三社祭

Some “downtown” characters form part of the organizing committee

men_sanjamatsuri
三社祭のまとめ係の人は、下町っぽいです。

These gentlemen look like they’ve participated in the Asakusa sanja matsuri many times before. They seem very much at home in Tokyo’s shitamachi, known for its traditional, Edo-influenced culture.

Wood and string toy provides old-fashioned challenge

balance_game_sanjamatsuri

剣玉は、伝統的な遊びです。

It’s nice to see the young people at the matsuri giving their smartphones a rest and enjoying some old-fashioned games, like kendama which involves catching a ball tied to two wood cups with a string.

Food and drink spill out into the street

sidewalk_drinking_sanjamatsuri

路上に、食べ物も飲み物もはみ出しています。ビールと霊的な行事は組み合わせがよさそうです。

Nearby commercial establishments put tables and chairs into the street. Beer and mixed drinks in cans seem to fuel the spiritual rites.

sidewalk_drinking2_sanjamatsuri

A clan assembles in front of Sky Tree in an Asakusa side street

skytree_sanjamatsuri
スカイツリーの前に、人が集まっています。御神輿は時代を通して変わらない儀式なようです。

Alongside the worship of local dieties, who are physically carried through the streets, Tokyo matsuris bring clans together and express group identity with matching jackets. Sky Tree in the background provides a contemporary marker to what feels like a timeless ritual .

Working class fashions include ink and hair dye

tattoo_sanjamatsuri

祭りでは、下町のファションが見られます。浅草の三社祭では、刺青が多いです。パンクのピンク色の髪もあります。

While much of “proper” Japan forbids the sight of tattoos, at festivals there is a proliferation of working class fashion, including large visible tattoos. I was equally struck by the long pink mane that makes the other fellow look like a punk version of My Little Pony. On-street drinking and smoking are also possible.

Festivals are the best part of summer in Tokyo

dog_sanjamatsuri

東京の夏は、祭りが一番楽しいです。通行止めにした路上に、大勢が集まって、たくさんの人が伝統的な服を着て、楽しい雰囲気です。

I love Tokyo when festivals bring neighbors into the street carrying portable shrines; eating, drinking and dancing on streets closed to traffic; and wearing traditional outfits. In May I went to Sanja matsuri in Asakusa as well as a festival at Hanazono shrine in Shinjuku.