May 5: Children’s Day Celebrations
May 5 is Children’s Day in Japan. You can see the traditional decorations put up by families for their children all over the city. The streamers dancing in the wind for Children’s Day are called “koinobori”. Koi means carp and if you look up you can imagine the colorful fish swimming in the sky.
At Senso-ji Temple in Asakusa the Takara-no-mai or Treasure Dance will be performed on May 5. In it the children of Senso-ji Kindergarten pull the “takarabune” treasure ship of the Seven Lucky Gods. The children wear costumes of the fishermen Hinokuma Hamanari and Takenari, who according to legend found the statue of Bodhisattva Kannon that is the principle image of Senso-ji Temple.
May 5-7: Shitaya Jinja Taisai - Shitaya Shrine Festival
This is the main festival of Shitaya Shrine, an event with over a thousand years of history. On Friday there is a ceremony at the shrine and on Saturday and Sunday it will get crowded when the “mikoshi” (portable shrines) of the surrounding neighborhoods are paraded around the area by the local residents.
Enjoy this “matsuri” (festival) like a local and eat at the “yatai” (food stands). They will set up in the streets surrounding the shrine. Some savory favorites are yakitori, yakisoba, takoyaki, okonomiyaki, and ikayaki (grilled squid). Sweet treats usually include kakigori ice, choco-bananas, and mini castella cakes. Have fun trying all the tasty matsuri foods.
Upcoming festivals at shrines in Taito this month:
May 19-21: Onoterusaki Jinja Taisai – Onoterusaki Shrine Festival
May 19-21: Sanja Matsuri of Asakusa Shrine
May 25: Gojo Tenjinja Reitaisai at Tenjin Shrine in Ueno