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Seasonal Secret JUL-AUG 2021

Edogawa Goldfish Festival

Goldfish, goldfish, everywhere: The most delightful summer festival in all of Japan

Lots of goldfish swimming

🎐You might remember from a previous Japanagram that one traditional way of beating the Japanese summer heat is to gaze at goldfish swimming in their cool, watery world. Goldfish are so synonymous with summer in Japan that you’ll see them gracing everything from kimonos to fans from June through August. But where do people get all these goldfish? At a summertime goldfish festival, of course! And these festivals are about so much more than pet acquisition. Read on, as we venture outside the Yamanote Line, and stroll through the biggest and best goldfish festivals in the capital!

Goldfish at the Edogawa Goldfish Festival
The quarry
The goldfish tent at the Edogawa Goldfish Festival
What’s going on at the end of the long line snaking all around the Edogawa central park’s swimming pool? It’s the catch-your-own-goldfish tent!
Catching goldfish at the Edogawa Goldfish Festival
We finally reach the entrance, pay our ¥100 admission, and receive…
Catching goldfish at the Edogawa Goldfish Festival
Our very own goldfish catching net!
Catching goldfish at the Edogawa Goldfish Festival
This is such a summertime ritual, it attracts all ages of goldfish hunters, who do it for the kind of nostalgic hit we might get from wandering through a state fair and trying our hand at the shooting gallery
It’s a childhood rite of passage to be passed secret tips and tricks for catching the goldfish of your dreams by your most renowned goldfish-catching relative
The classic broken goldfish net at the Edogawa Goldfish Festival
And the reason you might be willing to accept tutoring from your otherwise arch-enemy sibling is that the first time you try to catch a goldfish with your little paper net, you experience this universally understood Japanese meme for failing at something that looks simple. Back to the end of the line, pay another ¥100, try again.
Catching goldfish at the Edogawa Goldfish Festival
When you get the hang of the swift scoop, you can catch up to two fish for your ¥100, and the goldfish wrangler will slip them into a plastic bag for you to tote home
Bags of goldfish at the Edogawa Goldfish Festival
And if you STILL fail (NOT THAT I KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT THAT) the nice attendant will take pity on you and hand you one of the bags of consolation prize fishies hanging on the line behind him
Two boys taking goldfish home from the Edogawa Goldfish Festival
Everybody goes home a winner!
Goldfish at the Edogawa Goldfish Festival
But catching your own isn’t the only way to get a goldfish. There are plenty for sale, too
Goldfish at the Edogawa Goldfish Festival
And what a selection! Colors and shapes and varieties I’d never seen before
Goldfish at the Edogawa Goldfish Festival
And some are selling for far more than I ever imagined a goldfish could fetch, even a fancy one. These are $35.00 (USD) each!
Goldfish at the Edogawa Goldfish Festival
Wups, spoke too soon. Hold my beer, these are $200.00 each!
Goldfish at the Edogawa Goldfish Festival
And these? Yikes! A whopping $500.00 per fancy-finned fish
Fish-shaped balloon souvenirs at the Edogawa Goldfish Festival
You don’t have to spend hundreds to go home with a souvenir. No festival would be complete without you-can-only-get-it-here swag!
Traditional Japanese goldfish bowls at the Edogawa Goldfish Festival
Naturally, there are stands selling homes for your new goldfish, like these old-fashioned Japanese fish bowls that deliver the ultimate in summer cooling vibes
Fish-shaped balloon souvenirs at the Edogawa Goldfish Festival
The sheer variety of balloons-within-balloons made this worth the trip
Fish-shaped balloon souvenirs at the Edogawa Goldfish Festival
These were my favorite fancy fish inflatables
Goldfish themed furin bell souvenirs at the Edogawa Goldfish Festival
And a summer festival wouldn’t be complete without that must summery tchochke of all, the goldfish-themed wind chime
Edogawa Goldfish Festival mascot
Naturally, there’s a goldfish festival mascot, for all your selfie needs
Small girl in yukata with unicorn balloon at the Edogawa Goldfish Festival
And because goldfish festivals are one of the most popular events everyone wears their coolest summer kimono for, it’s a great place to spot little kids…
Young women in yukata catching goldfish at the Edogawa Goldfish Festival
…and big girls wearing yukata
Making your own shave ice at the Edogawa Goldfish Festival
We can’t go home without a stop at the shave ice truck, where you can make your own combo
Shave ice at the Edogawa Goldfish Festival
…although I stuck with the classic: ichigo miruku (strawberry with condensed milk YUM)

Visiting information:

When: It’s usually scheduled for two days, on a weekend in mid-July. Check online for this year’s dates by searching Edogawa Goldfish Festival

Where: 3-2-1 Kitakasai, Edogawa-ku, Tokyo

Admission: Free

I used the Japan Navigation phone app to get to Edogawa, and you can easily use it to get there from where you’re staying, with your actual date and preferred arrival time. Here’s where to get the app and how to use it.

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Know anyone who’s looking for a good summer read?

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 
The Last Tea Bowl Thief was chosen as an Editor’s Pick for Best Mystery, Thriller & Suspense on Amazon

“A fascinating mix of history and mystery.” —Booklist

Jonelle Patrick writes mystery novels set in Tokyo, and blogs at Only In Japan and The Tokyo Guide I Wish I’d Had

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