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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.
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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.
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I went to see the procession on March 18, 2012. Golden Dragon standing by to join the procession.
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The Golden Dragon takes after the "Golden Dragon Mountain" mountain name of Sensoji temple. 金龍山
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Chigo children standing by in front of Hozomon Gate. 宝蔵門
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Paper lantern out of the way at Hozomon Gate. 宝蔵門
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In front of Sensoji temple at Hozomon Gate, two portable shrines stand by.
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Making room for the third portable shrine.
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The third portable shrine is moved into position at Hozomon Gate (宝蔵門) for the procession to start at 10:10 am.
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All three mikoshi (portable shrines) ready to go at Hozomon Gate. 宝蔵門
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Festival musicians on a cart at Hozomon Gate. 宝蔵門
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Golden Dragon makes its way down Nakamise arcade.
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Asakusa geisha on a cart.
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Asakusa geisha
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Asakusa geisha
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Sensoji's Golden Dragon standing by.
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Sanja banners.
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Sarutahiko-no-Okami
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Asakusa Shrine priest.
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Festival musicians
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Kiyari workmen singers.
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Year 628: Two fishermen brothers find a golden Kannon buddha statue in Sumida River. The two fishermen were Hinokuma no Hamanari and Takenari. A wealthy landowner named Hajinomatsuchi heard about the statue and told the brothers about its religious value.
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Ichinomiya mikoshi or portable shrine No. 1. The biggest of the three.
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Ninomiya mikoshi or portable shrine No. 2.
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Sannomiya mikoshi. "Three Shrines," dedicated to the two fishermen brothers who found the Kannon buddha statue in Sumida River which became the object of worship that founded Sensoji Temple.
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Sannomiya or No. 3 mikoshi. The third mikoshi is dedicated to the wealthy landowner who converted the fishermen brothers to Buddhism and helped to establish Sensoji.
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The procession on land went completely around Asakusa from 10:10 am to 12:30 pm.
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The procession was led by the White Heron Dancers (Shirasagi-no-Mai).
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This is the baton twirler (bo-furi 棒ふり) in orange pants followed by the bird feeder.
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The bird feeder.
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The bird feeder.
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White Heron Dancers.
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White Heron Dancers. They didn't dance during the procession.
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Musicians
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Sarutahiko
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Sarutahiko's footwear.
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Samurai
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Chigo children
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Another samurai.
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Tekomai geisha dragged a metal cane.
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Tekomai geisha weren't in sync.
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Ichinomiya portable shrine, followed by the two other mikoshi.
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Ninomiya mikoshi
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Sannomiya mikoshi
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Tokyo Sky Tree is clearly visible from Asakusa.
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The dock on Sumida River where the portable shrines will be loaded onto a boat.
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Patrol boats stand by. There was a lot of security on the river for this procession.
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A flattop barge arrives, decorated for the festival.
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A tugboat hauls a flat barge to the dock.
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Barge docking at Higashi Sando Sanbashi Pier. 東参道桟橋
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A large crowd turned out to see this rare event in Asakusa. Sacred boat processions are not unusual in Japan though. Tenjin Matsuri in Osaka is a large boat procession.
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Ichinomiya portable shrine arrives and carefully makes it way down the narrow stairway.
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Carrying Ichinomiya to the boat.
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Carrying Ichinomiya to the boat.
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The barge carrying the three portable shrines were to have a few escort boats.
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This escort boat carried the gods of good fortune.
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This boat carried the White Heron Dancers too.
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This boat carried Asakusa geisha.
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This boat carried the Sensoji temple priest and Asakusa Shrine priest. Nice to see Buddhists and Shintoists together.
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Sensoji temple priest and Asakusa Shrine priest on a boat.
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Departing the dock with this tug pushing and another pulling.
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And the mikoshi are off on its first boat procession in 54 years.
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First they headed north to Sakura-bashi Bridge, then went south all the way to Ryogoku.
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Large crowds lined the Sumida River banks.
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Guide boat. They sailed to Ryogoku and back.
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Tobu train line and Tokyo Sky Tree.
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Priests on the lead boat.
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Flat barge with the three mikoshi cruising on the Sumida River. It has been 54 years since the last time this boat procession was held in 1958.
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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.
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The last time they did this was in 1958. The original Sanja Matsuri was actually a boat procession on Sumida River held in March 1312 (Kamakura Period).
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To reenact the boat procession, they had to work with very few records of the last time it was held in 1958. Only a few photos remained. In 1958, each mikoshi was carried by a separate boat.
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They cruised all the way to Ryogoku Bridge.
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Boat carrying Golden Dragon. They didn't dance on the boat.
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Boat carrying gods of good fortune and White Heron Dancers.
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Gods of Good Fortune on a boat.
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White Heron Dancers on a boat.
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Geisha boat.
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Spectator boats.
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Yakata-bune boat
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Police
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Where the mikoshi went, the crowd followed. They headed for Komagata Bridge where the boats would return.
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Waiting on Komagata Bridge where the three mikoshi would return from the river.
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Carts for the three mikoshi on Komagata Bridge, not far from Asakusa.
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Police boat
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Boats reach Komagata Bridge, the end of the boat procession.
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Going under Komagata Bridge.
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The mikoshi barge docks near Komagata Bridge.
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The mikoshi are carried back.
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Where the mikoshi go, the crowds follow.
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Intersection near Komagata Bridge.
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The mikoshi is placed in front of Komagata-do, a small temple for a Buddhist prayer ceremony.
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After the mikoshi arrived back from the cruise, they held a service at this small worship hall called the Komagata-do. This marks the spot where the original Kannon statue was first worshipped before it was moved to Sensoji.
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Inside Komagata-do.
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On the street in front of Komagata-do.
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The three mikoshi were then carried to Kaminarimon Gate in Asakusa at 5:40 pm.
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Musicians at Kaminarimon Gate.
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Ichinomiya mikoshi in front of Kaminarimon Gate.
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Ninomiya
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Sannomiya
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Large crowd wait for the mikoshi to be carried back to Asakusa Shrine via Nakamise arcade at 6 pm.
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New building for Asakusa Tourist Information Center.
 
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