The Sanja Matsuri is know as one of the “3 great Shinto festivals in Tokyo” – along with the Kanda and Sanno festivals – and takes place on the third weekend of May. It is held in celebration of the three founders of Sensoji Temple, who are enshrined in Asakusa Shrine next door to the temple, and is said to date back to 1312.
It attracts over 2 million spectators over the three day period, beginning with the Daigyoretsu Parade, a large procession of priests, city officials, geisha, musicians and dancers wearing Edo Period costumes. They proceed along Yanagi Dori to Sensoji Temple and Asakusa Shrine.
When the troupe arrives at the shrine, you can see the performance of a dance called Binzasara Mai. This is a dance praying for abundant harvest and prosperity of one’s descendants performed by people dressed in splendid costumes while holding binzasara, which are musical instruments made of bamboo strips strung together. This instrument is played by opening and closing it like an accordion, producing rich melodies.
Please check in again in the coming days to find out what happens on days 2 and 3!