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Japanese Festival(Matsuri)

Japanese traditional festivals, known as matsuri in Japanese, are an important part of Japanese culture, and often lots of fun to join and see. In Tokyo, matsuri take place all year round, meaning you can usually find at least one festival in any given month. Japanese festivals are often marked by parades, food and game booths, and huge crowds of people. Matsuri are enormously popular in Japan, and its rare to find a small, quiet festival in Tokyo.

Sanja Matsuri

Description Sanja Matsuri starts on the third Saturday of May and ends on the following Monday. The festival is Shinto in origin, and takes the festivities take place at Asakusa. Sanja Matsuri technically starts on the preceding Thursday when the head Shinto priest at Asakusa Shrine performs a ritual to move the spirits of three men into the mikoshi (portable shrines) they parade around for the weekend. During the celebration, you can find traditional Japanese festival food and merchandise stands all around Asakusa Shrine.

Kanda Matsuri

Description Kanda Matsuri is held to celebrate Tokugawa Ieyasu’s critical victory in the battle of Sekigahara during the 17th century, and also to honor the god of Kanda Shrine. The festival takes place on the Saturday and Sunday closest to May 15th. Kanda Matsuri is mainly celebrated with large parades involving floats, musicians, dancers, and over 200 mikoshi, or portable shrines that people carry around for the festivities. However, Kanda Matsuri is only held on odd number years, as its partner festival, Sanno Matsuri, is held on even number years.

Sanno Matsuri

Description Sanno Matsuri takes place around June 15th, though the dates usually change from year to year. The key attraction of Sanno Matsuri is a procession of around 300 people dressed in traditional Japanese clothing, especially traditional Shinto robes. The parade proceeds around central Tokyo, passing by Tokyo Station and through Ginza. During the festivities, visitors can try traditional Japanese activities such as flower arranging and tea drinking. Similar to its companion festival, Kanda Matsuri, Sanno Matsuri only takes place during even years.

Koenji Awa Odori

Description Awa Odori is a dance based festival that takes place annually from August 12th to 15th across Japan. In Tokyo, you can see the festival at Koenji, an area of old shops and temples in western Shinjuku. The festival is said to have gained popularity when a local lord hosted a drunken celebration of the opening of Tokushima Castle in 1586. Nowadays, you can watch performers take to the streets to perform traditional Japanese dances. The festival is energetic and popular, so the crowds tend to get massive in Koenji.

Yosakoi (Harajuku Omotesando Genki Matsuri Super Yosakoi)

Description The Yosakoi Festival actually started in Kochi Prefecture as a somewhat modern take on the traditional Japanese dance festival in 1954. During the festival, dancers present choreographed performances to music of their choice. A common theme among Yosakoi performances is the use of naruko, or wooden clappers, that the dancers keep in each hand. In Tokyo, the Yosakoi festival takes place in the form of the Harajuku Omotesando Genki Matsuri Super Yosakoi around the end of August. It’s a two day event where you can watch performances in Harajuku and Yoyogi Park.