This night festival held in the town of Ogo at the southern foot of Mt. Akagi is an old tradition that has been upheld for 170 years. The festival’s origins lie in the late Edo-period custom of having the “heavenly king” Tenno march through the streets with a raging lion to expel deadly diseases.
The festival is held every year on the last Friday and Saturday of July. On the first day the rites to welcome the gods are conducted, and on the second day Tenno’s procession is held, with the famous “raging lion” (or abareshishi) making its entrance in the evening. As the name suggests, the lion rages violently through the streets warding off misfortune—it’s a sight you simply can’t miss!
There are also musical performances to see. The local children play hayashi music from on top of the festival floats, and there are also Ogo fujin taiko drums, shakuhachi flutes, and various other traditional Japanese musical performances.
I am a 3rd-generation Japanese-Peruvian. I have been living in Japan for 12 years.
Last week, I went to the Ogo Gion Festival for the first time. I had heard the main event was the “Raging Lion” (abare-shishi)dance, and so I envisioned something like Maebashi’s Danbei or some performance meant to get people excited, but it was quite different actually. When I saw the “Raging Lion” I was a little scared at first, but I asked one of the locals about the history behind it and was deeply moved by the story. I learned a lot about Japanese culture, the Japanese way of thinking and way of life. I had a wonderful time at this festival, and felt almost as though I had gone back in time to ancient Japan.
I also saw the local youths working together to prepare for the famous “Raging Lion.” Watching the next generation of young people work like this, I could sense their gratitude toward their hometown and their feelings of pride that they could participate in the “Raging Lion” event. The festival really is like a dream where you can learn about the deep history and traditions that bind the town, families, and people together. I hope the festival continues on forever. I also hope to take my family to see the “Raging Lion” next year.
Festival Date: Last Saturday/Sunday of July—4pm-10pm
The “Raging Lion” can be seen from 6pm on the second day of the festival. The lion begins raging through the street from 7:40pm, and the disease-warding rites and climax of the show take place on the main street at around 9pm.
Location: Ogo-machi, Shitamachi-dori / JA Maebashi City Hall Ogo Branch Plaza / Shinonome Shinkin Bank Parking Lot
Access (Public Transportation): The closest station to the festival is Ogo Station, located along the local Jomo Dentetsu train line. From JR Maebashi Station, first take the shuttle bus or walk to Chuo Maebashi Station (5 minutes via bus, 15 minutes on foot). Then take the train bound for Kiryu (the kudari, or “descending” train) from Chuo Maebashi Station. In about 17 minutes you will arrive at Ogo Station. Get off there and you’re only about a 3-minute walk from the festival area!
Access (car): About 20 minutes away from the Kita-Kanto Expressway Komagata IC, or 30 minutes from the Kan-etsu Expressway Takasaki IC.
*Parking space is very limited, so we urge attendees to come via public transportation.