Yesterday I joined Kanda Matsuri, one of the 3 largest festivals in Japan.
This is a picture of one of the mikoshis I took yesterday.
Kanda Matsuri has its origin from a long long time ago, it became a large festival during the edo era. In 1600, Ieyasu Tokugawa asked Kanda Myojin temple to pray for victory when he was about to fight against Kagekatsu Uesugi, and also when he fought against Mitsunari Ishida at Sekigahara battle. Then, on 9/15 - the very day of Kanda Festival - , Ieyasu won the battle and was able to rein the whole country. Ieyasu was very grateful for the Kanda Myojin and made a big donation to make the Kanda Matsuri big and successful. Even after that, Kanda Matsuri meant a lot to the Edo Bakufu(feudal regime of Japan established by Tokugawa Ieyasu), from 1617, Edo Bakufu funded some of the cost to create/repair the mikoshis, and from 1688 Kanda Matsuri was allowed to enter the Edo Castle which enabled the Shoguns to watch them.
Kanda Matsuri's schedule for this year is as follows:
5/7 sacred music performance to welcome the god
5/8 gods enter each mikoshi
5/9 mikoshi will be carried around Kanda, Nihonbashi, Oote, Marunouchi and Akihabara area in Tokyo
5/10 Mikoshi goes back into the temple
5/14 tea ceremony and noh performance
5/15 reitaisai festival
Yesterday was one of the highlights as the mikoshis were carried around the town. Because Kanda Myojin is ujigami (temple that protects the area) of Akihabara, the old and traditional festival was somewhat blended with various IT/moe aspects. For example they had live streaming of the event and official blog for the event, my favorite was this live mikoshi map that shows you where the mikoshi is. This picture of a girl shows you where the mikoshi is.
Here are some photos from the festival. I like the old-meets-new and analogue-meets-digital sort of mixture from these photos from Akihabara :)
At Kanda Myojin temple, there were various dance performances and music performances taking place.
A wonderful mikoshi placed in Kanda Myojin.
First, the troops on the horse arrived. One of the troops ran up the hill and made an announcement in ancient Japanese style, and ran down to let all other troops up. It was a wonderful performance!
Then all of the mikoshis started coming into Kanda Myojin.
This is a mikoshi of a devil and a mikoshi of a catfish.
In this website, you can see the same creatures' mikoshi drawn in an old picture of Kanda Matsuri.
Some of the traditional mikoshis.
In case you don't know what shishimai is, this is a photo of shishimai performance. You cover your head with a mask of a tiger and dance to traditional Japanese music.
There were lots of children sticking their head in the mouth of Shishimai...
Tengu mikoshi (Tengu is ancient Japanese imaginary monster with long nose.)- this was created by university students.
Elephant Mikoshi-indian style.
This year, a new mikoshi joined the parade. It is a mikoshi of a famous anime character Keroro Gunso. This is the first time anime character's mikoshi is made for Kanda Matsuri. This mikoshi was made in an effort to cheer up Akihabara that has been impacted by the slaughter incident last June.
BTW, I was able to see Akiba Mikoshi, which was created last month also to cheer up the town of Akihabara.
Akiba Mikoshi did not perform in the real Kanda Matsuri, but you can see the video from last month here: