In Ueno, just near the the famous pond and the zoo, next to one of the gates belonging to Tokyo University you will find the tiny Sakaiinari Shrine (境稲荷神社), and right behind it the tiny ancient well of Benkei Kagami (弁慶鏡ケ井戸). The well, which has been famous for its sweet and clear water has been around for as long as anyone can remember, and it was certainly there before the Shrine, whose beginnings are lost to history, but which was already established in this spot in the late 15th century. The shrine has its name Sakai (meaning border) for being in the middle of the the border between two old towns or villages. It was built over in the 19th century but dug out again in 1940. The revival of the old well turned out to be a very good thing, as its water helped save the lives of many people who lived in the area during the intense bombing raids of 1945. One of the most famous people said to have been saved by the well’s water was the famous painter Yokoyama Taikan (横山大観).
Unfortunately, few natural spring wells can survive the infrastructure of a modern city and today the water is labeled as not for drinking, although you can still draw it, by the Sun Tiger hand pump installed near the old well head.
This Saturday sees one of Tokyo’s three Grand Festivals, the Fukagawa Hachiman Matsuri, most famous for being a mizukakematsuri, a water throwing festival. This year looks like it will be massive with over 300 000 people attending. It is one of my favorite festivals a lot of fun to watch or participate in. I took these photos last year during one of the minor days. Each year 54 omikoshi representing the different neighborhoods participate and the parade is quite fun to watch, especially when the firefighters and locals open up with hoses, buckets and bottles of water! If you are a fan of festivals and in Tokyo this weekend, don’t miss this!
It is Monday afternoon here in Tokyo and people are getting ready for the big typhoon heading towards the city. The rains have started and as I am writing this the typhoon has made landfall in Kouchi Prefecture on Shikoku Island.
All this weather is keeping me holed up at home and has me thinking of water, so here are some photos from one of my favorite major festivals of the city, the Fukagawa Hachiman Matsuri in Tokyo’s Monzennakacho district. During this festival which attracts thousands locals and tourists local shops and even fire fighting teams prepare water, buckets and hoses to do their best to soak the revelers in water.
The annual festival at the Tomioka Hachimangu is a grand event on normal years, but once every third year the festival goes into hyper mode and grows much larger than usual. The 2014 Fukagawa Hachiman Festival was one of these special years and the rituals and celebrations were massive. I could only visit one of the evenings and one of the days but it must have been great. The festival is also known as the water splashing festival and the streets of the processions are lined with shopkeepers and even local fire departments at the ready to soak the participants!