Torikoe Festival 2019
Founded in the year 651, Torikoe Shrine is located in Tokyo’s old “shitamachi” neighborhood near Kuramae and Asakusabashi. The shrine is famous for having one of the heaviest portable “mikoshi” shrines, weighing about four tons. During the annual festival, this Senkan Mikoshi is carried through the streets on Sunday to bring good luck to the area. On Saturyday mikoshi teams from the different neighborhoods near Torikoe Shrine carry their own mikoshi. The highlight of the parade is Sunday night after sunset when the big Senkan Mikoshi returns from its all-day trip through all the neighborhoods. The soft glow from traditional paper lanterns carried along with the portable shrine make a beautiful scene that sets this festival apart from other celebrations.
Access: It is a 5 to 10-minute walk to Torikoe Shrine from either the Toei Subway Kuramae or Asakusa Station. Torikoe Shrine is located on Kuramae-bashi Street (2-4-1 Torigoe, Taito, Tokyo).
Please note that it can get very crowded near the mikoshi parade. It is best to come without big bags. You are welcome to take pictures, but drones are forbidden near the shrine. It is also considered good manners not to look down upon mikoshi, because they house the Shinto spirits called “kami” for the duration of the festival.
Japanese festival foods from the street food market
During the festival, street food vendors set up their food stalls in the streets near Torikoe Shrine. The pop-up shops are called “yatai” and while some offer games, most of them are food stalls. Expect to find tasty food. Most yatai foods cost only around 500 yen or no more than 1000 yen for bigger items. Come hungry and try a few things!
Yakisoba are one of the most typical and popular savory yatai foods. They are fried noodles cooked with meat, cabbage, and vegetables and topped with aonori seaweed, katsuobushi flakes, benishoga ginger, or mayonnaise. If you never had Japanese street food, start with Yakisoba.
Takoyaki are small savory balls made with batter and small pieces of octopus. Watch them being cooked at the yatai stall. Street food vendors turn and form the hot takoyaki pieces with amazing skill and speed. Takoyaki are also eaten with a topping of aonori seaweed, katsuobushi flakes, mayonnaise, and a special sauce.
Other popular savory snacks include all sorts of skewered meats and seafood being grilled. Even sausages are usually sold on a skewer.
For dessert, try one of the many sweet treats. Bananas coated in chocolate and decorated can usually be found at every festival. You might also see cotton candy, called “wata-ame” in Japanese, and candied apples. Kakigori is also very popular in the summer. It is shaved ice with syrup and other sweet toppings. If you prefer cake, check for yatai that bake Baby Castella, mini sponge cakes.