The weekend saw one of the biggest festivals in Japan, Asakusa’s famous Sanja Matsuri. From Friday to Sunday, early morning to late night hundreds of omikoshi, portable shrines, criss cross the streets of Asakusa carried by tens of thousands of people. It’s one of these once in a life time spectacles! Although Asakusa is mostly famous for the huge buddhist temple there, there is also a smaller shrine called Asakusa Jinja just next to it, and some of the omikoshi representing the different neighborhoods make a point of visiting it. I followed the noise and the chanting of one omikoshi to reach the shrine. It turned out I was just in time to catch the last of the Nouraku plays, an ancient Japanese art form that has survived the millennia basically unchanged. More photos of that to come later!
Starting on Friday and ending in the grand finale on Sunday, today, is the huge Sanja Matsuri, probably the biggest festival in Tokyo. Among all the hundreds of thousands (actually about 2 million people over the three days) I spotted these two, looking great in a quiet corner of Sensoji Temple. Even dogs dress in their finest on these important days!
At the Shirasaginomai, White Egret Dance, in Tokyo’s Asakusa district last month I saw these adorable little pre-schoolers taking part in the pre-ceremony parade. The kids were followed by adults in charge of the ceremony and then the dancers. The next full ceremony is sceduled for November, so if you are in town, you’ll know where to go!
A couple of weeks ago I saw these two wonderfully dressed up girls taking part in the annual oiran parade in Tokyo’s Asakusa district. You might remember my post about the much bigger oiran parade in Kitashinagawa last year, where I wrote more about the history of the oiran women of old Edo. These girls took on the part of maids to the older oiran and the parade is meant to reenact the oiran ritual of going out to visit a customer at a restaurant. Real oiran (which were the predecessor of the much more famous geisha) haven’t been seen on the streets of Edo (or Tokyo) since the 18th century and even then they were considered old fashioned.
These two maids did great in the cold weather and intense sun of this unusually sunny day. It is very difficult to take good photos when there is too much or too little light though! I hope you don’t mind.