Shinsengumi (Samurai) Festival in Tokyo

If you are interested either in samurais, Edo period or Japanese traditional culture, you can’t miss this event!

Hino Shinsengumi Festival

  • Held on: 13th and 14th of May, 2017
  • Place: Around Hino station (JR Chuo Line) and Takahata-fudo station (Keio Line)
  • Time: 10 am – 5 pm (JST)

There’ll be so many programs around these areas such as a big samurai parade and martial arts performances.
They say that the parade and some of other programs are going to be broadcast on these apps below. Perhaps they are only available in Japanese, but I think it’s worth trying if you’re interested. 😉

Here is an official page of this event in English. Unfortunately it is not about this year, but I hope you can grasp some atmosphere of the event.
➡Hino Shinsengumi Festival

What is Shinsengumi?

Shinsengumi (新選組, meaning “New Selected Group”) was a special police force during Japan’s Bakumatsu period (late 19th century). It was founded to maintain peace and order of Kyoto and to fight against the anti-Shogunate reformists. The founding members were from some sword schools of Edo (the former name of Tokyo).
Actually, most of them were not originally samurais but were farmers or merchants. However, they had strongly wanted to be samurais and respected “Bushido”, or the samurai spirit, so they lived more like “samurais” than many originally-born samurais who just enjoyed their privilege and became corrupt.
Shinsengumi fought for the samurai’s government until its end, so they are the real “last samurais”.

Learn more about Shinsengumi

What is Hino?

Hino is a city located in the west of Tokyo, about 30 mins away from Shinjuku by train. It is called “a hometown of Shinsengumi” because some of the main members were from there including the vice commander Toshizo Hijikata, who is one of the most popular samurais in Japanese history.
Hikogoro Sato, a cousin and brother-in-law of Hijikata, owned a swordsmanship training hall (道場, dojo) in Hino, and other Shinsengumi members, such as the commander Isami Kondo and his pupil Soji Okita (the captain of the 1st unit), sometimes visited there to have training together.

Where to visit in Hino

There are several museums and places related to Shinsengumi in Hino, and some of them are run by their descendants.

Takahata-fudo temple

This temple, famous for being Hijikata’s family temple and his statue, has a museum where you can see several letters, calligraphy and so on related to Hijikata or other important people of the time.

 

🚋 3 mins walk from Takahata-fudo station (Keio Line)
Open: everyday, 9 am – 5pm (the museum and tower: – 4 pm).

An antique market is held every third Sunday of the month!

Shinsengumi’s Hometown Museum

In this museum, run by Hino city, you can not only learn about the city but also try Shinsengumi uniforms (both Edo style and Meiji style) with a sword! They have three replica swords: Toshizo Hijikata’s, Hajime Saito’s and Soji Okita’s.

 

 

🚋 15 mins walk from Hino station (JR Chuo Line)
From Takahata-fudo, take a bus to Hino station.
Open: Tue-Sun, 9:30 am – 5pm (Last entry: 4:30 pm).

➡ Official website

Hino-juku Honjin

Juku means a posting station, and honjin was an officially designated inn used as a lodging when a feudal lord (大名, daimyo) traveled between his country and Edo.
Hikogoro Sato was a headman of the village, and His family and Toshizo Hijikata lived and managed this house.
You can enjoy elaborated design of the house and the garden. I like the paintings and calligraphy on the fusumas, or papered sliding doors.

 

🚋 12 mins walk from Hino station (JR Chuo Line)
From Takahata-fudo, take a bus to Hino station.
Open: Tue-Sun, 9:30 am – 5pm (Last entry: 4:30 pm).
➡ Official website

 Hijikata Toshizo Museum

This museum, run by descendants of Toshizo Hijikata’s sibling, tells us what Hijikata family used to be like in those days.
You can see bamboos which Toshizo planted when he decided to be a samurai. Many kinds of original souvenirs are available.

🚋 2 mins walk from Manganji station (Tama Monorail)
You can take Tama Monorail from Takahata-fudo.
Open: See the calendar on the official site.
(Usually 1st & 3rd Sun, 12 pm – 4 pm)

Sato Hikogoro Museum

Hikogoro is Toshizo Hijikata’s cousin and brother-in-low (his sister’s husband). Hijikata’s parents passed away when he was a child and thereafter he lived with Sato family, so Hikogoro was one of Hijikata’s closest family members. This museum, run by Hikogoro’s descendants, has several letters and precious souvenirs from Hijikata, which indicates how important Sato family was for him.

🚋 8 mins walk from Hino station (JR Chuo Line)
Open: See the calendar on the official site.
(Usually 1st & 3rd Sun, 11 am – 4 pm)

Inoue Genzaburo Museum

Genzaburo Inoue, commonly known as “Gen-san“, was the captain of the 6th unit of Shinsengumi. He was also from Hino and his descendants run a museum about him, Inoue family and Shinsengumi.

 

🚋 7 mins walk from Hino station (JR Chuo Line)
Open: See the calendar on the official site.
(Usually 1st & 3rd Sun, 12 pm – 4 pm)

Yasaka shrine

Not just a local shrine in Hino, it has a historically important wood plate which reads some important people of Tennen Rishin school of swordplay, to which Kondo and Okita belonged. It is shown only on special occasions, like during this festival!

 

🚋 2 mins walk from Hino station (JR Chuo Line)
Open: Anytime

Hino-juku Koryu-kan

Several kinds of souvenirs are available.
Open: Tue-Sun, 9 am – 5 pm.
➡Official website

NB: This is the information as of May 12th, 2017.
Visit each official website for the latest info or inquiry.

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