Things to do on a Trip to Kanda

by Luke - TripleLights travel specialist

Kanda is an area in Japan famous for bookstores and a huge festival. One of Edo’s Three Great Festivals, the Kanda Festival is also one of Japan’s Three Great Festivals, and attracts huge crowds. Historic sites including Kanda Myojin Shrine and Yushima Seido Temple can be enjoyed during a walk through the old style streets, 

Kanda

Things to do on a Trip to Kanda

(image by flickr.com)

Kanda has often been called the neighborhood for the genuine Edokko. The term “Edokko” refers to that urbane person born and raised in Tokyo (the former Edo) who has that plain-spoken and generous personality, but with the residents of Kanda who have plenty of that town culture of Edo, that temperament has continued to be passed down. Although treasuring the value of the old, they also have a fondness for the new. Indeed, this has energetically bubbled over into the identity of the “Edo-Tokyo” person. There are areas in Kanda which possess various types of scenery such as historical buildings, new office towers and a university, a bookstore street, a musical instrument street and a sporting goods area where the images of the neighborhood change greatly. However, it is only with Kanda that their co-existence isn’t anything out of the ordinary. The Kanda Festival held every May is an important one for the Edokko residents in Kanda. It is one of the Three Great Festivals of Edo that has continued on since the Edo Era and is even considered to be one of the Three Great Festivals of Japan, something that residents are proud of. The town truly comes alive then.

Even mentioning the word “Kanda” leads to a wide range of meaning. Close to Akihabara, there is an area where you can enjoy a walk through historic sites such as Kanda Myojin Shrine and Yushima Seido Temple, an area of cuisine from the good old days where soba shops and hot pot restaurants are located in old pre-war buildings around Awajicho, and a famous academic area of universities and musical instrument shops which also includes the beautiful Holy Resurrection Cathedral (an Important Cultural Property), a historic structure of Russian-style design that is located in the Ochanomizu neighborhood. In addition, there is an area around Jimbocho that is Japan’s leading district for old books and technical books which also has buildings with shops specializing in sporting goods. In this way, Kanda brings together the old and the new, and is famous as a shopping area responding to the needs of people with particular interests as well as a place to enjoy for tourism.

Bookstores Street is an area along Yasukuni Avenue in Jimbocho which has many book shops lined up. The bookstores that are not only along the main street but also on the side streets are mainly places specializing in old books, many of which also deal in antique tomes from the Edo Era. There are also old specialty stores which bring together ukiyo-e, woodblock prints, ancient maps as well as books on medicine, martial arts and science. It’s good to consult with the shop owners about the books that you are looking for, but it’s also fun to go treasure hunting for that desired book from that pile of old tomes. In the fall, there is the Kanda Old Book Festival in which 100 shops line up over a million old books. Attracting numerous book lovers from all over the nation, they immerse themselves into the search for books for the entire day. Nearby there are some modestly well-hidden cafes which are fun to find and enter. While enjoying coffee in those tiny places, opening up that just-bought book and resting those tired legs is a recommended “Kanda-esque” way to spend the time.

Guidebook from Planetyze about Kanda 
Reviews from TripAdvisor about Kanda 
Tours of Kanda 

The Kanda Festival 

Things to do on a Trip to Kanda

(image by flickr.com)

The Kanda Festival is a festival held at Kanda Shrine in the Kanda district of Tokyo. The 1300-year-old shrine was worshipped as the guardian deity for the streets of Edo during the Edo Era, and although the origins of the following festival are unclear, during the turbulent times in the year 1600, Ieyasu Tokugawa made it a standing order to pray for victory daily. When he did achieve victory, he was able to unify the entire nation, and as a result, Kanda Shrine received protection from the Edo shogunate. Since that time, a grand ceremony has been held at the shrine in the form of a festival related to the Tokugawas.

The Kanda Festival is held biannually in May in odd-numbered years as a regular festival done in grand style. Depending on the year, the schedule varies but it is usually held around May 15th and goes on for about a week with various events happening. This venerable festival from the Edo Era generates a lot of excitement. It is not just one of Edo’s Three Great Festivals, but alongside the Gion Festival of Kyoto and the Tenjin Festival of Osaka, the Kanda Festival is one of Japan’s Three Great Festivals which attracts a large number of tourists from all over the country. Within the festival itself, during the most exciting day of the Mikoshi Miyairi, 100 portable shrines pour out onto the streets from Kanda Shrine, and the sounds of nimble flutes and taiko drums along with the high-spirited voices of the people last until night.

The Kanda Festival was affected by conditions of the times through such things as cancellation of the float parades during economically tough times and war. However, in recent years, as the brilliance has returned, the pulled floats (hikisha) with their showy and large art works that appeared during the Edo Era have made a comeback, and with things such as the warriors’ parade and broadcasting the festival via the Internet, the excitement can be shown. Filled with dedicated events such as wadaiko drumming and nightly Noh performances, these various events which are in gratitude toward the deity protecting Edo are precious highlights with the knowledge of Japanese traditional culture.

Guidebook from Planetyze about The Kanda Festival
Reviews from TripAdvisor about The Kanda Festival
Tours of The Kanda Festival

Need help planning your trip to Tokyo ?

If you are interested to know more and save your time during your trip to Tokyo, You can send me a message to our local guides to get a customized itinerary and quotation for an unforgettable experience.

In the TripleLights website you can find the best professional guides all over Japan to help you plan your trip. Check our local guides for Tokyo


05 Oct 2015

Plan your trip to Tokyo

Chat with a local tour guide who can help organize your trip.
Get Started

Recent Tour Reviews in Tokyo

“ Loved our Tour! ”

Excellent
2 hours ago Traveler: Ralph -   Tour Guide: Toshi(T-chan)

We loved our tour with Toahi! She was prompt, easy to understand, and you could tell she enjoys what she does. Made our trip productive and enjoyable.
read more

“ Great day!!! ”

Excellent
2 hours ago Traveler: Sandy -   Tour Guide: Kyoko

We had a wonderful day visiting those places we had requested prior to our trip and also a number of iconic attractions suggested by Kyoko.
read more

“ Spectacular Day in Tokoyo ”

Excellent
2 hours ago Traveler: Diane -   Tour Guide: MAYUMI

My friend and I were totally thrilled with Mayumi. She was prompt and professional. Her suggestions were all perfect. We felt totally at ease and her knowledge of Japanese history and art made our visit very meaningfull. We concidered venturing out on our own and are so glad we decided to go with Mayumi. It was wonderful day full of great things.
read more

“ First Day in Tokyo! ”

Excellent
3 hours ago Traveler: Ammo -   Tour Guide: Atsuko

Atsuko made our first day in Tokyo an awesome experience, showing us around several key highlights of the city whilst providing background history, how to use the train systems, and other information which has made our following days alot easier! Thank you Atsuko!
read more

“ great guide through Tokyos beauty ”

Very Good
4 hours ago Traveler: Sandra -   Tour Guide: Makiko

Makiko met us at our hotel and guided us through different areas of Tokyo She is very knowledgeable and picked beautiful spots for us to visit Using the public transportation system with her help made the overall trip very enjoyable.
read more

“ A great guide for a great tour ”

Excellent
1 day ago Traveler: Samuel -   Tour Guide: MAYUMI

Mayumi has all the qualities of a great and professional guide: her punctuality, knowledge about Tokyo, flexibility and her sweet personality make her one of the best guide we ever had.
read more

“ "An Eye-opening Experience" ”

Excellent
1 day ago Traveler: Chai -   Tour Guide: Kaoruko

Kaoruko is the BEST guide we've ever had! She is very warm and friendly, super informative throughout the whole tour. She made sure that everyone is together at all times as Japan can be quite hectic at times and her hospitality is top-notch! Very passionate and genuine as well as being aware with our needs. Definitely would recommend her to anyone who is interested, you'll surely enjoy the tour e...
read more

“ INSIDE NAKAGIN ”

Very Good
2 days ago Traveler: Robert -   Tour Guide: Showcase

My partner and I enjoyed our private tour of the Capsule Tower interior. The guide was friendly, the English was good and useful information was provided.
read more

“ Nobu was Great ”

Excellent
2 days ago Traveler: Daniel -   Tour Guide: Nobu

Nobu was a great tour guide. He showed us around to some key places in the Tokyo area. Fun day with a knowledgeable and neat guide.
read more

“ Wonderful! ”

Excellent
2 days ago Traveler: Nicole -   Tour Guide: Makiko

We spent the day with Makiko and she tailored our trip to all the sites we were interested in seeing and adjusted our trip based on the weather. She also made great suggestions about other places we should see/things to do on our other days in Tokyo. We highly recommend her and it was such a pleasure meeting her.
read more

Related cities

Plan your trip to Tokyo

Chat with a local tour guide who can help organize your trip.
Get Started