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Shrine Time

May 04, 2015
Kanda Matsuri
Do you love a good street party? Well hold on to your hairpiece, Harry, because this May sees Tokyo beset with the spirited Kanda Matsuri, a whole whirl of celebrations running the gamut from incense-enshrouded shrines and traditional costumes, to parading crowds, lively musical performances, dancing and floats.

Dating back to the Edo period, and today one of Japan’s largest and most famous festivals, Kanda Matsuri comes around only once every two years, transforming central Tokyo over the course of six days with elaborately adorned mikoshi (miniature portable shrines deftly carried on the shoulders of participants). However, the biggest festivities are saved until the working week is done.

On the Friday night head over to Shinto shrine Kanda-myōjin to observe spiritual rituals calling upon the deities to enter the colourful phoenix-topped mikoshi that the festival is so famed for. The following day the sacred vessels – many weighing 1000+ kgs – are carried through the streets of Kanda, Nihonbashi and Akihabara by hundreds of local devotees dressed in kimono and hakama, and accompanied by musicians and priests on horseback.

With the procession lasting all day, you can get a good view along most of the route that loops past the Imperial Palace and Mitsukoshi department store before returning to the shrine, but to get the full experience, station yourself near the finish where the returning repositories are greeted with taiko drumming and dancing.

Still want more mikoshi? On the Sunday local neighbourhoods hold their own smaller processions with folk music and family-friendly activities. Dokkoi dokkoi dokkoi sorya!

12-17 May, 2015.

Kanda-myōjin / 2-16-2 Sotokanda / Chiyoda-ku / kandamyoujin.or.jp
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