Mainly in summer, a culture of festivals, with fireworks, mikoshi (portable shrine), and lines of food stalls, flourishes throughout Japan. Shitaya Shrine Grand Festival, held every May at Shitaya Shrine in Taito City, is said to be the earliest of the summer festivals in Tokyo's traditional downtown areas.
At the Shitaya Shrine Grand Festival, a mikoshi is placed on a “Dashi” (Japanese float), and the shrine is paraded through the city with the groups of performers called “Hayashitai”. Such mikoshi are viewed as a vehicle of the gods, carried by people or pulled on floats to honor the gods at festivals. A float bearing a mikoshi, standing three meters high, is a sight to behold as it travels through the streets. Many street vendors at Tokyo’s traditional downtown area set up about 140 stalls along the streets, giving the entire neighborhood a festive mood.
Built in the first half of the 8th century, Shitaya Shrine has a history of over 1,000 years. Otoshi-no-kami, the god enshrined here, confers business prosperity and family safety on believers. People bear mikoshi and visit shrines to receive these blessings.
Many people enjoy wearing a yukata, a summer kimono, during summer festivals. Come put on a yukata and enjoy the impressive mikoshi and food stalls to get a start on summer at the Shitaya Shrine Grand Festival.
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