Asakusa Sanja Festival


お神輿を持ち上げてみます~ でも、重すぎて全然無理でした!>.<

In front of a Mikoshi (portable Shinto shrine) for the Asakusa Sanja Festival! It weighs almost 1 ton, and requires incredible teamwork for a group to carry it around the neighborhood!

Iwami-san, one of the fund managers at Whiz Partners, invited me to join him and his wife at Asakusa’s Sanja Festival (三社祭, Sanja Matsuri) held during the end of May. One of Iwami-san’s former colleagues, Yamaguchi-san, is a local from the area and has been involved in organizing one of the main attractions of the festival for more than 20 years!

皆様、三社祭に行ったことがありますか?石見さんは浅草の三社祭に招待されました。 石見さんの元同僚の山口さんは、浅草の地元の人ですので、20年以上にわたって、この祭りを長く組織しています。


Group photo with Yamaguchi-san and his mother at their home in Asakusa.

三社祭の参加者と一緒に写真を撮りました~皆様、お疲れ様でした!!男性の方は伝統的な服(半被や足袋や褌まで)を穿いてちょっとびっくりしました~ (笑)粋ですね!

Group photo with festival participants. I was surprised to see all the men in traditional Japanese clothes such as fundoshi (褌, traditional Japanese underwear), happi (法被, 半被) coats and white tabi (足袋) socks!

About the Sanja Festival

The Sanja Festival (三社祭, Sanja Matsuri) is an annual festival in the Asakusa district that usually takes place over the third full weekend in May. It is held in celebration of the three founders of Sensoji Temple, who are enshrined in Asakusa Shrine next door to the temple. Nearly two million people visit Asakusa over the three days of the festival, making it one of Tokyo’s most popular festivals.

The Sanja Matsuri features about one hundred portable shrines (mikoshi 神輿) in which Shinto deities (kami) are symbolically placed into and paraded about the streets to bring good fortune to the local businesses and residents. Smaller neighborhood mikoshi can be seen about the streets of Asakusa throughout the festival, while the focus of the festival, the three large mikoshis belonging to Asakusa Shrine, make their appearance on Sunday. For the entirety of the festival, Asakusa is packed with food stalls, festival games, and revelers amid a lively atmosphere of Japanese drums and flutes.



Together with a Singaporean friend Ciel, Iwami-san, and his wife, we attended the festival on Saturday, when supposedly almost 100 mikoshi from the district’s 44 neighborhoods are brought out in the afternoon and carried to Sensoji Temple and Asakusa Shrine to be blessed before they are carried back to be paraded around their neighborhoods to spread luck and prosperity. There were also many smaller children’s mikoshi as well as women’s mikoshi. ^^



So many people at the festival! To carry the mikoshi such a long distance, the rhythm of movement is very important. Watch a video by my friend Ciel (Singaporean filmmaker and producer, whom I also mentioned in a previous post on “Spring Luncheon at Singapore Embassy in Tokyo”) here: 

お神輿の前で集合写真を撮りました~ 皆さん、良い顔してますね〜(^-^)/ 普通のお神輿の重さは1トンまでですよ!小型車とほぼ同じで、結構重いですよ!人々がチームワークでそのような重いお神輿を担ぐことができることは非常に驚くべきことです。

Group photo in front of the neighborhood mikoshi! Did you know that each mikoshi can weight up to 1 ton?? That’s almost the same as a small car! The fact that people can carry such a heavy object with teamwork is quite an amazing feat.

Cute Sanja Festival themed lanterns were hanging in front of the doors of houses and stores during the festivities~



Incidentally, I went to Shinagawa last weekend to check out the “Kita no Tennousai” Festival. The shopping street along Kita-Shinagawa was full of roadside stalls selling food and drinks~ To my surprise, posters advertising for the 2018 Shinagawa Shukuba Festival featuring my photo from the 2017 Oiran Dochu parade were put up along the entire street! This was the same street that I paraded down with 4 other Japanese ladies as the first ever foreigner chosen to be an “Oiran” (Edo period celebrity courtesan figures, predecessor of the Geisha), and had the honor of leading the procession last year. Those who have not read it yet, do check out my interview with Maction Planet on my experience!

Poster advertising for the 2018 Shinagawa Shukuba Festival featuring my photo from last year’s Oiran Dochu parade!



花魁道中の出演について、前のブログを ご参考にしてください。


Also, take a look at previous blog posts on my Oiran Dochu performance:

Shinagawa Cable TV documentary clip: 


About Rachel

Rachel Leng is COO and Co-Founder of SeiRogai, Inc., a Tokyo-based business consultancy & media production company. Previously, she was Leader of Business Development on the Investment Management team at a Japanese private equity fund, as well as Policy Analyst at a top think tank in Seoul, South Korea.

As an East Asia specialist and former Miss Singapore titleholder, Rachel is passionate about the potential of media to educate and raise awareness about history, culture, art, business, and societal issues to enhance mutual understanding.

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