Was hanging out at the Kanda Matsuri (Festival) last weekend with a few friends!
Lots of colorful fun in the sun! This festival is one of the “Edo San Dai” (Edo Three Shrines), which includes the Kanda Matsuri, Fukagawa Matsuri and Sanno Matsuri. These festivals are held every 2 ~ 3 years around the downtown Tokyo area and cover a lot of traditional areas from the Edo period.
The Kanda Matsuri is generally held around the beginning of May (this year it was held from May 8th ~ 10th) and is one of the largest festivals held in Japan.
The coolest thing about this particular festival is that it passes right through the Akihabara and Kanda areas, which makes it a beautiful and complete fusion of traditional Japanese style culture and modern age “otaku culture”, the likes of which you will rarely see elsewhere in Japan.
Japanese “omikoshi” (mobile Shinto shrine) festivals are very popular throughout Japan and each region seems to add it`s very own unique mix and cultural flavor to it each year. In Nagano, they have a similar festival which involves dragging a very large (full grown) tree up the side of a mountain.
But be warned, these festivals can get very crowded and are not for the feint of heart! The mobile shrine itself generally weigh about 100 kg for a children`s mikoshi, 400 kg for the adult one and over 1000 kg for the larger “Hakata-Gion-Yamagasa” omikoshi in Hakata, Fukuoka. Since these festivals are roughly equivalent to short pilgrimages to the Shinto gods in Japanese culture, the event normally last from early morning until late evening, with many people jumping in to carry on the tradition while ensuring that their precious golden shrine safely makes it to it`s final destination.
If you`ve never experienced this type of festival before (and don`t mind waking up very sore the next morning), I would highly recommend participating in whenever the opportunity arises. These festivals can be a lot of fun and are a great way to meet a lot of people in Japan!
There`s singing, dancing, food (and lot of beer) during the entire festival and festivals such as this one give you a very rare chance to see Japanese citizens really cut loose and let their hair down before busy working schedules and looming project deadlines shove them back into “worker-bee-mode” on Monday.
It`s really a sight to see and quite the fun experience if you ever have a chance to participate.
Check out the pictures for now and I hope to see you at the next festival!