Sanja Matsuri, also known as the Three Shrine Festival, is one of the biggest Shinto festivals in Tokyo, Japan. It is celebrated annually in May and attracts over 1.8 million visitors from all over the world. The festival is held in honor of three men who established and founded the Sensō-ji Buddhist temple, Hinokuma Hamanari, Hinokuma Takenari, and Hajino Nakatomo.
The festival is held in the Asakusa district and usually takes place over the third full weekend in May. The activities center around popular tourist attractions Asakusa Shrine and Sensō-ji Temple. The festival is famous for its lively and vibrant atmosphere, with many locals and tourists dressing up in traditional Japanese attire and participating in various events and parades.
It is a three-day event that showcases traditional Japanese culture and customs. The festival features various performances, including traditional music and dance, as well as food stalls selling local Japanese delicacies. You can also witness the carrying of mikoshi, portable shrines, through the streets of Asakusa, which is considered one of the highlights of the festival.
Sanja Matsuri is a centuries-old festival that has been celebrated in Tokyo for over 700 years. According to legend, the festival was started in 628 AD when the Hinokuma brothers caught a statue of the Boddhisatva Kannon while fishing in the Sumida River. They built a small shrine to house the statue, which eventually became the Sensō-ji temple. The festival is held in honor of the three men who founded the temple: Hinokuma Takenari, Hajino Nakatomo, and Hinokuma Hamanari.
Over the years, Sanja Matsuri has evolved into one of the largest and most raucous festivals in Japan. Its present-day form was established during the Edo period, when Shogun Tokugawa Iemitsu commissioned the construction of Asakusa Shrine, a Shinto shrine dedicated to the three kami. The existence of this shrine helped to solidify the festival’s importance as well as its current structure and organization.
During the Meiji period, the festival was briefly suspended due to concerns over public safety. However, it was revived in 1947 and has been celebrated annually ever since. Today, Sanja Matsuri is a three-day celebration that takes place over the third full weekend in May. It is one of the most popular events in Tokyo, attracting millions of visitors from around the world.
It is one of the most significant festivals in Tokyo and has been celebrated for over 700 years. The festival is held to honor the three men who founded the Sensō-ji Buddhist temple, which is one of the oldest and most revered temples in Tokyo. The three men, Hinokuma Hamanari, Hinokuma Takenari, and Hajino Nakatomo, are enshrined in the Asakusa Shrine next to the temple, and the festival is held in their honor.
It is also significant because it is one of the largest and wildest festivals in Tokyo. The festival attracts over two million visitors every year, and it is known for its lively and colorful atmosphere. During the festival, the streets of Asakusa are lined with food stalls and vendors selling souvenirs, and there are parades and processions featuring traditional Japanese costumes and music.
For centuries, Asakusa has been a melting pot of people from all walks of life, and the Sanja Matsuri is a celebration of this diversity. The festival is open to everyone, and it is a time for people to come together and enjoy the festivities.
Celebrations and Activities
The festival is held in honor of the three founders of Sensoji Temple, who are enshrined in the Asakusa Shrine next door to the temple. The festival is a great opportunity to experience Japanese culture and traditions.
The festival features various events and activities, including parades, traditional performances, and food stalls. On Friday afternoon, a parade of people in Edo-era costumes, including Geisha, takes place.
The parade is followed by a procession of portable shrines (mikoshi) around the Asakusa area. On Saturday, various traditional performances take place in different parts of Asakusa, including taiko drumming, lion dances, and Japanese flute performances.
You can also enjoy food stalls selling traditional Japanese snacks and drinks. On Sunday, the highlight of the festival takes place, which is the fight between locals for the right to hold the Asakusa Shrine’s three sacred mikoshi.
The fight is a symbolic representation of the power struggle between the three founders of Sensoji Temple.
Throughout the festival, you can also participate in various activities, including trying on traditional Japanese clothing, making Japanese crafts, and watching traditional Japanese games. Overall, Sanja Matsuri is a fantastic opportunity to immerse oneself in Japanese culture and traditions.
Sanja Matsuri is one of Tokyo’s most popular festivals, and as such, requires a bit of preparation. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your experience:
Expect Large Crowds
As we mentioned earlier, Sanja Matsuri attracts huge crowds. If you’re not a fan of big crowds, this may not be the festival for you. The streets of Asakusa will be packed with people, so be prepared to navigate through crowds and wait in line for food, drinks, and bathrooms.
May in Tokyo can be quite warm, so dress appropriately for the weather. Wear comfortable shoes, as you’ll be doing a lot of walking. It’s also a good idea to wear clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty or sweaty.
Many vendors at Sanja Matsuri only accept cash, so be sure to bring enough yen to cover your expenses. ATMs in the area may be crowded or even run out of cash, so it’s a good idea to withdraw money ahead of time.
May in Tokyo can be quite hot, so be sure to stay hydrated throughout the day. Many vendors sell cold drinks, but it’s also a good idea to bring a refillable water bottle with you. By following these tips, you can help ensure that your Sanja Matsuri experience is a success.
The Sum Up
Sanja Matsuri is one of the most exciting festivals in Tokyo. It is a time when the Asakusa district comes alive with the sounds of taiko drums, the sight of colorful floats, and the smell of delicious street food.
While the festival can be crowded and overwhelming at times, it is definitely worth experiencing at least once. Whether you are a local or a tourist, Sanja Matsuri offers a glimpse into the rich cultural heritage and vibrant spirit of Tokyo.