Tokyobling's Blog

Senzoku Shrine Festival – Taito Ward

Posted in Japanese Traditions, People, Places by tokyobling on June 9, 2014

The festival at the Senzoku Inari Shrine in the northern parts of Tokyo’s Asakusa district was a first for me, a very small festival which was unusually completely without much of what you expect from a traditional festival, the market stands, the food, the drinks. I didn’t see any of that at this festival. I arrived just as the omikoshi and procession was nearing the end of their journey, right in front of the shrine. I was probably the only non-local there to watch! The last weekend of May is full of events all over Tokyo, so there is a rather stiff competition to gather visitors for any of them.

The Senzoku district is quite small, and only parts of it were traditionally residential. In the old days half of what is now Senzoku was part of the famous Yoshiwara red light district, which has long since disappeared. After the war the place was the home of many ethnic Koreans and had a rather lively Korean market, but for the last 50-60 years it has been a very typical downtown Tokyo neighborhood.

The shrine itself is most famous for being the setting of the famous novel Takekurabe, written by Higuchi Ichuyo in 1895-1896, about local children growing up on the edge of the Yoshiwara red light district. In the novel, the children play in and around the shrine and a few years ago a bust in the honor of Higuchi was unveiled on the shrine grounds. You might recognize her as the face of the 5000 yen note, only the third woman to be featured on a Japanese bank note.

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