From September 11th to 21st, the renowned Shiba Daijingu shrine will host its unique Dara Dara Festival. Known for its long 11-day duration, the event has gained quite a reputation among locals and travelers alike.
The ‘Dara Dara’ Nickname
Dubbed as the “Ise of Kanto”, Shiba Daijingu has historically drawn pilgrims from all over Japan. Due to the large influx of visitors, the festival’s duration was extended.
However, the cheeky Edo locals couldn’t resist giving it the playful moniker “Dara Dara Festival” because of its lingering nature.
The Ginger Festival
Another name that this event goes by is the Ginger Festival. No, that doesn’t mean a lot of red-haired folk get together for a shindig. Rather during the festival days, a ginger market is set up, adding a spicy kick to the celebrations (more on the origins of this below).
Mekumi’s Infamous Brawl
If you’re into folklore and history, here’s a fun fact: the famous “Mekumi’s brawl” apparently had the Shiba Daijingu as its backdrop. A testament to this tale, the shrine proudly displays Mekumi’s half-bell, adding a touch of intrigue for visitors.
- Bustling Stalls: Immerse yourself in true festive spirit as rows of stalls line the approach path, offering a variety of goods, treats, and trinkets.
- Mikoshi Procession: A sight to behold, the Mikoshi (portable shrines) procession is a festival mainstay. As the Mikoshi parade through the city streets, it’s a vibrant spectacle not to be missed. With various Mikoshi making an appearance, it promises a visual treat for attendees.
The Ginger Market – A Festival Specialty
One of the most renowned aspects of this festival is the Ginger Market. Local farmers from the surrounding areas would bring in ginger, a staple in Japanese cuisine, to be sold fervently within the shrine premises and along the approach.
Interestingly, ginger is believed to have detoxifying properties. Legend has it that during an uprising against the Tokugawa shogunate, poison was released into the Tamagawa Aqueduct. But, thanks to an elderly woman washing ginger in the water, many Edo citizens were spared. This tale has led to ginger becoming a highlight of the Shiba Shinmei Festival.
Drama Unfolds: Kabuki and Real-Life Brawls
The Kabuki play, “Mekumi’s Brawl,” is believed to have its roots right here. This narrative revolves around a firefighting squad from Hamamatsucho, led by Tatsugoro, conflicting with sumo wrestlers.
Tatsugoro, despite being deeply in love with his wife Onaka, is ready for a deadly duel until town leaders intervene, leading to a happy reconciliation. This tale, inspired by true events from the Edo period, has been portrayed in various plays and narratives over the years.
Shiba Daijingu, during these historical times, was vast. It featured attractions akin to today’s amusement centers, including dart and archery ranges, and even tea houses. It was a go-to spot for the common folk of Edo to unwind and entertain themselves. As the saying goes, “Fires and brawls are the flowers of Edo,” and Shiba Daijingu seemed to be the ideal place for such ‘flowers’ to bloom.
Plan Your Visit
September 11th to 21st marks the dates for the legendary festival at Shiba Daijingu.
If you’re in Tokyo during these dates, ensure you take out some time to be a part of this longstanding tradition. With 11 days of continuous celebrations, you can easily fit it into your itinerary!
- Festival Name: Shiba Daijingu Dara Dara Festival
- Location: Shiba Daijingu Shrine
- Address: 1-12-7 Shibadaimon, Minato-ku, Tokyo
- Organized By: Shiba Daijingu
How to Get There?
For convenience, the closest stations to reach the festival venue are Daimon Station, Hamamatsucho Station, and Onarimon Station. Happy festival hopping!
The Sum Up
If you find yourself in Tokyo during these dates, the Dara Dara Festival is an event not to be missed. Experience the blend of tradition, drama, and the unique offerings that make this event a staple in Tokyo’s rich cultural calendar.