It’s not very new anymore but I still make a point to go up to the top floor every time I pass, the new tourist information building in front of Asakusa’s famous Kaminarimon, the entrance gate to the huge Sensoji temple. I took these photos at the Sanja festival earlier this month, just as the dozens of omikoshi, portable shrines, leave the temple through the main street and spill out on the big scramble street crossing. It was fun to see it all from above, as I have been down there in the middle of it all many times, trying not to get trampled by the rickshaw pullers, the busses, the police cars and the omikoshi! I think it was the first time I ever saw an omikoshi from above like this.
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!
More photos of the great people of Asakusa as they celebrate their massive Sanjamatsuri festival in last month. Asakusa is recognized as the number one tourist spot in Japan with an unbelievable 37 million visitors a year, and 2 million of those during the three day festival itself. It’s easy to imagine just how crowded this relatively small urban area is. Still, one of my favorite aspects of the festival is just looking at all the fantastic people working so hard to make it a traditional and fun festival for all. What about these people pressed hard against each other carrying their omikoshi near Sensou temple? And of course the kids with their miniature, while just being pulled it must still be quite heavy as we can interpret from the frown on the face of the girl indicating her sore shoulder to her friend. I still have hundreds of good photos from the festival but I doubt I’ll post very many more, after all, we’re heading into festival season!