This annual event celebrates the 'three shrines' and sees around two million people flock to the city for music, festivities and more.
- When? 19th - 21st May 2017
- Where? Asakusa Shrine, Tokyo
- Price: Free
Is it your time to shrine? It will be if you're in Tokyo on the third weekend in May when one of Japan's biggest Shinto festivals - Sanja Matsuri - takes place at the city's Asakusa Shrine.
Held in honour of the three men who founded the Sensō-ji temple, three one ton sacred alters are paraded through crowds on the third day, supported by 40 men a piece. The trio of shrines (known as mikoshi) are decorated with gold leaf and cost 400,000 dollars to construct. They are jostled and bounced to intensify their good luck charm. Numerous smaller and inauthentic shrines are also paraded through the streets by women and small children.
Its essence may be religious but Sania Matsuri has evolved into a time for celebration. Over three days around two million people cram into streets that are filled with the melodies of flutes, chanting and taiko (Japanese drum). Yakuzas proudly expose their tattoos in fundoshi (sumo underwear), Geisha, a rare sight in Tokyo, appear around corners as do people in hakama robes and less conspicuous heron-hooded dancers. You can even catch a Geisha show in the Asakusa Kenban two blocks north of the Senso-ji Temple of the Goddess of Mercy.
So although you might not be the one in the limelight, Sanja Matsuri is an incredible cultural spectacle that's well worth a trip. Given its popularity you'll need to book accommodation well in advance but hey, if some of that good luck rubs off it's probably worth it right?
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- Get there: Take the train to Asakusa Station.
- Stay: Book accommodation in Tokyo's Taito City to be nearby.
*We do our very best to verify the dates of our events but please check with the official event provider before booking your flights. We would hate for you to be disappointed!