Profile photo rowing a boat on Lake Haruna in GUnma

Angus Miyaji

Things to do in Kuki - Nearby Tokyo Interview

Talking about 'things to do' in Kuki City

We are back this month with our popular interviews series, featuring towns and cities near Tokyo, and this month we are talking about Kuki City (久喜市) in Saitama prefecture! Located only an hour from Tokyo, it is a fantastic getaway for anyone seeking to escape the bustling city life and experience the charm of local Japan.

As always, I have been in touch with the people who know best, and this month I had a chance to talk with members of the tourism team within Kuki City Hall’s Kuki Brand Promotion Department. They shared some great information about what to see and do in Kuki City.

Curious to find out more? Here is my interview below, and I am confident that after reading it, you will be more than eager to add Kuki City to your list of places to visit.

Which is the best season to visit Kuki City?

Staff from Kuki City

Summer is by far the best season to visit Kuki!

The reason is because in the middle of June, a festival known as the Lavender and Iris Blue  Festival (あやめ・ラベンダーのブルーフェスティバル) takes place! As a festival that heralds the arrival of summer, it features vibrant lavender and iris flowers that blanket huge swathes of the surrounding area.

Around 11,000 stalks of lavender bloom around the Shobu Administrative Center (菖蒲行政センター ), formerly known as the Shobu General Branch Office of Kuki City. Not only do they dazzle you with an overwhelming amalgamation of blue, but they also give off a wonderful, invigorating scent.

At the festival, visitors have a chance to browse and purchase lavender products while enjoying other events or entertainment at the venue. And at the nearby Shobu Joshi Ayame En (菖蒲城址あやめ園), nearly 3,800 stalks near full-bloom captivate all who come to see them. 

On July 12th and 18th, when the summer’s heat begins to reach its peak, Kuki holds a festival that forges tradition with excitement: The Kuki Chouchin Festival (久喜提燈祭り)!

Boasting a 240-year history, the festival involves seven festival floats from seven different neighborhoods in the city. Beautiful figurine floats are paraded during the day, and at night, floats adorned with five hundred lanterns make a grand appearance.

The clashing of the festival floats and the turning of the lantern floats are a must-see of course, but you also must witness the transformative process of figurine floats being changed into the lantern floats. Once the figurine floats procession finishes in the afternoon, workers begin to put up scaffolding on the floats and reconstruct the floats so that they bear lanterns instead of figurines. The six meter-tall assembly that takes place on the spot is a unique activity among Japanese festivals, and it takes workers nearly two hours without heavy equipment to complete the transition.

It’s the biggest event of the summer, so come enjoy the excitement and fervor of a festival night here at Kuki!

Lavender, Kuki Chouchin Festival, and figurine floats

What are the top 3 attractions you cannot miss in Kuki City?

Staff from Kuki City

There are many attractive tourist sites in Kuki City. As mentioned previously, we have the Iris and Lavender Blue Festival along with the Kuki Chouchin Festival, but there are also other spots that you cannot miss.

First, there is the Washinomiya Shrine (鷲宮神社).

Washinomiya Shrine is one of the oldest shrines in the Kanto region, and it’s a place that holds significance in the world of anime.

The Washinomiya Saibaraku-kagura (鷲宮催馬楽神楽) that takes place there is designated as an Important Intangible Folk Culture Property. Kagura (神楽) is a ritual dance, passed down from people in ancient Japan, that is performed as a prayer to the gods. It is said that among all of the kagura in the Kanto region, the Washinomiya Saibaraku-kagura is considered to be the point of origin for the rest.

This performance takes place six times every year, and it is an extraordinary opportunity to observe a ritual inherited from ancient times.

Next, there is Kurihashi Machi (栗橋町), which hosts several places that are popular among history-lovers.

Historically a Shukuba-machi (Post-town/ Inn town), the area was used as a rest stop for weary travelers during their arduous, long journeys. Even today, the neighborhood retains those elements of comfort and a welcoming atmosphere.

Kuki City is a remarkable place that is rich in both history and culture. When you come and experience the local events and spots here, we hope that you make unforgettable memories along the way.

Staff from Kuki City

Washinomiya Saibaraku-Kagura and Kurihashi-juku lanterns

Recommended food - is there any special dish or drink?

Staff from Kuki City

The Asian pears here are incredibly delicious!

Kuki City is renowned as a producer of pears. As a result, there are many pear products available for purchase. You can buy fresh pears at marketplaces or at farmer’s markets. There are many types of pears that differ in availability depending on the season, but the one common trait they all have is that they are all very sweet and juicy.

Pear juice, which has a perfectly sweet, balanced taste, is one of the most popular products. It’s the perfect drink to have on a hot, summer day!

There are also pear jam and jellies, dried pear, and other snacks or preservatives that use pears!

Apart from pear products, a delicious sweet that is only offered for a limited time is the Lavender Manju (ラベンダー饅頭). The skin is a brilliant lavender color, while the inside consists of refreshing red bean paste, making it a good summer treat.

In addition, there are also manjus filled with salty red bean paste known as Shio Anbin (塩あんびん) and a snack called Chochin sable (ちょうちんサブレ), which resembles the lanterns used in the Chochin festival.

A pair of Asian pears and Lavender Manju

Are there any famous legends and myths in Kuki?

Staff from Kuki City

There is indeed a famous legend around these parts!

It’s a legend that has to do with a cherry blossom tree known as a Shizuka Zakura (静桜) that is found near the Tomb of Shizuka Gozen (静御前の墓), not far from Kurihashi Station.

There was once a woman named Shizuka Gozen (静御前), who was renowned as a Shirabyoshi (白拍子) dancer. She was deeply in love with a man known as Minamoto no Yoshitsune (源義経), who was widely regarded as a great, skilled warrior during the Genpei War (源平合戦).

According to legend, upon learning of his death in battle, great sadness befell upon Shizuka Gozen and she decided to plant a cherry blossom tree near Kurihashi in his honor.

It is from this tree that the Shizuka Zakura cherry blossom tree type’s lineage is derived from.

Compared to most other cherry blossom trees, Shizuka Zakura cherry blossom trees bloom at a much later period of mid-April. The flowers within the five petals are referred to as banners, and the apparent transformation of stamen into petals is what gives it a unique blooming characteristic.

Those who pay a visit to this cherry blossom tree can appreciate a beautiful legend from Japanese history under the Shizuka Zakura’s shade of love and sorrow. 

Staff from Kuki City

Shizuka zakura tree, Shizuka zakura, tomb of Shizuka Gozen, and reenactment of Minamoto Yoshitsune and Shizuka Gozen

Is there anything special for those traveling with kids?

Staff from Kuki City

There are tons of places for families to take wonderful photos among the flowers.

For starters, you have the beautiful Kawaduzakura (河津桜) cherry blossoms that bloom long Aogehorikawa (青毛堀川沿い) in early March.

Near the Kasaiyousuiro (葛西用水路) canal, you have the Cosmos Fureai Road (コスモスふれあいロード), in which poppies and cosmos bloom during spring and autumn respectively for ten kilometers on both sides of the canal.

Kuki Shobu Park (久喜菖蒲公園) offers an ideal environment to go boating, fishing, barbecuing, or do any other exciting activity with children.

These are the perfect places to relax and unwind in natural surroundings. While enjoying the views and the flowers, we hope you will have a fantastic time here with your family!

Aogehorikawa cherry blossoms and Cosmos Fureai Road

Do you have a hidden gem?

Staff from Kuki City

There is a very nice place in nature that we recommend.

It is called Shinmei Jinja no Shaso/Shrine Forest (神明神社の社叢/神社の森), and it is designated as a natural monument by Saitama Prefecture.

The shrine forest is about 1.74 hectares and is built around a 500-meter forest path and surrounding forest area.

Near the entrance of the path leading towards the shrine, you also have Chinju No Mori Park (鎮守の森公園), in which you can find the 100-meter-long Tenno Yamazuka Kofun (天王山塚古墳).

Staff from Kuki City

Tenno Yamazuka Kofun

Final Thoughts

It was great to learn about Kuki from the tourism team within Kuki City Hall’s Kuki Brand Promotion Department and discover all it has to offer!

I must say I was particularly impressed by the Kuki Chochin Festival, which I hope to go see this year.

If you are in Tokyo or planning to visit Japan this summer, why not check out the events and festivals in this city!

How to get to Kuki

1 hour by JR Utsunomiya Line from JR Tokyo Station

45 minutes by Tobu express train from Tobu Asakusa Station

60-90 minutes by car from Tokyo

Further useful information

Read these articles to plan your trip!

Kuki Chouchin Festival

Kuki City Travel Guide Page

Did you find this article useful?

I hope you enjoyed reading about this hidden gem just north of Tokyo, if you would like to know more about fun things to do and travel ideas, please continue to have a look at our must-see / must do things nearby Tokyo page.

To book unique activities in English, please see the Nearby Tokyo experience page.

Profile photo rowing a boat on Lake Haruna in GUnma
Contributor:  Angus Miyaji Founder of Nearby Tokyo and Japan World Link, Angus helps visitors discover off the beaten track destinations in the North Kanto regions (Tochigi, Gunma, Ibaraki & Saitama north of Tokyo). He regularly travels between Japan and the UK promoting tourism and Japanese sake.
Back To Top