Tokyobling's Blog

Last Day of Sanja Matsuri – Asakusa

Posted in Japanese Traditions, People, Places by tokyobling on May 20, 2014

The last day of the massive Sanja Matsuri in Tokyo’s Asakusa district is when they bring out the big three omikoshi of the shrine itself. The different neighborhood groups take turns handling them and competition for the best spots get quite fierce. I am always surprised there aren’t more injuries when I see these portable shrines coming down the streets.

The original four omikoshi, dating back to the early 17th century were lost in the firebombings of the war, but three of them has since been replaced by more modern omikoshi about 60 years ago. The fourth omikoshi still hasn’t been replaced, and maybe it never will. This omikoshi is exactly 1000kg heavy but the others are slightly heavier still.

The police did their best in protecting both participants and tourists, but sometimes they were too busy saving themselves. Even viewed from a distance the ceremony is exciting as you are never quite sure where the omikoshi is heading. I am already looking forward to next year’s big festival!

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Sanja Matsuri 2014 – Saturday

Posted in Japanese Traditions, People, Places by tokyobling on May 18, 2014

Yesterday I visited the massive Sanja Matsuri (三社祭) and enjoyed a full day of festival fun. The weather was good (too good in fact, I look like a well cooked lobster right now) and the sun fierce. There are lots of different things going on all over the festival area that covers dozens of city blocks in all directions from the Sensoji temple area, the heart of the festival. I took these photos of a just very few of the over one hundred omikoshi teams that crisscrosses the streets of Asakusa for the duration of the festival.

The main impression of this year’s festival was the huge number of foreign tourists I saw! Just comparing with last year’s festival the number of foreigners must have increased at least two, maybe even three fold. I heard Chinese, Korean and Thai as often as I heard Japanese on streets, in addition to French, German and plenty of English! It looks like my prediction from earlier was correct: most foreign tourists in Tokyo this weekend must have been at this festival.

Today is the final day of the festival and also the peak, everything will get even more crowded and even more crazy! More photos to come!

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Sanja Matsuri Has Started

Posted in Japanese Traditions, People, Places by tokyobling on May 17, 2014

The biggest event in Tokyo of the year has started, the massive Sanja Matsuri drawing a couple of million visitors and participants during the three main days of the event. Today is the second day of the event and while I do not have any photos of this year’s festival here are some more from the 2013 Sanja Matsuri. If you are a tourist in Tokyo this weekend, chances are that you will spend at least part of it here!

But just in case you are not really interested in this event, there are still several other festivals taking place in other parts in and around Tokyo. Here are three alternatives for you to consider, but there are many more:

The Magatamasai (まが玉祭) at the Sannomiyahibitajinja in Hiratsuka.
The Shibuya Kagoshima Oharasai (渋谷・鹿児島おはら祭) in Shibuya.
The Kasayaki Matsuri (第57回曽我の傘焼きまつり) in Odawara.

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Sanja Matsuri People – 2013

Posted in Japanese Traditions, People, Places by tokyobling on May 16, 2014

The biggest festival in Japan, the massive Sanja Matsuri officially started last evening with a series of rituals needed to prepare the shrines and omikoshi for the festival. If you are in Tokyo today you can take part in the ceremonies scheduled for this afternoon, with various parades and dancers. Personally I am stuck with work and can not go there to see it for myself so instead I am sharing these photos from last year’s Sanja Matsuri. For a matsuri maniac like myself the Sanja Matsuri is like Christmas and Birthday rolled into one magnified by a thousand! The biggest events take place over the weekend though, so even if you are stuck like me today, you can still enjoy the festival during Saturday and Sunday.

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