Tokyo's most famous and popular Buddhist temple and tourist attraction belongs to the independent Sho-kannon religion 聖観音宗 of which it is the headquarters temple. It worships Kannon, the Goddess of Mercy. Its trademark is the Kaminarimon Gate with a giant red paper lantern. The temple is lined with a souvenir arcade called Nakamise. The temple is the nucleus of Asakusa.
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Asakusa's elegant White Heron Dance is based on Yasaka Shrine's Gion Matsuri in Kyoto where it was originally performed over a thousand years ago. A depiction of it was found in a picture scroll showing a Sensoji temple festival in 1652. In 1968, the local Asakusa tourist association resurrected the dance. It is now performed a few times a year in Asakusa. I saw it in April 2010. Also see my video at YouTube.
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Yabusame or horseback archery at Sumida Park is held annually in April. Originally an event of Asakusa Jinja Shrine, it is now held as a tourist attraction. The archery course stretches from the Tobu train bridge to Kototoi Bridge in Sumida Park parallel to Sumida River. Near Asakusa Station. Also see my YouTube video here.
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To mark the 700th anniversary of Asakusa Sanja Matsuri Festival in 2012, a boat procession was held on Sumida River on March 18, 2012. The last time they did this was in 1958. The three portable shrines were first carried from Asakusa Shrine to neighboring Sensoji temple on March 17 where it stayed overnight. On the 18th, they were carried outside and a procession around Asakusa was held in 1312. The procession included Asakusa geisha and White Heron Dancers. They reached the pier on Sumida River at 12:30 pm and boarded the boats. They cruised all the way to Ryogoku and back. The boat procession was the original way they held the Sanja Matsuri.
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Asakusa Shrine holds one of Tokyo's biggest festivals during the weekend of the third Sunday of May. Numerous portable shrines (mikoshi) parade all over Asakusa amid huge crowds. Sanja means "Three Shrines," dedicated to the three fishermen who found the Kannon buddha statue which became the object of worship that founded Sensoji Temple. They are deified by Asakusa Shrine next to Sensoji Temple. The festival's formal name is Asakusa Jinja Reitaisai. Also see my video at YouTube.
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Held annually on Nov. 3 (Culture Day) in Asakusa, the Tokyo Jidai Matsuri (Festival of Historical Periods) is a parade tracing the history of Tokyo with over 1,600 people dressed in the respective period's costume. This is a complete guide to all the groups that appear in the parade. Most photos were taken in 2004 and 2005, with a few taken in earlier years. Also see my video at YouTube.
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Held during Dec. 17-19, the annual Hagoita-ichi Battledore Fair has numerous battledore stalls within the grounds of Sensoji temple selling all kinds of battledores. These are ornamental paddles with elaborate decorations often depicting geisha, kabuki actors, and celebrities. Also see my YouTube video here.
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