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Friday, May 15, 2009

Asakusa set for a wild matsuri weekend

Staff writer

Fans of the massive Sanja Matsuri (festival), held each year in Asakusa, Tokyo, will be relieved to know that this year Asakusa Shrine has relented and agreed to let residents' groups carry their three sacred mikoshi (portable shrines) in the customary parade through the local area.

News photo
The big one: Sanja Matsuri takes place on May 16 and 17. AP PHOTO

Last year, in reaction to a series of incidents in which overexcited participants climbed on top of the mikoshi (as opposed to just carrying them on their shoulders), the shrine refused to let their mikoshi be used in the festivities. That made for a far more subdued edition of the event.

This year, the festival will be back to its boisterous self, albeit with a stern warning from organizers that no kind of "mikoshi surfing" whatsoever will be permitted. Renovation work at the shrine will also mean that the public will not be allowed within the temple grounds.

The main parade, featuring the three Asakusa Shrine mikoshi, will be held on Sunday, May 17, between 8 a.m. and about 8:30 p.m. On the Saturday, there will also be three separate parades featuring a total of 44 mikoshi owned by the various local town associations in the area. Those parades, also starting from around Asakusa Shrine, will be staggered, with the first departing at around 12:30 p.m.

For further details, see www.sanjasama.jp

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