And a little Todai, too.
If it’s May there must be a matsuri somewhere today – especially if it’s a Saturday. Today’s happens to be the biggest in Tokyo, the Sanja Matsuri, which draws about 2 million people to Asakusa over three days.
I actually visited this matsuri back in 2010 (pics are on my Picasa page) but that was on a Friday, and quite a different experience. Today was the day for the neighborhood associations to parade their mikoshi around the Shitamachi neighborhoods (much like last Sunday at Kanda Matsuri) where tomorrow is the main event, where the Asakusa Jinja’s three huge mikoshi will traverse the area. That gets pretty intense, apparently – violent even – as locals fight over the right to bear the portable shrines.
Anyway, the diaries are on matsuri overload at this point, so you know the drill. After Sanja I met my friend Mark, who’s lived in Tokyo for about 15 years and is in the doctoral program at Tokyo University (Todai). This weekend is their May Festival – kind of like a giant high school culture festival blown up to brainiac college size. Good fun, and a very nice campus with several Josiah Conder buildings. Nothing there looks remotely Japanese apart from most of the students and the temple-style gate, but a lovely place nevertheless.