Tokyo in Pics


A photography blog about Tokyo, run by Australian photographer Rohan Gillett

Sanja Festival 2017 - shots from Kaminarimon

The third weekend in May means that it is time for the Sanja Festival.  It is a big, wild and noisy event that brings about 2 million people to Asakusa over the three days it is celebrated.  This year, I attended the last day, Sunday, and with the perfect, warm weather there was a huge crowd in attendance.

Just outside of Kaminarimon, an omikoshi and Tokyo Skytree in the background

Actually, I didn’t get there till mid-morning so I missed the omikoshi (portable shrines) depart for the neighborhood rounds, but that was okay.  As long as I get to see the main action, which takes place on the road in front of Kaminarimon (Thunder Gate), I’m more than happy and that was where I took most of the day’s pictures.

One of the omikoshi - they weigh about one ton and are extremely expensive

I think you can judge from the pictures that it is a very popular event as that road and all over Asakusa is just packed with people.  What can I say about the Sanja that hasn’t already been said?  It really is one of those events that needs to be experienced at least once in your life.  Simply speaking, it is tremendous fun – a lot of people combined with a little alcohol usually combines for a good time, doesn’t it?

To be honest, I think the Sanja can be a little dangerous at times.  Those shrines which are carried around way something like a ton, so if they were ever to be dropped some serious injuries would surely follow, but I’ve never heard of that happening.  I think the main reason for the event being injury free is that the omikoshis have huge groups of supporters clearing the road for them, making sure everyone is kept back.  Having said that though, anyone who has a camera which is most people, want to get close to get their pictures …

If you want to learn more about the Sanja Festival, you can read this article on Wikipedia here.  Luckily, the event will return next year and hopefully I will finally be able to go on the Saturday!