2018 was the first time I visited the Sanja Matsuri on a Saturday. I had wanted to do that for many years but work always interfered. It was a great day. The event was an eye-opener as it taught me a few new things. The crowd was unchanged, though. It is a great Japanese festival!
Everything at the festival involves mikoshi (portable shrines). On both days, they tour the local neighborhoods to bring good luck. There are about 100 of them.
On Sundays, the three large mikoshi that belong to Asakusa Shrine approach Kaminarimon. There, they are lifted as high as possible under the gate. It is exhilarating and noisy.
The Saturday saw the action take place around Asakusa Shrine and Sensoji temple. From what I saw, some mikoshi returned from the neighborhoods through the Hozo Gate. Others came in through different gates. They made their way to the back of the temple and waited. As you can see in the pictures, a huge crowd supported them. With so many lined up, there were a lot of chances to get photographs.
From 1:30 pm, the mikoshi were picked up and carried to Asakusa shrine where a priest blessed them. Then they restarted the tours of the neighborhoods. My spot at this point for taking photos was behind the torii at the entrance. I was in an excellent position to see what was going on. Only fifty meters, the priest was blessing the mikoshi. When they made their way out, they passed only centimeters from me. I got many good photos.
As I’ve said in previous articles, this even can be a little dangerous. The mikoshi are huge and weigh about a ton. They are carried on long poles by forty or so people, who bounce them up and down on their shoulders. If you have a camera and want to get close to get your pics, that’s okay. No one will complain, but you need to be situationally aware to avoid accidents. Don’t bump into anyone and create a dangerous situation.
I wish I had stayed until the very end. The problem for me was I had taken an enormous amount of pictures, over 1600, and I needed to sort and edit them. That takes a lot of time. So I headed home early, which I now know was a mistake. But that’s okay as there is always another Sanja Matsuri!!
You can read my main article about Sensoji here. Please leave any questions or comments below. By the way, have you been to the Sanja Matsuri? If you have, please let us know your experiences there.