Sanja Festival 2018 - shots from Sensoji
This was the first time for me to visit the Sanja Festival on a Saturday. After many years I finally got my chance. I had a great time and it actually proved an eye-opener for me. Traditionally I’ve always visited it on the Sunday, and that day runs quite differently. The only thing that wasn’t different at all was the crowd, it was huge as always.
Whenever I’ve been on the Sunday most of the exciting action, which most visitors go to see, takes place in front of Kaminarimon (or Thunder Gate). The Saturday which seems fractionally more sedate, sees most of the action taking place around Asakusa shrine and Sensoji temple.
From what I saw, some mikoshi (portable shrines) were carried through the Hozomon (Hozo Gate) to the rear of Sensoji temple where they waited. Others were carried in from different areas, but also ended up behind the main hall and waited. That area, as you can see in the pictures, had a huge crowd waiting there to support all the neighbourhood groups. With so many mikoshi lined up with nothing to do there were many chances to get photographs.
From about 1:30 pm, the mikoshi were carried to Asakusa shrine and blessed by a priest, before being carried out to start the tours of the neighbourhoods again. My spot at this point for taking photos was just behind the torii to the shrine. From there I was in a good position to see what was going on, maybe fifty meters from the priest, but when the mikoshi were on their way out, they passed only centimeters from me.
As I’ve said in previous articles, getting close to the mikoshi, in my opinion can be a little dangerous. They are huge, weigh a ton and carried on long poles by forty people, who bounce them up and down on their shoulders. So, if you have a camera and want to get close to get your pics, that’s okay and no one will complain, but you need to really aware of where people are going so as not to bump into anyone thereby creating a dangerous situation.
I wish I had stayed until the very end. The problem for me was that I had taken an enormous amount of pictures, over 1600 and they needed to sorted through and those that I wanted for this article had to found and edited which take a lot of time. I decided to head home rather early which I now feel was a mistake. Maybe next year ...