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Recommendation course

Taito city Course (Asakusa)

Walking around Asakusa-jinja Shrine


"Sanja Matsuri Festival" ;
Photo credit: Courtesy of Suga collection, Owned by Taitto City Board of Education


A scene of Binzasara Jyunkto parade


A scene of Shirasagi-no-mai Dance (Dance of Egrets)
in the big parade

When going through the stone Torii standing on the east side of the main building of Senso-ji Temple, you arrive in the precinct of Asakusa Jinja Shrine, which is enshrined local Shinto deities of the whole Asakusa and commonly known by "Sanja Sama" famed for Sanja Matsuri Festival. The beginning of this shrine is that people built Sanja Gongen-sha Shrine (current Asakusa Jinja Shrine) for worshipping three persons, Hinokuma brothers and Haji no Nakatomo, who are deeply related to the story about the beginning of Senso-ji Temple (see above). Therefore, the crest of this shrine is "Mitsuami" modeled on three casting nets. It is supposed that this shrine had already been built until the end of the Kamakura period, because there is a record that one of the Shinto rituals "Funatogyo" (carrying the sacred object across a river by boat) was performed at that time.

The main building of the current shrine was rebuilt in 1649 donated by the 3rd shogun TOKUGAWA Iemitsu, because that was repeatedly suffered collapses by fires.

And at that time Asakusa Toshogu Shrine in the precinct of the temple moved into the Edo Castle, but the image of Ieyasu (first TOKUGAWA shogun) in the Toshogu Shrine was kept at Asakusa and came to be enshrined together with three deities of Sanja Gongen-sha Shrine and was served by Senso-ji Temple. How-ever, by the Ordinance Distinguishing Shinto and Buddhism in the Meiji period, Sanja Gongen-sha Shrine was independent from Senso-ji Temple and changed its name into the current. Hikan Inari Shrine also remains in the precinct, which was built by the request of SHINMON Tatsugoro, who was deeply connected with Asakusa and asked Fushimi Inari Shrine to make a branch shrine.

Sanja Matsuri Festival, held at Asakusa-jinja Shrine every year from Friday to Sunday near in May 17 and 18, is one of the major festivals in Tokyo. It is the very lively festival that three Mikoshi (portable shrine), where each deity enshrines, are carried around 44 towns of Asakusa. According to the chronicle "Senso-ji Engi", the shrine received the oracle "Make Mikoshi, hold the ritual Funatogyo, and pray for world peace," in March of 1312. This is said to be the beginning of Sanja Matsuri Festival. Once, the festival held every year on March 18, which is the day HINOKUMA brothers found the statue of Buddha, and the ritual Funatogyo held every other year. In the Edo period, eighteen towns of Asakusa, its number is associated with the day 18th, competed the luxuriousness of their festival floats.

In the Meiji period, the ritual Funatogyo and the parade of festival floats disappeared in the festival, and its schedule was changed into the two days, on May 17 and 18. The parade of Mikoshi came to hold in place of the festival floats. In 1963, the schedule was changed again into the current. At present, a big parade holds on the first day (Friday); the dancers of Binzasara-mai Dance, Teko-mai Dance, Shirasagi-no-mai Dance and so on are marching around the whole Asakusa, guided by the music of Japanese orchestra and the song of scaffolds. On the second day (Saturday), the parade of about 100 small Mikoshi made by each town of Asakusa holds, and three large Mikoshi (Ichino-miya, Ninomiya and San-no-miya) are carried around 44 towns of Asakusa on the final day (Sunday).

8 Asakusa Jinja
(Asakusa-jinja Shrine)

National Cultural Important Properties (Buildings)
Designated on November 29, 1946

Exterior of Votive Offering Hall of Asakusa-jinja Shrine


Interior of Votive Offering Hall of Asakusa-jinja Shrine

The current Asakusa-jinja Shrine was reconstructed together with the buildings of Senso-ji Temple in 1649, after all of them had been burned down in 1642. According to the chronicle "Senso-ji Shi", their reconstruction costs were quite huge; the buildings of the shrine cost more than 1200 ryo (money at that time).

The buildings of the shrine are built in a style resemble to the Gongen-zukuri style that Hon-den, Hei-den and Hai-den are connected by corridors, but adopt slightly unique structures. Hai-den is 7 ken (about 12.7 m) width at the beam and the dedication of Binzasara-mai Dance hold here in Sanja Matsuri Festival. Hon-den is in the Sangen-sha Nagare-zukuri style, and HINOKUMA brothers and HAJI no Nakatomo are enshrined here.

The whole buildings of shrine are lacquered by Bengal red, but the fittings are black lacquered, which contrast well. The small walls above the beams are vivid, where holy animals such as Chinese phoenix, Kirin and dragon symbolizing a good omen are painted with brilliant color on the golden ocher background. These lacquer and paintings were repaired in 1994-95, because the deterioration over time came to stand out since the repair in 1963. The brilliantness of revived colors is amazing. This shrine is a precious cultural property, because it retains the atmosphere of those days as it was still now even if 360 years and over have passed since its construction, escaping damage from the Great Kanto Earthquakes and the World War II.

Opening Information of the Asakusa-jinja Shrine

Opening Days:
All year (Only the precincts of the shrine)
Opening Times:
All day
Accessible facility