Shusseno Ishidan Matsuri is a biyearly festival held at the Atago Shrine. The sight of mikoshi running up and down the famously steep "Shusseno Ishidan" steps of the shrine is a must see. It is a very soul-stirring scene to see the mikoshi decorated with paper lanterns rush the steps after parading through the neighboring areas. This festival of showing appreciation for the past year is Atago Shrine's biggest festival.
The name "Shusseno Ishidan"—which translates to "the stone steps of social/promotional success"—derives from an incident during the Edo period. The shogun of the time Iemitsu Tokugawa gave out an unreasonable challenge for somebody to "climb these steep steps on horseback and fetch a plum". While the many liegemen remained there frightened, one Magaki Heikuro fearlessly climbed the steps, gaining fame as Japan's number one horseman.
Atago mountain—where the shrine is located—is considered the tallest natural mountain within Tokyo's 23 wards, giving the precincts of the shrine a different atmosphere than the business district seen just outside.
Furthermore, Atago Shrine carries blessings for fire and disaster prevention, prosperity in business, love and matchmaking.
The biggest highlight of this festival is the mikoshi climbing up and down the stone steps. The sight of the mikoshi going up and down the steep steps is truly thrilling. The festival comes to a climax when the mikoshi makes it to the very top—the crowd erupts with cheers.
Please climb the Otokozaka steps at the front side of Atago Shrine, better known as "Shusseno Ishidan". Each of the 86 steps are taller than usual, causing even adults to be out of breath as they reach the top. Once you experience the climb, you will understand the vigor and strength of those carrying the mikoshi up and down.
(There are steps that are less steep to the side as well)
The area is surrounded by Minato ward, Tokyo's tall buildings, yet the precincts of the shrine is filled with greenery—an environment much like that of an oasis in the middle of the city. Carp swim in the pond, making the space to be very atmospheric. The lush trees block the blazing sun of late summer, allowing you to experience a sacred tranquility quite opposite from the excitement of the festival.
・You must wear the designated Hanten (traditional coat) when carrying the mikoshi.
Hanten can be rented at the shrine upon contact with a deposit of ¥10,000 (reimbursed upon returning) and a cleaning fee of ¥1,000. Hanten are sold for ¥25,000 each as well.
・You cannot participate wearing shoes. You must wear Jikatabi (traditional rubber-soled footwear).
・There are narrow spaces in the shrine surrounding the mikoshi. Please be careful of pushing and shoving.
The steps may be slippery when it rains. Please be very careful.
Address: 1-5-3 Atago Minato-ku, Tokyo
5 min walk from exit 3 of Kamiyacho Station (Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line)
8 min walk from Toranomon Station (Tokyo Metro Ginza Line)
8 min walk from Onarimon Station (Toei Mita Line)
20 min walk from JR Shinbashi Station
Take the Toei Bus ""East 98"" (Tokyo Station South Exit to Todoroki) to Atagoyamashita bus stop.
Take the Toei Bus ""Shibu 88"" (Tokyo Station Yaesu Exit to Shibuya Station) to Toranomon-sanchome bus stop.