It is one of the three main shrine festivals in Tokyo and a highlight of the local Asakusa event calendar.
Sanja Matsuri 2018
Friday, May 18: Daigyoretsu Parade through Asakusa. The parade is a performance of traditional music and dance. The parade starts at 13:00, going towards Asakusa Shrine where it arrives at 14:00. The Binzasara-mai dance will be performed near the shrine at 14:20 and 15:00. Canceled in case of rain.
Saturday, May 19: About 100 mikoshi (portable shrines) from different neighborhoods of Asakusa are carried through the Asakusa area from morning to evening and come together at the shrine for purification. The local town associations have their own mikoshi, including small ones for children.
Sunday, May 20: The three mikoshi of Asakusa Shrine are paraded through the district’s different neighborhoods. The members of the local town associations take turns carrying the mikoshi. The mikoshi are taken out of the shrine at 6:00 in the morning and go around Asakusa from 8:00. At 19:00 they will return to the shrine.
You can see where each of the three mikoshi is passing through. Click on the map on the festival site http://www.sanjasama.jp. The path of each mikoshi is shown on the map, including its current position on Sunday.
The three mikoshi are for the deities of Asakusa Shrine. According to legend, the two fishermen Yamanari and Takenari Hinokuma went out on Sumida River one day over 1000 years ago. While they were fishing, the brothers found a statue in their net. The scholarly landlord Hajinomatsuchi then recognized the statue as Bodhisattva Kannon, goddess of compassion and mercy. A temple was built for Kannon. The men became the Three Guardians of Asakusa. Asakusa Shrine’s Sanja Matsuri takes place in their honor.
More about Asakusa Shrine https://www.asakusajinja.jp/english/
Many of the local residents are taking part in the Sanja Matsuri. Local town associations have been busy with the final preparation for the celebrations this week. The streets of Asakusa are lined with lanterns. Houses and businesses are decorated for the occasion. The streets have a special atmosphere these days.
Yatai food stalls are set up selling street food. For many visitors this is the most enjoyable part of any local festival. Many kinds of savory and sweet snacks are sold. You can find yakisoba noodles, octopus takoyaki, grilled fish, meat skewers, but also chocolate covered bananas and bite-sized mini cakes. A favorite on hot days is kakigori shaved ice. Try some festival food.
Asakusa is celebrating this weekend!