The Sanja Matsuri is known as one of the “3 Great Shinto Festivals in Tokyo” — along with the Kanda and Sanno festivals. It takes place every year over the third weekend of May.
This is one of Tokyo’s rowdier festivals. Some two million spectators typically turn up to watch rather energetic, sometimes tattooed gentlemen doing what can most accurately be described as “mikoshi jousting.” Whereas in other festivals the mikoshi (portable shrine) bearers may bounce the incredibly heavy mikoshi, during the Sanja Matsuri, fundoshi-clad (like a loin cloth) participants often ride on the top and will try to knock opponents off — even though this is strictly prohibited.
Sunday is the most chaotic and exciting day of the festival, but also the busiest and longest. Traffic regulations will be in place on this day.
May 19 (Fri.)
- 13:00: A long procession, which includes dancing and traditional floats, will take place. They’ll set off from just north of Sensōji Temple and making their way past Asakusa Station (Tsukuba Exp.) before going down Nakamise Street and arriving at Asakusa Shrine.
- 14:20: A special dance will be held at Asakusa Shrine to celebrate the arrival of the procession.
May 20 (Sat.)
- From noon: Local mikoshi will be paraded from Asakusa Shrine.
- 16:00: There will be a shrine maiden dance performance.
May 21 (Sun.)
- 08:00–20:00: From early in the morning, the mikoshi will parade around Asakusa and the shrine. If you want to get a good spot, try and make sense of the route maps provided on the website.
- 14:00–16:00: Expect shrine maiden dancing and drum performances at Asakusa Shrine.