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The three-day Asakusa Sanja Matsuri is held during the weekend of the third Sunday of May. Numerous portable shrines (mikoshi) parade all over Asakusa amid huge crowds. Most of these photos were taken on May 17-18, 2008. (B/W ones taken some years ago.)
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Sanja means "Three Shrines," dedicated to the two fishermen who found the Kannon buddha statue and the wealthy landlord who converted them to Buddhism. The statue became the object of worship that founded Sensoji Temple.
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They are deified by Asakusa Shrine next to Sensoji Temple. The festival's formal name is Asakusa Jinja Reitaisai. The festival's formal name is Asakusa Jinja Reitaisai.
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Kaminarimon-dori road is closed to traffic during the festival. Unlike other Asakusa festival processions, there is no parade route. The whole area is teeming with portable shrines. Kaminarimon-dori, Nakamise arcade, and Sensoji temple are main areas.
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On the second day (Sat.) of the Asakusa Sanja Matsuri at noon, numerous mikoshi (portable shrines) gather behind Sensoji temple, and wait their turn to depart for the streets of Asakusa.
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From 12:30 pm, amid a sea of people, the mikoshi leave one after another. 観音本堂裏広場に集合
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The mikoshi come from over 40 neighborhoods of Asakusa. 氏子各町神輿連合渡御、発進
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Mikoshi bearers
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A sea of people in front of Sensoji temple in the area I call "The Pit."
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The mikoshi is brought in front of Sensoji temple one after another from all directions.
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Asakusa Sanja Matsuri in front of Sensoji temple.
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A sea of people.
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This is what it looks like at the ground level in "the pit."
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This mikoshi is heading to the front of Sensoji temple. I followed them.
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Phoenix atop the mikoshi roof.
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Heading to the front of Sensoji temple.
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They receive their blessings, then leave.
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This is what it looks like in front of Sensoji temple.
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Meanwhile, inside Sensoji temple, worshippers who managed to squeeze through the crowds go inside the temple to pray.
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What it looks like from the left side of Sensoji temple.
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Left side of Sensoji temple, in "the pit."
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Mikoshi also depart the left side of Sensoji temple.
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Headband
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A higher view.
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The same man some years before??
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The mikoshi also leave Sensoji temple and head to the Nakamise shopping arcade.
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Heading to Hozomon Gate.
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After passing through Hozomon Gate, they enter Nakamise shopping arcade.
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Nakamise shopping arcade
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Nakamise shopping arcade.
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Never too busy for a phone call.
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"OK mom, I'll pick up the bread, milk, cereal, and natto after this festival is over."
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Asakusa Sanja Festival
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Heading down Nakamise shopping arcade.
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One funny old man took his bicycle right through the crowd. He was soon escorted out.
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Mikoshi for the kids too.
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Mikoshi drummer
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Festivals are tiring.
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The mikoshi passes under Kaminarimon Gate, a symbol of Asakusa. The giant red lantern is collapsed upward to make room.
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Area in front of Kaminarimon Gate
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Kaminarimon-dori road during Sanja Matsuri
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Quite a few women carried the mikoshi too.
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Festival music (drums and flute).
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Asakusa Shrine torii.
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A mikoshi in front of Asakusa Shrine.
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Mikoshi passing through Asakusa Shrine, right next to Sensoji temple.
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Worshippers line up to pray at Asakusa Shrine.
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Asakusa Shrine also has a stage for various entertainment such as an Asakusa geisha dance.
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And taiko drumming.
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Storehouse for the three Sanja mikoshi portable shrines.
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The three Sanja mikoshi portable shrines dedicated to the three fishermen who founded the Kannon statue. Unfortunately, the parading of these mikoshi was canceled this year (2008) because people always stood on the beams to ride on it.
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Taiko drummer
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Float for festival music.
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Asakusa Sanja Matsuri
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Asakusa Sanja Matsuri
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The Sanja Festival is known to have many yakuza gangsters participating. However, I hardly saw any this year. Perhaps because the three Sanja mikoshi were not paraded this year and they could not ride on it half naked. Or they were all covered up.
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Police watch the crowd on Kaminarimon-dori
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Ice cream break.
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The mikoshi rests too.
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OK, break time is over and they pick up the mikoshi.
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What it looks like when you carry the mikoshi.
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People are not supposed to stand on the mikoshi.
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Some foreigners also carry the mikoshi.
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Above the Asakusa Tourist Information Center is this clock which opens and chimes every hour. This clock is no more since a new building for the tourist information center opened in April 2012.
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Dolls representing three of Asakusa's most famous festivals appear. This is Sanja Matsuri. On the right, notice the foreign woman doll with blond hair.
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White Heron Dance (Shirasagi no Mai).
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Golden Dragon Dance (Kinryu no Mai).
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Ladies with flower hats
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The Sanja Matsuri also includes a small but photogenic procession of geisha. Tekomai geisha lead a small group of geisha and other characters.
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Tekomai geisha
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Geisha
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Asakusa Sanja Matsuri
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Panoramic shot of a mikoshi n front of Kaminarimon Gate. I was in a tight squeeze during this shot, mixed in with the mikoshi bearers.
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On the left, the mikoshi navigator refers to his festival map and schedule.
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Taking a break in front of Kaminarimon Gate.
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Heading for Kaminarimon Gate.
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Heading for Kaminarimon Gate.
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Passing through Kaminarimon Gate.
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Passing through Kaminarimon Gate. This group is from Kaminarimon.
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Under Kaminarimon Gate.
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Passing through Nakamise shopping arcade, heading to Sensoji temple.
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Nakamise shopping arcade, heading to Sensoji temple.
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Nakamise shopping arcade, heading to Sensoji temple.
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Behind us was also a big crowd.
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Crowded even along Nakamise shopping arcade's back alley.
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I caught up with the geisha procession.
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The geisha group at Hozomon Gate.
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Sanja Matsuri: Not sure if this is a geisha group or a kabuki group.
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They look pretty anyway.
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Tekomai geisha
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Sanja Festival
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Asakusa Sanja Matsuri
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Tekomai hairstyle
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Also see my video at YouTube.
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Drunkard on street
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Mikoshi and the infamous beer sculpture.
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The golden sculpture is atop the Asahi Beer building in Asakusa. It's supposed to be beer froth, but most people think it looks like doo-doo.
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