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Blast in Japan Summer 2006

Festivals and Fireworks in Kanto Region
– July Edition –

 
Maebashi Tanabata Festival
Celebrating the 56th annual festival this year, Maebashi Tanabata Festival is the largest Tanabata Festival in northern Kanto region. The festival is concentrated in the commercial streets of the city and is joined by nearly 20 commercial neighborhoods (shotengai) decorating the streets with humorous yet detailed Tanabata decorations from popular TV characters to social events. In addition to the decorations displayed throughout the event days, special events including the local Dambeh-Odori will be performed on the weekend.

*Tanabata…July 7. According to a Chinese legend, this is the only day throughout the year when the separated lovers Orihime (the star Vega) and Hikoboshi (the star) Altair can cross the Milky Way to see each other. Since the legend symbolizes the day as when your wishes come true, people celebrate Tanabata writing their wishes on pieces of paper (tanzaku) and hanging them on bamboo branches.
 
 
[Dates] July 6-9, 2006
[Time] 10:00-22:00
[Location] City center of Maebashi City… Gunma Prefecture
[Access] 10-min-walk from JR Maebashi Station
[Admission] Free
[Inquiry] 027-234-5111 (Tanabata Matsuri Committee Office)
[URL] http://www.city.maebashi.gunma.jp/ctg/
(Gunma Prefecture Maebashi City official web site, Japanese)
 
 
Shonan Hiratsuka Tanabata Festival
Known to be one of the representative Tanabata Festivals of Japan alongside of Sendai Tanabata Festival, Shonan Hiratsuka Tanabata Festival marks its 56th anniversary this year. The highlight of this festival is undoubtedly the gorgeous bamboo decorations which also provide a magnificent illumination against the dark summer sky. Visitors are welcome to entertain themselves with the various events such as Tanabata Sennin Odori (thousand people dancing), the music parade and Shonan Hiratsuka Orihime Contest (beauty pageant).
 
 
[Dates] July 6-9, 2006
[Time] daytime to 21:30
[Location] Tokaido Main Street etc., Hiratsuka City,
Kanagawa Prefecture
[Access] 2-min-walk from JR Hiratsuka Station
[Admission] Free
[Inquiry] 0463-35-8107 (Hiratsuka City Commerce and Tourism)
[URL] http://www.city.hiratsuka.kanagawa.jp/tanabata/
(Official web site, Japanese)
 
 
Narita Gion Festival
Narita Gion Matsuri runs for 3 day straight and is the largest festival in scale to be held in Narita. Almost 600,000 visitors gather around to feel the enthusiastic atmosphere of the spectacular parade of the gorgeously decorated mikoshi (portable shrine) and dashi (float).
 
 
[Dates] July 7-9, 2006/06/22
[Time] 7/7…13:00-22:00
7/8…9:00-22:00
7/9…13:00-23:00
[Location] Naritasan Shinshoji Temple
1-banchi Naritashi, Chiba Prefecture
[Access] 10-min-walk from Keisei Narita Station: Keisei Line
[Admission] Free
[Inquiry] 0476-22-2102 (Narita Tourist Association)
[URL] http://www.nrtk.jp/ht/e/index.html
(Narita Tourist Association official web site,
English/ French/ Chinese/ Hangeul)
 
 
Sawara Grand Summer Festival (Yasaka Shrine Gion Matsuri)
This festival is known as one of Kanto’s Three Grand Float Festivals and has a history of about 300 years and is registered as National Important Intangible Folklore Cultural Asset. The scene of ten huge festival floats parading through the national preserved historical neighborhood is absolutely stunning.
 
 
[Dates] July 14-16, 2006
[Location] Yasaka Shrine, Honjuku area of Sawara
Katori City, Chiba Prefecture
[Access] 10-min-walk from JR Sawara Station
[Admission] Free
[Inquiry] 0478-50-1212
(Katori City Sawara-ku Commercial and Tourism Desk)
[URL] http://www.city.katori.lg.jp/kankou/event/su_009.html
(Katori City Official web site, Japanese)
 
 
Onishi Summer Festival
Here you can see an unusually big yatai, a larger version of mikoshi which many people can fit in, dragged around through the neighborhood by hundreds of people each wearing different happi (festival costume) accordingly to their towns.
 
 
[Dates] July 15-16, 2006
[Time] 14:00-22:00
[Location] Center of Fujioka City, Gunma Prefecture
[Access] 35-bus ride from JR Shinmachi Station or,
5-min-walk from Onishi Sogoshisho Station
[Admission] Free
[Inquiry] 0274-52-2062 (Onishi Commercial Committee)
[URL] http://www.gunma-kanko.or.jp/navinet/servlet/TouristFusen
(Gunma Sightseeing Navigation, Japanese)
 
 
Mouka City Summer Festival and Fireworks
The crossing of the mikoshi across Gogyo River starts the moment the of the firing of the fireworks. Under the brilliant sky colored with 20,000 fireworks, wages the famous “fight festival” in which several yatais aggressively crash into each other allowing the visitors to see the two different yet marvelous “fires” at the same time.
 
 
[Dates] July 22, 2006
[Time] 19:00–
[Location] Riverside of Gogyo River, east of Mouka City Office
Mouka City, Tochigi Prefecture
[Access] 15-min-walk from Mouka Station: transfer from JR to Mouka Railway at Shimodate Station
[Admission] Free
[Inquiry] 0285-83-8135 (Mouka City Tourist Association)
[URL]  http://www.city.moka.tochigi.jp/kankou/maturi/maturi.htm
(Mouka City Tourist Association official web site, JPN)
 
 
Chofu City Fireworks
If you want to see fireworks non-stop for 70 minutes, this is the right place to go. Nearly 10,000 fireworks will be shot up in the summer sky, and moreover, there will be a spectacle of music and fireworks from 20:00 that just keeps the audience breathless.
 
 
[Dates] July 23, 2006
[Time] 19:20-20:30
[Location] Tamagawa Riverside, Chofu City Tokyo
[Access] 3-min-walk from Tamagawa Station: Keio Line
[Admission] Free (however priority seats are charged 2,000 yen per seat. No chairs are prepared in the charge-free areas)
[Inquiry] 042-481-7311 (Chofu Fireworks Festival Committee)
[URL] http://www.csa.gr.jp/hanabi2006.htm
(Chofu City Tourist Association, Japanese)
 
 
Shimodate Gion Festival
Shimodate Gion Festival is famous as the festival with Japan’s largest mikoshi. You can see an exciting yet sacred scene on Sunday, the last day of the festival, where participants carry the mikoshi to Gongyo River at 6:00 in the morning and walk in the water for almost one hour.
 
 
[Dates] July 27-30, 2006
[Time] Please contact information for details.
[Location] Haguro Shrine, Shimodate Station main street, Gongyo River area                               
Chikusei City, Ibaraki Prefecture
[Access] 5-min-walk from JR Shimodate Station
[Admission] Free
[Inquiry] 0296-20-1160 (Chikusei City Tourist Information)
[URL] http://www.city.chikusei.lg.jp/index.html
(Chikusei City official web site *event information is currently under construction)
 
 
29th Annual Sumida River Great Fireworks
Sumida River Great Fireworks is one of the biggest fireworks in Tokyo area having a history of 273 years, becoming the seasonal highlight of downtown Edo. It attracts thousands of audience every year, with some lining up to get hold of viewing space from the previous days. 20,000 fireworks will be fired in two places. Because the festival is also known as Japan’s top fireworks competition, a number of amazing fireworks in design and scale can be seen.
 
 
[Dates] July 29, 2006
[Time] 19:00 – 20:30
(fireworks will be postponed to Sunday 7/30 in case of rain. It will be cancelled if unable to carry out on neither of the days.)
[Location] Sumida River watershed… Sumida-ku, Tokyo
[Access] 15-min-walk from Asakusa Station:
Tokyo Metro Ginza Line, Toei Asakusa Line
[Admission] Free (however priority seats are charged 2,000 yen per seat. No chairs are prepared in the charge-free areas)
[Inquiry] 03-5608-1111
(Sumida River Fireworks Committee Head Office)
[URL] http://www.kanko-sumida.com/hanabi_top_page.html
(Sumida Culture and Tourism Association official web site, Japanese with some English)
 
 
Oyama Summer Festival 2006
More than 20,000 fireworks are going to be shot up in the vast sky including the best competitive works of firework meisters across the country and the dynamic Starmine. Be sure not to miss the Niagara, the highlight and climax of the show which spreads almost 1 kilometer wide shooting out sparkles downward like the great Niagara Falls.
 
 
[Dates] July 30, 2006
[Time] 19:00 – 20:30
[Location] Omoigawa Riverside (lower stream of Kankoubashi Bridge)…Oyama City, Tochigi Prefecture
[Access] 8-min-walk from JR Oyama Station
[Admission] Free
[Inquiry] 0285-22-9273
(Oyama Summer Festival 2006 Committee Office)
[URL] http://www.oyama-cci.or.jp/event/summer.html
(Oyama City official web site, Japanese)
 
 
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