Summer in Japan means three things: beaches, matsuri, and fireworks. We’ve already gotten out beach fix with our trip to Isshiki Kaigan (with more beach time to come when we visit the in-laws in Ibaraki in a few weeks.) Next on our summer to-do list is attend a few matsuri, starting with my favorite, the Edogawa Goldfish Matsuri.
Matsuri in Japan
Japanese matsuri are festivals with Shinto Buddhist roots or traditions from the Chinese mainland.
Typical festival sights include men carrying large objects like a mikoshi or dashi, and crowds dancing around a yagura.
Now take everything that I’ve just said about a typical Japanese festival, and throw it away. Because you won’t find any of that stuff at the Edogawa Goldfish Festival!
Edogawa Goldfish Festival
I introduced the Edogawa Goldfish Festival in my post, How To Spend Summer in Tokyo With A Baby Or Toddler.
To recap, it’s a 2 day event held on the third weekend in July in Gyosen Park, which is located in the Kasai area of Tokyo’s Edogawa Ward.
What makes Edogawa Ward so special is that it is one of the 3 places in Japan that still has a viable goldfish farming industry.
The industry got its start in the late 1800s, when having goldfish as pets became popular among common folk. Up unitl then, goldfish were ornamental pets for the rich and famous.
The Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 wiped out goldfish fams in the city, prompting the relocation of farms to east Tokyo.
The industry in Edogawa was further revitalized in the 60s, and the Edogawa Goldfish Festival was born!
All over Edogawa Ward, you’ll see train stations, side walks, and even elementary schools with realistic depictions of goldfish.
The festival celebrates this unique industry and gives thanks to goldfish who have helped put Edogawa Ward on the radar for goldfish aficionados across Tokyo and from all over Japan.
It’s a super-family friendly event where kids and adults play a game called kingyo sukui, or goldfish scooping. More than 20,000 fish are set aside for this game!
To play, you use a special scooper to collect fish from a small pool. The catch is that the scoop’s surface is a thin paper that breaks easily!
For younger kids who can’t quite scoop goldfish by themselves, there’s water yo-yos.
As with any matsuri, there’s food in addition to games, too.
When you’re all done with the goldfish, do stop by the Edogawa City Shizen Zoo, which is right on the grounds of Gyosen Park.
Edogawa City Shizen Zoo
There’s a mini zoo with a spacious petting zoo that I love.
Don’t forget to bring your bathing suit or swin diapers, because there’s also a wonderful foundation to spalsh around in, too.
How To Get There
From Kasai Station, take a bus bound for Ukita. Gyosen Park is a 1 minute walk from Ukita bus stop.