The Sanja Matsuri is an annual festival of Asakusa Shrine, located in Taito ward of Tokyo. It is said to have originated in the year 1312, holding a rich history of over 700 years. It is the biggest festival of Tokyo, attracting 1.5 million people. Asakusa Shrine is also nicknamed as the "Sanja-sama" (the noble three), and the three are Hinokuma brothers and Mr. Hajino, all of whom were contributors to the glory of Asakusa town. It is believed that divinity is heightened when the mikoshi is wildly shaken, and that the divine will prevail on earth as they are marched through town. 100 or so mikoshis gather from neighboring areas for "Chonai Mikoshi-rengo Togyo" held at noon on the 2nd day. The mikoshi parade carried by high-spirited men through a thick Edo flavored town is a sight very much worth seeing. Being able to sightsee Asakusa's nostalgic old-town atmosphere while enjoying the festival itself is a great point as well.
The "Dai-gyoretsu" parade through town during the first day featuring Ohayashi Yatai, Tobigashira Kiyari, Binzasara-mai and Shirasagino Mai, and are especially popular among over-sea visitors.
When the sounds of Ohayashi Yatai are heard, the town of Asakusa jumps up in matsuri-mood. What you especially don't want to miss is Binzasara-mai, Tokyo's intangible cultural asset only seen today at the Sanja Matsuri. Clad in fancy outfits, you cannot miss the men walking with their Binzasara (musical instrument made with many thin pieces of wood) praying for good harvest.
The only time that the mikoshis gather during the three day festival, is for the "Chonai Mikoshi-rengo Togyo". 100 or so mikoshi gather from 44 districts. After being purified at Asakusa Shrine they leave one by one for the Bancho-kai. The area becomes packed with each of the districts' proud mikoshi, the people in an assortment of matsuri costumes as well as all the viewers. It is a rare chance to see this many mikoshis in one place, and you will experience the excitement of the only rough and rowdy festival in Tokyo!
For the viewing of three mikoshis owned by Asakusa Shrine, you must come on the third and final day. The three mikoshis (Ichinomiya, Ninomiya, and Sannomiya) are carried out from the shrine during "Miyadashi", the biggest climax of the festival. The men packing the shrine wildly compete for the mikoshi handle. Over 3,000 men aim at each mikoshi, making this festival known as Edo (Tokyo)'s only rough and rowdy festival.
After the scramble, the mikoshis leave the shrine for its parade through each district. Yet each district gets the mikoshi for a mere 40 min. Known as the "shortest 40 min of the year", the carriers explode their energy on this very moment.
The mikoshi can only be carried by those belonging to the town committees.
Access to Taito Ward
Asakusa Station (Ginza Line, Toei Asakusa Line)
Address: 2-3-1 Asakusa Taito-ku, Tokyo
7 min walk from Asakusa Station