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Published on : Monday, June 6, 2016
The Sanno Matsuri is one of the three most famous festivals of Tokyo, along the Kanda Matsuri and Fukagawa Matsuri. It takes place in mid June in even numbered years, alternating with the Kanda Matsuri which takes place in odd numbered years. The Sanno Festival extends over a week and has a few events, but most of them are rather small. The festival’s main attraction is a parade that winds through central Tokyo over the course of nine hours on one of the festival days. The parade begins and ends at Hie Shrine, the shrine responsible for holding the festival. Hie Shrine enshrines the guardian deity of Tokyo. It is believed to predate the foundation of the city, and its kami (Shinto gods) have always been associated with the protection of the city
About 300 people dressed in ancient costumes parade through the heart of Tokyo including Tokyo Station, Ginza, and in front of the Diet Building. Consisting of mikoshi (portable shrines) adorned with a phoenix on the roof, dashi floats, people carrying drums, people on horseback, the procession extends over a length of 600 meters. You will also see people dressed as the legendary goblin called Tengu, characterized by a red face and a long nose, and believed to possess supernatural powers. The procession which departs from Hie-jinja Shrine at 8 o’clock in the morning does not return to the shrine until early in the evening.
During the festival week, you can also experience various traditions of Japan. For example, there are displays of flowers arranged in Japanese style known as Ikebana, and special tables and seats are set up in the shrine garden so that you can savor Japanese tea. You might also see people going through a large ring made of thatch, which is believed to purify the sins you have unconsciously committed in the past 6 months. The doll you hold as you stroke your body and pass through the ring is said to take on your various sins for you. Perhaps you will want to try walking through the thatched ring in the hope of spending the remaining 6 months of the year in peace and happiness.