Sanja Matsuri 2009 at Asakusa

After hanging about at the Rei Ayanami-invaded Akihabara, I made my move to Asakusa. In truth, Asakusa was my primary destination, Akihabara was just a detour for me to buy my FireWire.

My friend Niklas had told me that a Matsuri (festival) was going on, so I wanted to take a look at it. I arrived at Asakusa at 3pm and already I could hear faint sounds of drums from above. The station was crowded with people moving to the exit, and as I tried to wade through the chaotic sea of humanity, initial curiosity giving way to excitement, I finally made my way out of the underground station and saw the parade.

I will now copy and paste Wikipedia's explanation of Sanja Matsuri.


Sanja Matsuri (三社祭, literally "Three Shrine Festival"), or Sanja Festival, is one of the three great Shinto festivals in Tokyo, along with the Kanda Matsuri and Sannō Matsuri. It is considered one of the wildest and largest.[1] The festival is held in honor of Hinokuma Hamanari, Hinokuma Takenari and Hajino Nakatomo, the three men who established and founded Sensō-ji. Sanja Matsuri is held on the third weekend of every May at Asakusa Shrine. Its prominent parades revolve around three mikoshi (three portable shrines referenced in the festival's name), as well as traditional music and dancing. Over the course of three days, the festival attracts 1.5 to 2 million locals and tourists every year.


Apparently this is a 3-day festival, but I was only there on Sunday afternoon, here's wikipedia's description on their Sunday activities for the Sanja Matsuri.

Sanja Matsuri's most important events occurs on the following Sunday. The procession of the three Asakusa Shrine-owned mikoshi begin their march down Nakamise-dōri toward the Kaminarimon early Sunday morning. These three elaborate shrines honor and represent the three men responsible for founding the Sensō-ji. During this final day of the festival, these important mikoshi are split up in order to visit and bestow blessing to all 44 districts of downtown and residential Asakusa. When evening falls, the three shrines find their way back to Asakusa Shrine in another grand procession that lasts late into the night.


Late into the night? Crap, I didn't know that. I assumed that they ended at 3:30pm, but I guess they were just taking a break. Here are the numerous photos I took.

A mikoshi being carried at the Sanja Matsuri

A mikoshi being carried at the Sanja Matsuri 2


As you can see, the streets are totally crowded.

Crowd at the streets of Asakusa during Sanja Matsuri


I wondered whether the guy with the camera is with the news.

Big video camera during Sanja Matsuri


Another team. Another mikoshi.

Blue team holding the mikoshi at Sanja Matsuri


I was mildly surprised that some who carried the mikoshi were women. There were some cute ones, but I couldn't seem to take any good shots of them. Gah!

Blue team holding the mikoshi at Sanja Matsuri 2

Mikoshi being carried to the kaminarimon during Sanja Matsuri

Green team and a small music float during Sanja Matsuri

Green team's mikoshi

Green team carrying the mikoshi during Sanja Matsuri

Cameraman at Sanja Matsuri

Little girl at the Sanja Matsuri

Young woman posing for camera at Sanja Matsuri


Seeing the kid with the fan made me miss my own paper fan even more.

Cute fan-wielding boy at the Sanja Matsuri

Mikoshi being carried through the streets of Asakusa

Light blue team and their mikoshi

Red team's music float at Sanja Matsuri

Red team's music float at Sanja Matsuri 2

Light blue team and their mikoshi 2


The parade stopped at 3:30pm. I thought that was the end (until I read the Wikipedia entry).

After that, some geisha appeared.

Geisha appear during Sanja Matsuri


The kid looks happy.

Little boy looks happy with the geisha


[Stating the obvious] Place sure look much livelier than my last visit, when I found out that Senso-ji does not celebrate Christmas. [/Stating the obvious]

BTW: This video, taken from last year's Sanja Matsuri, will probably give you an idea what the festival is like.