Kanda Matsuri: “Mikisho” Shelters for Portable Shrines and Their Carriers

Guide to Japan Travel Culture

The Kanda Matsuri, one of Tokyo’s three great festivals, is held for about a week during May in odd-numbered years. In 2019 the dates are May 9–15. While it is underway, the many mikoshi (portable shrines or, more formally, divine palanquins) that are carried in procession for the festival are sheltered in temporary structures called mikisho that are set up in each participating neighborhood. At each of these shelters Shintō clergy perform rites to consecrate the palanquins with divine spirits (mitama). The mikisho also serve as refreshment centers for the neighborhood teams of palanquin carriers and as collection points for donations. They are operated by local groups dedicated to carrying on the traditions of the fire brigades formed by carpenters during the Edo period.

festivals Tokyo shrine