct the Dashi parade while taking pictures.
There are areas of traffic control, so please be careful if you are driving.
We recommend walking to the festival because traffic control begins mid-day.
You may want to check the floats' current locations at the festival headquarters, since they are constantly moving.
You may walk across large areas, therefore wearing suited clothing is recommended.
Access to Shibukawa City
JR Shibukawa Station, Joetsu/Agatsuma Line
Yotsukado: areas surrounding 2437 Shibukawa, Shibukawa City, Gunma Pref.
(roughly a 20 min walk from the station)
Hachimanzaka area: areas surrounding 121 Shibukawa, Shibukawa City, Gunma Pref.
English map of central Shibukawa available at Shibukawa Station's tourist information center.