川越まつり歴史・見どころ

歴史

慶安元年(1648)、当時の川越藩主・松平信綱※1が、川越氷川神社に神輿などを寄進して祭礼を奨励し、慶安4年(1651)から神輿が町々を巡行したことが「川越氷川祭の山車行事」の起源だといわれています。

文政9年(1826)に描かれた「川越氷川祭礼絵巻」には、山車行列が川越城へと向かう様子が描かれており、「天下祭※2」と呼ばれた、江戸の山王祭、神田祭とよく似ています。かつて川越は、江戸との間を結ぶ新河岸川の舟運により、物資のみならず江戸の文化も入ってきました。「川越氷川祭の山車行事」は江戸祭礼の様式の影響を強く受けているとみられています。

現在では、山王祭、神田祭ともに山車の巡行が見られなくなってしまったため、「江戸の祭り文化」を現代に伝える貴重な祭礼行事といえます。

 

In 1648, the lord of Kawagoe domain, Matsudaira Nobutsuna*1, donated a portable shrine to Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine. In 1651, the shrine made the rounds of the local towns, which is considered to be the origins of the Kawagoe Hikawa float festival today.

The Kawagoe Hikawa Festival Scroll, drawn in 1826, depicts floats in a procession towards Kawagoe Castle. It closely resembles the tenka-matsuri*2 events, such as the Sanno Matsuri and Kanda Matsuri of Edo. Kawagoe was at one time linked to Edo through the vessels that plied the waterways of the Shingashi River, so commodities and culture from Edo came on the boats. The Kawagoe Hikawa float festival appears to have been strongly influenced by the style of festivals practiced in old Edo.

Today, the Sanno Matsuri and Kanda Matsuri no longer involve floats, meaning the Kawagoe festival is a rare place to see the continuation of Edo era culture.

見どころ

小江戸・川越の象徴でもある蔵造りの町並みをバックに、絢爛豪華な山車が町々を続々と練り歩くその迫力は圧巻です。山車の高さは8mを超え、重さは2~3 tにもなるといわれています。また、山車は全部で29台もあり、その中には江戸時代に製作されたものもあります。

また、山車同士がすれ違う際は、相手の山車に向けて囃子台を回転させ、至近距離で囃子※3を打ち鳴らし、踊りを競い合います 。これは「曳(ひ)っかわせ」と呼ばれ、「川越まつり」最大の見どころです。

夜になると、山車や若衆※4たちが持っている提灯に明かりが灯り、昼間とは違ったきらびやかな雰囲気を楽しめます。それぞれの山車の曳き手たちは山車の前で提灯を高々と振り上げ、その周りでは囃子方への声援が飛び交い、 祭りの盛り上がりは最高潮に達します。

《注釈》
※1、松平信綱:江戸時代前期の大名で武蔵国忍藩主、同川越藩初代藩主。
※2、天下祭:数ある江戸の祭りの中で幕府によって行列が江戸城内に入ることが許された”将軍公認”の祭りのこと。主に日枝神社の山王祭と江戸の地主神だった神田明神の神田祭のことを指す。神輿の前後に30数台の山車や様々な練り物が従い、城下を練り歩く様は江戸町人の盛んな意気を示したとされる。
※3、若衆=山車の引き手など、祭りに携わる人の中で、若い人のことを指す。
※4、囃子=祭りなどで演奏される音楽。太鼓、笛、鉦(かね)などを使う。

 

The warehouse style streetscapes of Kawagoe, which is described as a microcosm of Edo, create a backdrop in which gorgeous floats parade through town. They exceed 8 meters in height, and reach 2-3 tons in weight. There are 29 of these floats in total, with some having even been made in the Edo era.

When the floats pass by each other, they vie for each other’s attention, trying to outdo the other float — they rotate the performing pedestal and get up close to the other float, playing their hayashi*3 instruments loudly. This is referred to as hikkawase and is one of the signature sights of the Kawagoe Matsuri.

At night, the floats and lanterns held by the wakashu*4 are illuminated, creating a brilliant scene different from what you will see by day. The operators of the floats hoist their lanterns high up before them, as each group roots for the performers they like best.

Editor’s note:

*1: Matsudaira Nobutsuna: a feudal lord in the early Edo era and the lord of Musashi province, as well as the first lord of Kawagoe domain
*2 Tenka-matsuri: of the many festivals held in old Edo, these were the ones formally approved by the shogun and allowing the procession to enter the Edo Castle grounds. This generally refers to Sanno Matsuri, associated with Hie Shrine, and the Kanda Matsuri, associated with Kandai Myojin Shrine, with ties to the local deity. Some thirty floats and various processions were held to congregate around the portable shrine, with the snaking lines around the castle suggesting the thriving spirit of Edo merchants.
*3 Hayashi: Music performed at festivals. Involves hand drums, flutes, and gongs.
*4 Wakashu: young men who pull the floats or are involved in the festival processions.

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