Sanja Festival

Asakusa Sanja Festival: A Celebration of Tradition and Spirituality in Tokyo


The Asakusa Sanja Festival is a vibrant and lively three-day event that takes place in early summer at the Asakusa Shrine in Tokyo. It is considered one of Tokyo’s top three festivals and attracts thousands of visitors every year. The festival showcases the rich cultural heritage of japan and offers a unique opportunity to immerse oneself in the traditional customs and rituals of the country. In this article, we will delve into the various aspects of the festival, including its history, main events, and how to get there.

History of the Asakusa Sanja Festival

The origins of the Asakusa Sanja Festival can be traced back to the Edo period, which lasted from 1603 to 1868. During this time, Asakusa emerged as a popular entertainment district in Tokyo, known for its theaters, geisha houses, and bustling street markets. The festival was initially held to honor the three founders of Sensoji Temple, which is located adjacent to Asakusa Shrine. These founders, known as Hinokuma Hamanari, Takenari, and Hajino Nakatomo, are believed to have discovered a golden statue of the Buddhist deity Kannon in the nearby Sumida River.

Over the years, the festival evolved into a grand celebration of the local community, with mikoshi (portable shrines) parades, traditional performances, and offerings to the gods. Today, the Asakusa Sanja Festival is not only a religious event but also a symbol of unity and pride for the people of Asakusa.

Main Events of the Festival

The Asakusa Sanja Festival spans three days, each with its own unique events and activities. Let’s take a closer look at what you can expect to see and experience during this exciting festival.

Friday Events: Daigyoretsu Parade

The festival kicks off on Friday afternoon with the Daigyoretsu Parade. This parade features a colorful procession of priests, geisha, and officials dressed in Edo-period costumes. They march from Yanagi-dori Street to Asakusa Shrine, accompanied by musicians playing traditional flutes and drums on decorated floats. The parade is a spectacle to behold, with its vibrant costumes, lively music, and energetic atmosphere. It sets the stage for the festivities that follow in the days to come.

Saturday Events: Blessing of the Neighborhood Mikoshi

Saturday is dedicated to the blessing of nearly 100 neighborhood mikoshi. These mikoshi are portable shrines that house Shinto gods symbolically. The day begins with ceremonies at Sensoji Temple and Asakusa Shrine, where the mikoshi teams gather to receive blessings for a successful procession. Once the blessings are complete, the teams take to the streets, parading their mikoshi through the Asakusa neighborhood. The sight of these beautifully adorned shrines, carried by enthusiastic participants, is a testament to the devotion and spirit of the community.

Sunday Events: Carrying the Main Mikoshi

The highlight of the festival takes place on Sunday, when carriers from all over the area gather at Asakusa Shrine to compete for the honor of carrying one of the shrine’s three large main mikoshi. This competition can get quite intense, as the carriers vie for the chance to demonstrate their strength and dedication. Spectators are not allowed through Sensoji’s gates during this part of the festival due to safety reasons. Once the competition concludes, the gold-covered shrines are danced and bounced through the streets of Asakusa until 8:00 p.m., creating a mesmerizing sight for all to behold.

Throughout the Festival: Food Stalls, Games, and Music

In addition to the main events, the Asakusa Sanja Festival offers a wide array of food stalls, festival games, and live performances. Visitors can indulge in a variety of traditional Japanese street food, such as takoyaki (octopus balls), yakisoba (fried noodles), and taiyaki (fish-shaped pastries filled with sweet red bean paste). The festival grounds are also filled with game stalls where you can test your skills and win prizes. The lively sounds of traditional drums and flutes fill the air, adding to the festive atmosphere of the event.

How to Get There

The Asakusa Shrine and Sensoji Temple, the main venues of the Asakusa Sanja Festival, are easily accessible by train. Asakusa Shrine is a seven-minute walk from Asakusa Station, which is served by the Ginza Line, Asakusa Line, and Tobu Railway Line. It is recommended to use public transportation as parking spaces in the area are limited.


The Asakusa Sanja Festival is a celebration of tradition, spirituality, and community. It offers a unique opportunity to witness and participate in age-old customs and rituals that have been passed down through generations. The festival’s vibrant atmosphere, colorful parades, and lively performances create an unforgettable experience for both locals and visitors alike. Whether you are interested in religious ceremonies, cultural festivities, or simply immersing yourself in the lively ambiance of a traditional Japanese festival, the Asakusa Sanja Festival is an event not to be missed. Make sure to mark your calendars and join in the high-spirited celebration of Tokyo’s rich cultural heritage.

Address And Maps Location:

2-3-1 Asakusa, Taito-ku, Tokyo-to

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