Every year in late May the Sanja Matsuri (Three Shrine Festival) is held, and is regarded as one of the top 3 Shinto festivals in Japan. The festival celebrates the 3 founders of Senso-ji , the well-known temple in Asakusa. Participants carry mikoshi (little portable shrines) around Asakusa, while they chant, sing and play instruments.
It’s a really exciting festival and because there are so many mikoshi everywhere, you are guaranteed to see some authentic Japanese celebrations. Hang around and eventually one of the music performance trucks will come around, playing all sorts of old-style Japanese festival and folk music.
The mikoshi make their way around town, eventually passing down Nakamise-dori, the touristy shopping street that runs down from Senso-ji. It gets super crowded here, but the atmosphere is great, with everyone dancing, drinking and chanting. Almost 2 million visitors come to see the festival every year.
There are countless mikoshi teams who come to Asakusa every year to show off their teams power. The entire neighbourhood seems to have joined in as well, with kids playing musical instruments and grammas pushing the performance carts. The Sanja Matsuri is highly recommended for anyone who wants to see a real, fun Japanese festival.
This guest post is from Matthew, a blogger and writer living in Tokyo, Japan. He has lived cheaply in Japan for over 5 years and writes for Cheapo Japan, a travel guide dedicated to budget travel in Japan. You can read more of his work at www.cheapojapan.com