The Traditional Sanja Matsuri



2021.05.27 (Thu)

By Charlotte, long-term Tokyo resident & history-loving traveler

The Asakusa Shrine in Tokyo's Taito Ward holds a traditional festival called the "Sanja Matsuri" in May every year. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, last year's festival was postponed to fall, and this year the festival was held on May 15th (Sat) and 16th (Sun) on a smaller scale.

The Sanja Matsuri is one of the "Three Great Festivals of Edo" and is one of Japan's most popular annual festivals. This festival aims to honor the three gods, the Hinokuma brothers and the Haji, who are enshrined at the Asakusa Shrine. They are said to have contributed to the development of the Senso-Ji Temple. For each god, a portable shrine called “Mikoshi” exists in the Asakusa Shrine. The locals who believe in the temple's gods are called “Ujiko”. The Ujiko carry the Mikoshi through Asakusa, allowing the three gods to its streets. This act is called "Shinko". Ujiko intentionally shake the Mikoshi in a very vigorous way while carrying it. It is believed that by doing this, the gods will bless people with a good harvest, a good catch of fish, and will provide protection from the plague.

In addition to the Shinto rituals, the Sanja Matsuri also features the "Binzasara Dance", a dance resembling the rice planting event. This dance serves to ward off evil spirits and pray for abundant crops.

For more information and videos about the Sanja Matsuri, check out the link below!

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