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Feel the Festive Atmosphere at Shitaya Shrine's Grand Festival



2023.05.04 (Thu)

By Dan Lewis, inbound tourism adviser and consultant, long-term Japan resident & outdoor activity enthusiast.

If you're looking for a unique cultural experience in Tokyo, look no further than Shitaya Shrine, the city's oldest Inari shrine. Founded in 730, the shrine has a rich history that includes being the birthplace of yose, a type of traditional Japanese comedy performance.

After being destroyed in the Great Kanto Earthquake, the shrine was rebuilt and now features a stunning ceiling painting by the famous Japanese painter Yokoyama Taikan. This beautiful pavilion is a must see for anyone interested in Japanese art and culture.

One of the best times to visit Shitaya Shrine is during the annual Shitaya Shrine Grand Festival, usually held in May. This festival has over 1,000 years of history and includes a parade of portable shrines, traditional performances, and more than 140 open-air vendors.

The festival is a fantastic opportunity to experience traditional Japanese culture and see locals celebrate their heritage. The 2023 Grand Festival will be held May 11-14, and will include the Grand Festival Ceremony, a portable shrine parade by the city government, and several parades by various towns. A unique feature of this festival is that the mikoshi are carried differently depending on the year. In even years, groups carry them by hand, while in odd years they are carried on dollies.

The festival is filled with the aroma of sizzling yakitori, frying takoyaki, and simmering oden sold by yatai food stalls that flank both sides of the narrow streets. Lively crowds and the shouts of vendors add to the excitement, making it an unforgettable experience for all.

Japanese culture? Check. History, art and entertainment? Check. Delicious food? Check. Shitaya Shrine's Grand Festival is not to be missed!

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