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Sawara: Festival Floats Keeping Ties Alive

Sawara: Festival Floats Keeping Ties Alive

Sawara lies in northeast Chiba Prefecture, around 70 kilometers to the east of Tokyo. Thanks to its location on a tributary of the Tone River, by the 18th century it had become a prosperous center for freight transportation. For some 300 years, Sawara has held festivals twice a year, in July and October. Backed by rich merchants, these developed into major events, featuring 24 large and lavish floats. The festivities have now been registered as a UNESCO intangible cultural asset. On this episode of Journeys in Japan, Saskia Thoelen discovers the excitement of the Sawara Grand Festival, and meets the craftsmen and neighborhood residents who make it happen.


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