Deep Japan: How to enjoy Matsuri in Shitamachi

Article by Keiko, originally published on Deep Japan

Ready for Matsuri?

May is the most comfortable month in Japan. Sun shines, flowers bloom and wind blows softly. However, in Shitamachi, May is the season of Matsuri, the summer festivals of Shrines.

Usually, the main events including Miya-Mikoshi is on Sunday. In the early morning Mikoshi is started from a shrine (called “Miyadashi”), goes around the neighbors and comes back to the shrine in the evening (called “Miyairi”). At Sanja Matsuri, Miyadashi and Miyairi are sometimes unsafe, because it is so crowded and people wearing Hanten are hot-blooded and go into a trance. I recommend to check their website in advance where you can meet Mikoshi. Besides Miya-Mikoshi, each Chokai (a small unit of town) has own Mikoshi. You can meet these Mikoshi on Saturday and Sunday.

Around a shrine, you will enjoy many Yatai (food stalls) and games. Try local foods like Takoyaki, Yakisoba, Yakitori, shave ice and Anzu-ame. Games like Yo-Yo-tsuri, Kingyo-tsuri, Wanage and Shateki are also fun.

In 2015, Matsuri are scheduled as follows:

May 9 &10, Shitaya Matsuri at Shitaya Shrine in Higashi Ueno
May 9 & 10, Kanda Matsuri at Kanda Myoujin in Soto Kanda
May 15 & 16, Sanja Mtsuri at Asakusa Shrine in Asakusa
May 23 & 24, Yushima Tenjin Matsuri at Yushima Tenmangu in Yushima
June 6 & 7, Torigoe Matsuri at Torigoe Shrine in Kuramae

In general, you can not carry Mikoshi, if you don’t wear a Hanten specified in each Chokai. So, make friends with locals!

Check events in Shitamachi at: Open new window


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