Sanja Matsuri

(redirected from Three Shrines Festival)
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Sanja Matsuri (Three Shrines Festival)

Weekend near May 18
One of the most spectacular festivals in Tokyo, Japan, Sanja Matsuri honors Kannon, the Goddess of Mercy (known as Kuan Yin in Chinese), and three fishermen brothers who founded the Asakusa Kannon Temple in the 14th century. Sanja means "three shrines," and, according to legend, after the brothers discovered a statue of Kannon in the Sumida River, their spirits were enshrined in three places. The festival has been held each year since the late 1800s on a weekend near May 18. Activities are focused on the Asakusa Temple and Tokyo's "Shitamachi," or downtown area.
More than 100 portable shrines called mikoshi, which weigh up to two tons and are surmounted by gold phoenixes, are paraded through the streets to the gates of the temple. Carrying them are men in happi coats—the traditional short laborers' jackets—worn to advertise their districts. There are also priests on horseback, musicians playing "sanja-bayashi" festival music, and dancers in traditional costume. On Sunday, various dances are performed.
CONTACTS:
Tokyo Convention & Visitors Bureau
Kasuga Business Center Bldg. 10F, 1-15-15 Nishikata
Bunkyo-ku
Tokyo, 113-0024 Japan
81-3-5840-8892; fax: 81-3-5840-8895
www.tcvb.or.jp/en/index_en.htm
SOURCES:
IllFestJapan-1993, p. 56
JapanFest-1965, p. 152
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