Festivals & Events
During the third full weekend in May, a hundred portable mikoshi shrines, stately parades, and lots of sake come together to create the Asakusa Sanja Festival. Join in the high-spirited atmosphere and celebrate the founders of Sensoji Temple at one of Tokyo's top three festivals.
Most events are centered around Sensoji Temple and Asakusa Shrine and can be easily accessed by train, however, the mikoshi parade around the whole Asakusa area.
The temple is a five-minute walk from Asakusa Station, served by the Ginza Line, Asakusa Line and Tobu Railway Line.
A true feast for the senses, the Sanja Festival features around 100 mikoshi, portable shrines into which Shinto gods are symbolically placed.
Neighborhood mikoshi teams then parade the shrines through the streets, vigorously calling out and jolting the massive shrines as they go.
This tradition is said to bring good fortune to Asakusa's businesses and residents. The shrines range in size from the three huge mikoshi of Asakusa Shrine to cute miniature versions carried by neighborhood children.
The festival begins with the Daigyoretsu Parade on Friday afternoon. A parade of priests, geisha, and officials all wearing Edo-period costumes proceed from Yanagi-dori Street to Asakusa Shrine, accompanied by musicians riding on decorated floats while playing flutes and drums. After a Shinto prosperity ceremony, the first portable shrines start jostling through the streets and the party starts.
Saturday is dedicated to the blessing of almost 100 neighborhood mikoshi. Visitors can start to see them carried out around noon for ceremonies at Sensoji Temple and Asakusa Shrine. Once the blessing is complete, the teams ramp up their energy and go parading through the area to bring luck and prosperity to their neighborhoods.
The Sanja Festival starts early on the final day when carriers from across the area gather at Asakusa Shrine and compete to carry one of shrine's three large main mikoshi. Things can get a bit heated, so for safety reasons spectators are not allowed through Sensoji's gates during this part of the festival.
Once the battles for those prized spots calms down, the gold-covered shrines are danced and bounced through Asakusa's decorated streets until 8:00 p.m., when the festivities start to wind down.
Throughout the entire festival, Asakusa is filled with food stalls, festival games, and the lively sounds of traditional drums and flutes.