Sanja Matsuri

  • Things to do, Festivals
  1. 三社祭 Sanja Matsuri
    Photo: Sanja MatsuriSanja Matsuri
  2. 三社祭
  3. Sanja Matsuri
    Photo: Julie Fader/UnsplashSanja Matsuri
  4. 三社祭
  5. 三社祭
  6. 三社祭

Time Out says

One of Tokyo's biggest and best traditional festivals is back after a two-year hiatus, however, it’s reduced to just two days this year. First held back in 1312, the event celebrates the three men who founded Asakusa's Sensoji Temple, and in pre-Covid times would draw over a million visitors to the neighbourhood over the course of the festival. 

The highlight of the festival comes on Sunday, when three enormous mikoshi (portable shrines) are shuttled through the streets of Asakusa. Local residents usually take turns – and often fight each other for the chance – to carry them, but this year the mikoshi will be transported on a dolly to avoid large crowds. Saturday usually features the Chonai Mikoshi Rengo Togyo, where 100 or so mikoshi from 44 districts in the area are brought together to be purified at Asakusa Shrine, followed by a procession of priests, musicians and more. Unfortunately, that’s cancelled this year, but the traditional mikoshi parade will still take place around Asakusa Shrine from 1pm. 

Do note that a slice of Japan that usually isn't that visible to visitors is in full view here. The festival is partially known (abroad) for the number of yakuza who attend and participate – if you see a bunch of very heavily tattooed, often shirtless Japanese men and women, try to not piss them off, and be sure to ask politely if you want to take photos. Generally speaking though, they're there to show off their strength – plus their tattoos – and thus seem to like the attention they get.


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