Cheapo Weekend for June 14-15: Festivals and Fireflies

Carey Finn

Pic by chriggy1. used under a Creative Commons licence.
Sanno Matsuri. Pic by chriggy1. used under a Creative Commons licence.

This weekend you can expect a break from the rainy weather of late, and a chance to dry out those soggy shoes. Make the most of the sunshine and head out to enjoy some big festivals and other events happening around Tokyo.

The highlight of the weekend has to be the Sanno Matsuri (also called the Tenka Matsuri), one of the three most famous festivals in Tokyo. The whole thing involves 11 days of festivities at Hie Shrine, with a grand procession, the Jinkosai parade, on Friday.  The parade features taiko drums, floats, portable shrines (mikoshi), Shinto dance and exquisite costumes. It starts from Hie Shrine at 7.45am, winding its way through Ginza and down to the Imperial Palace, going on for just about the whole day. This part of the Sanno Matsuri only happens every second year, so don’t miss it!

If you can’t make it to the Jinkosai Parade though, you can still enjoy the other festivities at Hie Shrine this weekend (the festival is on until the 17th). Look out for the giant straw ring in the shrine grounds – stepping through it is supposed to be purifying. You can check the full event schedule in Japanese here. And if you’re interested in the history of the Sanno Matsuri, you might enjoy the exhibition that’s currently on at Arts Chiyoda. The entrance fee is 300 yen.

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Though nowhere near as famous, the Manto Mikoshi event at Sumida Inari Shrine on Saturday and Sunday is also worth a look. A colourful mikoshi decorated with lit lanterns will be paraded through the area at 6.30pm on both days. The nearest station is Kanegafuchi.

Out in Ome-shi, you can enjoy traditional masked and unmasked Daidai Kagura music and dance at Musashi Mitake Shrine on Sunday. A Designated Intangible Folk Cultural Property of Tokyo, the dance has been passed down through priest families since the Edo period. It’s usually only performed for the Shinto gods, so this is a rare opportunity for the public to experience it.

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If you’ve got kids or you’re a big one yourself, the Tokyo Toy Show at Odaiba might be fun. It’s a trade show with a difference – there will be a stage with entertainment for the little ones (including an appearance by the legendary Kamen Rider) and a kid’s park with toys for them to play with. Entrance is free.

There’s always something on at Yoyogi Park, and this weekend is no exception. The Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) is putting on a festival featuring – mostly – heaps of tasty eats. Expect exotic fruit, beer, kebabs, those ever-present baguettes and more.

Meanwhile the fireflies will be doing their thing at Yuyake Koyake Fureai no Sato in Hachioji. An estimated 2 500 fireflies call the place home, and you should be able to see some of them by the river there. Yuyake Koyake is a little out of the way, but entrance is free between 6pm-9pm until the 22nd. You can also try the Seichi Koen area of Yomiuri Land, where you might be able to spot some fireflies between 7.30pm-9pm from this Friday. Entrance is 300 yen.

Finally, don’t forget the hydrangeas at Hakusan Shrine and the irises at Horikiri Park and Mizumoto Park in Katsushika City.


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