Matsuri means festival. Shrines all have their own local matsuri. While there are many events and ceremonies taking place all through the year, the shrine’s main festival is the highlight.
The shrine is at the center of all festive activities. People come together for ceremonies and the parade of the shrine’s mikoshi through the neighborhoods. Mikoshi are portable shrines carried by several dozen people on their shoulders through the streets. It is believed that the deity of the shrine will come visit the shrine and go around the town inside the mikoshi for the festival.
Sanja Matsuri at Asakusa Shrine May 19-21, 2017
The Sanja Matsuri of Asakusa Shrine is one of the three main shrine festivals of Edo (Tokyo). In 636, two fishermen out on Sumida River found a statue in their net. The scholarly landlord Hajinomatsuchi recognized it as Bodhisattva Kannon, goddess of compassion and mercy, and enshrined it. Since the Heian period (794-1185), these three men are revered as deities and are the Three Guardians of Asakusa also called Sanja-sama.
Friday: Daigyoretsu Parade through Asakusa with traditional music and dance, Tobi-gashira Kiyari, Binzasara-mai, and Shirasagi-no-mai. Starting at 13:00. Canceled in case of rain.
Saturday: About 100 mikoshi (portable shrines) from the different parts of Asakusa come to the shrine for purification in the morning and are carried through the streets all day.
Sunday: The three main mikoshi of Asakusa Shrine are paraded through the district’s neighbourhoods from the morning and return to the shrine around sunset.
Location: Asakusa Shrine and surrounding areas, nearest station Asakusa
Official festival site with videos and map of the main mikoshi parade http://www.sanjasama.jp
On the same weekend: Onoterusaki Shrine Festival May 19-21, 2017
The Onoterusaki Shrine is dedicated to the scholars Ono-no-Takamura and Sugawara-no-Michizane and has a “Fujizuka” mound, a miniature Mount Fuji. Take a walk around and you will be able to see many mikoshi carried through the streets in the area around Iriya and Asakusa.
Onoterusaki Shrine, nearest station Iriya