Sanja Matsuri – 100 Mikoshi Parade

The second day of the Sanja festival is when all the local mikoshi are carried to Asakusa shrine

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and then next-door Sensoji temple to be blessed

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before then dispersing to their various local neighborhoods, and is hence called the 100 Mikoshi Parade.

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I don’t know exactly how many mikoshi actually take part, but the parade seemed to be endless! It was also absolutely heaving with people – after seeing today’s crowds, I can  well believe that over 2 million people attend the Sanja!

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You can just imagine how hard it must be for the guys carrying the mikoshi to have to make their way through all those people!

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But when they are parked at the back of the temple grounds waiting their turn, you can really get up close to admire their beauty and the craftsmanship that has gone into making them…

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The funny thing is that once they start their parade through their local districts, the crowds completely peer out – although there is still a large entourage of cheerleaders and local families coming to provide moral support…

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Of course, its also the best time to check out all the characters! This part of Tokyo is very, very working class, so lots of shady characters!

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But its a good time to catch up with your mates

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and share a laugh

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In fact, one of things that makes the festival so fun is the party mood – everybody is drinking and having fun when they are not carrying their mikoshi, and they’ll plonk themselves down anywhere they can, be it at the local restaurant…

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Or just on the pavement…

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Before its back to the hard work…

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Although for some its clearly all a bit too much!

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Of course, the kids are totally involved and having loads of fun!

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However, I was terribly disappointed to see only two guys openly showing off their tattoos.

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Because Asakusabashi is so working class, its also a hotbed for the Yakuza (Japanese mafia), and one of the traditional highlights of the second day of the Sanja was seeing them proudly strip down to show off their infamous tattoos to the crowds. Clearly, the Japanese authorities, fearing that they give a poor image to the country, have told organisers to ensure tattoos are kept well covered up! A real shame!

But it was still a fantastic event to go to and, despite the hordes, unbelievably photogentic!

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