View Full Version : Fukagawa Matsuri

Aug 18, 2002, 11:49
Today, Sun 18 August, is the Fukagawa matsuri (festival) in central Tokyo. It's one of the Big three in Tokyo along with the Sanja Matsuri (Asakusa, in May) and the Kanda Matsuri.

The Mikoshi (portable shinto shrines) will be carried on Eitai Dori (road 1 in Tokyo, stretching East-West from the Imperial Palace Eastern gardens in Otemachi towards Chiba, along which the Tozai-line has been built) during all the day.
There will be no less than 50 of them starting from Shinkawa in Chuo-ku (near Kayabacho station) to Toyocho in Koto-ku. As it is very hot in mid-summer, spectators throw full buckets of water on the sweating mikoshi carriers. Some take a fire-engine water hose for better effect. :D

The heart of the Fukagawa district is between Monzennakacho and Kiba station (Tozai-line). The largest mikoshi being too heavy to be carried (it weighs no less than 2 tonnes, the heaviest in Tokyo !), it rests on display at the Tomioka Hachimangu shrine.

One good thing with this festival is that foreigners are allowed (and encouraged) to participate. It is better though if you could buy or rent some matsuri clothes ; you'll need tabi (special shoes), a happi or hanten (kind of open shirt with the name of the district you support in kanji) and a obi (cotton belt). You can choose between shorts (sometimes, really short)or special matsuri "trousers".

You can visit the Tomioka Hachimangu all the year, the 2 main mikoshi will always be on display. This shrine was built in 1627 and is one of the little known jewels of Tokyo, rivalling famous names like the Yasukni Jinja or the Meiji Jingu.

You can learn more here about Fukagawa during the Edo period (http://www.us-japan.org/EdoMatsu/Fukagawa/story.html) or the Tomioka Hachimangu (http://www.tokyoclassic.com/TempleandShrine/tomioka-hachiman.html) and other temples in the area.

Go-matsuri !:beer: :hanabi: :ramen:

Aug 18, 2002, 17:24
So have you already bought your own matsuri kit, Maciamo?

Thanks for sharing. Tokyoclassic.com is a great resource!

Aug 18, 2002, 22:14
Yes, I have my full equipment as I just happen to live in Fukagawa and my wife's family as always lived there.

So, I have carried the Mikoshi of my district from 11am to 3pm. I still feel my shoulder hurting. We all got wet to the bones. Actually, there was a typhoon today in Tokyo but nobody even noticed it as the water hoses poured more rain than the sky ever could. At times, I couldn't see while I was carrying ; there was too much water on my face. Well it was great fun. :cool: The official numbers announced half a million people ; that's about that. Even on a 6 lanes main street with large sidewalks, it was so crowded that it was hard to move for the spectators on the 2km of the procession. Absolutely amazing !:p

Aug 18, 2002, 23:36
I've always wanted to carry a mikoshi but up here in Sapporo only the temple staff do that. Besides, that parade is pretty limited and not as fun as those in Honshu.

Sweet! I'm sure the beer after wasn't bad either ;)

Aug 19, 2002, 00:25
I've just found a few interesting pictures of the matsuri on the official site of the Tomioka Hachimangu (http://www.tomiokahachimangu.or.jp/) (in Japanese, but have a look at the photos anyway ; check the matsuri clothes I described above if you've never seen any before).

I forgot to mention that this festival is held only once every 3 years. So the next will be in 2005. But there are plenty of others. That was my 4th matsuri since June this year, all in central Tokyo.

They have also made a special can of Sapporo Black-label for the festival. The back of the can has the name of the district of all 50 mikoshi of the Fukagawa Hachiman-gu Matsuri.

Aug 19, 2002, 00:31
Here you are. Isn't it beautiful ?

This picture was taken on Eitai Bashi (3 years ago I guess), which is the most exciting part of the way to the Hachimangu as people raise the mikoshi as high as they can during a few seconds and make "throw" it into the air and catch it again. A bit dangerous, surely exhausting, but that part of the magic.

Aug 19, 2002, 00:45

We also have such o mikoshi here in Fukuoka.
I saw their shoulders soaked with blood.
They had to run holding o mikoshi.
Holding o mikoshi must be hard. ..

Aug 19, 2002, 01:00
Throw and catch o mikoshi need skills,I guess.
Do they practise??

Aug 19, 2002, 01:24
Fukuokan people also matsuri lover (maturi zuki).
Each o mikoshi groups here are organized.
And for newcomer, it is not easy to join members
of 'katsugi te (carriers)', I've heard.
Because running with o mikoshi is not easy....maybe.

Aug 19, 2002, 03:14

my next question is inevitable: you have any pic of yourself in matsuri attire?

Aug 19, 2002, 11:05
Well, yes but they aren't developped yet (sorry I haven't got a digicam yet)

Oct 9, 2002, 10:48
Here are the pictures of the Fukagawa Matsuri (http://photojpn.org/matsuri/fukagawa/index.html). There were Balinese dances, traditional costumes, priests, martial arts and more. Enjoy and don't forget that every section has several pages (click on next)!

If you don't have time to see everything, you might be interested in seeing what are Taiko drums (used for the music in every matsuri) (http://photojpn.org/matsuri/fukagawa/fu26.html), the shrine maidens (http://photojpn.org/matsuri/fukagawa/ha6.html) or learn about the different pieces of the typical matsuri clothes (http://photojpn.org/matsuri/fukagawa/ha7.html)

Here is a complete explanation of the history of the Tomioka Hachimangu Shrine (http://photojpn.org/matsuri/fukagawa/ha25.html) and about the festival (http://photojpn.org/matsuri/fukagawa/fu0.html) itself.

Oct 9, 2002, 11:10
A pic from this wonderful site (it was crowded like that on 2 or 3 km):

Oct 9, 2002, 11:31
I feel sorry for the kiddies who loose their geta at such crowded matsuris.


Oct 9, 2002, 12:14
I haven't seen so many people with getas. People carrying always wear "tabi" (or bare feet, but not for this matsuri), which are impossible to lose (mine were so tight on the big toe that I got (chimame = blood under my nail).

Nov 15, 2002, 01:13
I have added a page on my site dedicated to the Fukagawa district in Tokyo (http://maciamo.tripod.com/nihonjapanjapon/id15.html).http://membres.lycos.fr/maciamophoto/hpbimg/chinese.gif