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Special Events

Setsubun (Bean-Throwing Ceremony)
Setsubun (Bean-Throwing Ceremony)
Hie Shrine, and others (Feb. 3)
"Setsubun" literally means the division of the seasons. According to the old Lunar Calendar, this day was the end of winter and to celebrate, in the evening, throw roasted soybeans both inside and outside their houses while crying, "Fuku-wa-uchi, Oni-wa-soto," meaning "good luck in, devils out." Major temples and shrines in Tokyo hold big events to throw beans and many people visit.
Ume Matsuri (Plum Blossom Festival)
Ume Matsuri (Plum Blossom Festival)
Yushima-Tenjin Shrine (early Feb. - Mar.)
Yushima-Tenjin has been famous as a good area in which to view plum blossoms since the Edo era. With their emergence from the buds, local people can see that spring is on its way as the grounds of the shrine become more colorful.
Ueno Sakura Matsuri (Cherry Blossom Festival)
Ueno Sakura Matsuri (Cherry Blossom Festival)
Ueno-Onshi Park ( late Mar. - mid Apr.)
When the cherry blossoms season arrives many parties and festivals are held all over the country and the Ueno Sakura Matsuri festivities are among the largest. The night time viewing of the cherry blossoms is also popular due to the trees being illuminated by 2000 paper lanterns.
Fuji Matsuri (Japanese Wisteria Festival)
Fuji Matsuri (Japanese Wisteria Festival)
Kameido-Tenjin Shrine (late Apr. - early May)
It is said that the fuji (Japanese wisteria) in Kameido-Tenjin Shrine were planted approximately 320 years ago when the shrine was first built. The violet wisteria (actually a pale purple variety) trellis fascinates visitors and the views of the 15 trellises of 100 wisteria plants and the main hall itself, as seen from the Taiko-bashi in the shrine's grounds, are most beautiful and well worthy of a visit.
Kanda Matsuri Festival
Kanda Matsuri Festival
Kanda-Myojin Shrine (Sat. and Sun. around May 15th)
The Kanda Matsuri is the main festival of Kanda-Myojin, a general tutelary shrine protecting Edo and as such is one of the three major festivals in Japan alongside the Gion Matsuri of Kyoto and the Tenjin Matsuri of Osaka. In the Edo period, the Kanda Matsuri was called "Tenka Matsuri," meaning that it was the greatest festival of the time - making it a festival celebrated throughout the Edo area of centuries past.
Sanja Matsuri Festival
Sanja Matsuri Festival
Asakusa Shrine (Third Friday to Sunday in May)
The syncretism of Shinto and Buddhism had been seen thriving in Japan prior to the Meiji government's decision to separate Shinto and Buddhism and to that end the Asakusa Shrine and Sensoji Temple were once a single entity. At the time, the festival was called "Kan-non Matsuri," but since its forced separation, the Asakusa Shrine alone has held the festival as an annual celebration.
Iriya Asagao Matsuri
Iriya Asagao Matsuri
(Jul. 6th - 8th)
This festival originated due to the reputation of a gardener who cultivated Japanese morning glories in the Iriya area during the early Meiji era. Although the festival was halted for a time in the Taisho period it resumed in 1950 and now attracts many people to its huge numbers of beautiful bright blooms every summer.
Asakusa Samba Carnival
Asakusa Samba Carnival
(Aug. last Sat.)
First held in 1981, Asakusa's Samba Carnival is a popular summer event in the capital with dancers from all over the country competing in their gorgeous costumes to out-dance each other and in doing so causing lots of excitement among the street hugging crowds.
Tori no Ichi Market (Tokyo)
Tori no Ichi Market (Tokyo)
(The "days of the bird" in the month of Nov.)
Tori no Ichi is a fair held on the "days of the bird" in the month of November (this year there are three days of the bird during the calendar's eleventh month: the second, the fourteenth and the twenty-sixth).
The fair at the Otori Shrine in Asakusa is particularly popular due to its grand scale. People gather from far and wide to buy the lucky kumade (bamboo rakes) which are believed to "rake in" good luck. While it is a little far from Asakusa, if you happen to visit the area on a "bird day," it is well worth a visit.
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