Last weekend was torture and heaven at the same time for us festival lovers of Tokyo. First there was the huge annual Sanja festival in Asakusa with hundreds of years of tradition and 2 million visitors. Then there was the huge Ohara Kagoshima festival in Shibuya on Sunday with a rare chance to see a genuine Kagoshima prefecture festival in Tokyo! On top of that we had the once every three year superbly local festival at the Onoterusaki Shrine in Tokyo’s Iriya district, which is actually so close to Asakusa that the omikoshi from the two completely unrelated festivals could share the same border street without any interaction. Naturally I picked the Onoterusaki festival to spend the bulk of my time, because it is the rarest and also because it is so close to the much more famous Asakusa festival there were virtually no tourists at all. I think I saw one or two on both days of the festival, other than that there were almot only locals or people actually involved in the festival procession itself. In other words, Fantastic and just the kind of festival I am always looking out for. Here’s some photos of one of the omikoshi “docking” near the shrine on the first day of the festival. Many more to come!
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!
Not the first post on the fantastic Kurayami festival in Tokyo’s western Fuchu City, and not the first post on the very skilled traveling candy artisans, but I couldn’t pass up on this man! He is one of the amezaiku (飴細工), or sugar craftsmen, who puts up their booths in festivals all over Japan. With a pair of scissors and some simple wooden tools they create animals and creatures out of colored soft sugar. This guy was certainly one of the better I have seen and was popular with both adults and little children. If you are in Tokyo and want to see some really good amezaiku at work there’s a shop near Sendagi station, at the Dangozaka. Their creations are too beautiful to consider eating though!