- Views Matsuri Days (1): A Guide to Asakusa and the Sanja Matsuri
- The Sanja Matsuri in Six Key Words
- [2012.08.30] Read in: 日本語 | Русский |
The crowds, the clothes, the colors, the communities . . . We take a look at six of the key elements that make the Sanja Matsuri one of Japan’s biggest and most exciting festivals.
Ujiko: Keeping Local Traditions Alive
The ujiko are the local parishioners in each of the 44 neighborhoods that make up the Asakusa area. It is the ujiko who are responsible for the most important part of the festival: carrying the mikoshi, or sacred palanquins. Nakajima Kōta, third-generation owner of the local restaurant Asakusa Mugitoro, was in charge of festivities this year for one of the neighborhoods close to Kaminarimon, at the very heart of old Asakusa.
“I was a young man of around 20 when I helped carry one of the three main shrine mikoshi for the first time. It was a wonderful experience. I was amazed to see hundreds of people cooperating and moving together in response to the shouted instructions.
“A matsuri is essentially a religious festival. So it’s important to preserve the traditions. But it’s also important to give as many people as possible an opportunity to experience the fun and excitement of the festival for themselves. Soaking up the atmosphere is an important part of what it’s all about. That’s a big part of our job: helping locals and visitors alike get the most out of the matsuri experience.”
Asakusa Mugitoro (Address: Kaminarimon 2-2-4, Taitō-ku, Tokyo; Tel. +81 3-3842-1066; open daily; English menu available.)
- Other articles in this report
- Asakusa Samba Carnival’s Dance Extravaganza (Video)The Asakusa Samba Carnival has grown from modest beginnings in 1981 to become one of Asia’s largest summer festivals, attracting 500,000 spectators each year. With about 4,000 participants in 18 teams, the competition is fierce and passionate.
- The Sanja Matsuri: Tokyo’s Most Raucous Festival (Video)Of all Tokyo’s many festivals, none is bigger, brasher, or more raucous than the Sanja Matsuri, which draws more than a million people onto the streets of Asakusa in mid-May every year. More than 100 brightly decorated mikoshi are carried through the narrow streets in a flurry of noise, excitement, and local pride. Let these video clips introduce you to the magic of Tokyo’s wildest street party!
- Strolling Around Old TokyoThe spirit of Edo lives on in the Asakusa district of Tokyo, more than any other part of the city. Asakusa also plays host to many of the latest developments in fashion, cuisine, and culture. This article looks at some of the shops and restaurants that capture the essence of the neighborhood.
- Experiencing the Sanja MatsuriInvolving some 100 mikoshi and attracting crowds of well over a million people, the Sanja Matsuri is one of the biggest of the thousands of festivals that bring color and exhilaration to people around Japan each year. But at its heart it remains a local celebration, with its roots in the heart of the community.
- Japanese Festivals and the Annual Cycle of LifeThere are said to be anywhere between 100,000 and 300,000 festivals in Japan. Almost every community has its own unique festival, or matsuri, with its unique origins and special features. Matsuri enthusiast Yamamoto Tetsuya provides some background.