My First Mitama Festival at Yasukuni Shrine in Photos

In 2016, I went to my first Mitama Festival at Yasukuni Shrine. It was very impressive. As Yasukuni is dedicated to those who died defending Japan, the festival is in their honor. And many people turn out to remember them. I can only say it is an experience. Without a doubt, it is one of the great summer events in Tokyo.

The Mitama is one of those festivals that you should visit at least once in your lifetime. At night, thirty thousand giant lanterns cast a surreal light over the crowd.  People in colorful yukatas are all over the place. Torii gates tower over everything. It is an incredible scene.

At night the mikoshi (portable shrine) appears. The people who carry it lift it high before its weight forces it down on their shoulders. They do it over and over again. It is hard and tiring, but the crowd urges them on. There is a short break before everyone heads to the main shrine. I can only describe it as a “crowd experience.” When you are there, everyone around you is a friend.

I had one complaint about the Mitama Festival at Yasukuni Shrine. There were no yatai (food stalls). They were banned from the festival a few years previously, as rubbish had become quite a problem. I missed the food and drink. But at least the grounds were immaculate. And that has probably made the cleaners happy, at least!

If you are ever in Tokyo during summer, the Mitama should be on your bucket list. It is a lot of fun. The festival is held from July 13 to 16 each year, with events going from morning to night. Hopefully, I’ll be able to attend it during the daytime too one year. For those wanting to learn more about Yasukuni shrine, click here.

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