Perfect weather all week, rain on the one day I had something planned – that’s the way it’s been lately in Tokyo. This week sees the Kanda Matsuri, one of the three great festivals of Edo. It’s held only every-other year – an old Shogunate decree that resulted from the intense rivalry with the Sanno Matsuri (now held in even-numbered years) which often led to violence. Because the 2011 Kanda Matsuri was cancelled due to the 3/11 earthquake, this is the first full-fledged matsuri in 4 years.
The biggest event of the festival is the huge parade that starts and finishes at Kanda Myojin (the shrine where I spent New Years and Setsubun), at 8:00 AM and 7:00 PM. It traverses the old Edokko neighborhoods like Kanda, Nihonbashi and Awajicho. I chose to look in from the flagship Mitsukoshi department store in Nihinbashi, largely because of the weather. It was pretty nasty, but a big crowd still turned up, and we still got our full share of mikoshi, drums and even the mounted Shinto Priests, who were quite an impressive sight.
Among the highlights is the Sgt. Frog float – why it exists, I have no idea – and the final mikoshi, the one in the last video. It looked much older than the others and had a larger group of chanting bearers, so I suspect it’s of utmost importance to the shrine. The giant Oni from Setsubun also made an appearance, as well as the miniature horses which are the Shrine’s symbol. The odd thing is that despite the hour-long procession, Chuo-dori remained open to bus traffic – which meant that everyone would press in close to snap photos, and periodically the police would blow their whistles and shout “Basu! Basu!” and everyone would scamper back to let the bus lumber through.