10 May 2015

Matsuri, Shinto festivals will be held all over Japan in this season.  The most popular matsuri in Tokyo is Sanja matsuri.  Which will be held on the 15, 16, 17th of May. Tokyoites are excited to see or join this matsuri.  The main venue of Sanja matsuri is the Asakusa shrine. During the Matsuri season, all potable shrines created by the local communities will be gathered in the main venue. There are about 100 portal shrines. The deities of Asakusa shrine will be moved to the portable shrines only during the period of matsuri. The locals parade the towns carrying the portable shrines to entertain the deities and give the divine power to the locals.   

 

Luckily I took a part in the Fukagawa Hachiman Matsuri as a bearer last summer.  It is one of the famous festivals in Tokyo.  In the festival 53 portable shrines were gathered ate the main shrine. The unique characteristic of this matsuri is that spectators splash water on the portable shrines and the bearers. It is believed water purifies them. The festival stated at 7 am ends at 4 pm.  The portable shrines were paraded for 10km. The bearers should wear white shirt, pants, special shoes, and Happi coats with an emblem of the town.  During the parade they shouted “wasshoi” to cheer the deities and bearers up. Actually wasshoi means keeping harmony. The idea of keeping harmony is one of the essential spirits for the Japanese culture and its way of thinking. This festival has a long history. It started in the 17th century.  The locals still keep this tradition to cherish the local deities and maintain good harmony with their neighbors.

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