The Kanda Matsuri is one of the three most famous Shinto festivals in Tokyo, along with Sanno Matsuri (June 7 to June 19, 2019) and Fukugawa Matsuri (mid August 2019). It definitely should not be missed if you’re lucky enough to be in Tokyo during this time as the festival only happens once every two years. Spanning over an entire week in mid May, the main highlights are usually at the weekend closest to May 15, so this year the main activities will be on May 11 and May 12. Various events will take place around the Kanda Shrine and its surrounding neighborhood (Akihabara and Tokyo Station) over the entire period. During the most important part of the week, around 200 mikoshi (portable shrines) are paraded through the streets accompanied by a thousand musicians, dancers in traditional costumes, priests on horses and supporters.
Since its origins in the Edo Period (1603-1867) it has come to be a celebration of wealth and good fortune. It is also an opportunity for the local deities of each neighborhood to be carried around their area to bless the locals living there. The mikoshi who don’t exclusively stay in their neighborhoods all finally make their way to the Kanda Myojin Shrine on the Sunday, so a good place to watch from is the main approach here, although the whole area will likely be lively as the mikoshi pass. There will also be a day-long procession through central Tokyo on the Saturday.
Date: 9–15 May 2019 (main event on 11&12 May)
Image sources: Marufish, Flickr