Sanja Matsuri 2016


When: 13/05/16 - 16/05/16: 1:00 pm - 8:00 pm

Where: Asakusa Shrine, 2-3-1 Asakusa

The centerpiece of the Sanja Matsuri (“Three Shrines Festival”) is the procession of three portable shrines, also known as mikoshi, around the Asakusa neighborhood. Don’t expect your local, mid-sized portable shrine, though: these three mikoshi are colossal, and local residents will take turns carrying them – most likely with the help of copious amounts of nihonshu.

The first Sanja Matsuri dates back to the year 1312, and was held in celebration of the three founders of Sensoji, who are enshrined as Shinto gods (kami) at the nearby Asakusa Shrine. Each year the event, which is one of the most important Shinto festivals in Tokyo, draws nearly two million people over the course of the weekend. Although the “main event” is on Sunday, things start to pick up on Friday, with a parade that kickstarts the festival. Floats carrying musicians armed with flutes and drums and people dressed as traditional artisans and dancers all make their way to Asakusa Shrine.

Saturday’s action features around 100 portable shrines of all sizes carried by different groups of people: some by children, some by women, and some by er, inebriated men. Asakusa will be packed with the usual festival fare: food stalls, game booths, souvenir shops, and countless people milling about. (Keep an eye out for some of the impressively tattooed yakuza, who also carry their own mikoshi.) Let the Shinto gods bring good weather, and go find out if it’s really as wild as it’s supposed to be…


Sanja Matsuri

How much: Free

More information:

Image: jamesjustin/Flickr, used under CC

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