Sanja Matsuri 2018
18 – 20 May 2018
Sanja Festival of Asakusa Shrine is counted among Tokyo’s big three festivals since the Edo period, together with Sanno Festival (Hie Shrine) and Kanda Festival (Kanda Shrine).
Photo courtesy (all inside the article): City of Taito, Tokyo
The festival of Asakusa Shrine held on the third weekend of May draws some 1.5 million people every year. The festival is known for the energetic processions of mikoshi, divine vehicle or “portable shrine”.
Each mikoshi carries the divine spirit, transferred from its abode (“jinja” or Shinto sanctuary) during the festival. It makes a tour in the neighbourhood, carried on the shoulders of devotees and volunteers, to give blessings to the community.
Tradition holds that the vigorous shaking of mikoshi, to the rhythm of cries, is apt for awakening the divine spirit on board. It must be quite a rough ride for the divinity…
Dance and Festival Procession
On 18 May, a grand procession (“daigyoretsu”) will take place (to be cancelled in case of rain). The procession is composed of music and dance units with people clad in kimono costumes.
They include a float of festive music (“o-hayashi yatai”), Dance of “binzasara” (sound-producing instrument made of wooden sheets), Dance of White Herons (“shirasagi-no-mai”) and “kiyari” songs (chorus sung by men of certain professions).
Also during the three-day event, dances will be performed every day in dedication to the deity, such as “Binzasara-mai” (Dance of “binzasara”) and “Miko-mai” (dance by miko or maidens engaged in shrine services).
In the main hall and on the stage of Asakusa Shrine.
The festival culminates in mikoshi processions. On Saturday 19 May, about 100 mikoshi belonging to neighbourhood communities come together on the ground behind the Senso-ji Temple, next door of Asakusa Shrine. Each of them goes through a purification ceremony and set out on a tour of its neighbourhood. On Sunday 20 May, three mikoshi of Asakusa Shrine will make a tour in their turn.
Fair and stalls
During the festival, the entire town of Asakusa will be in a festive mood. Many stalls will be set up around the precincts and Nakamise-dori Street.
On 20 May, a fair called “omatsuri-hiroba” will be opened along a stretch of street between Kaminari-mon-dori Street and Umamichi-dori Street, which will be reserved for pedestrians during the event (from 11 am to 6 pm).
page 1 “About” / page 2 “Info”