Japan Atlas: Festivals

Sanno Festival


Date: 10 days in mid-June

Place: Hie Shrine, Chiyoda City, Tokyo

Majestic Parade Featuring Traditional Court Costumes

The Sanno Festival is organized by Hie Jinja in Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo. The shrine has a long history, dating back to 1478, when it was built to ensure good fortune during the construction of the castle in Edo (now Tokyo).

The highlight of the festival is the procession of portable shrines, which meandered through Edo Castle during the Edo period (1603-1868) and was viewed by the shogun. For this reason, it was also called the Tenka, or "crowning," festival along with the Kanda Festival, another major festival in Tokyo.

Today, the festival features a parade of some 500 people clad in the costume of the imperial court, which has been held in alternating years since 1681. The procession starts from one of Tokyo's business districts and proceeds for 30 kilometers to the Imperial Palace, with Shinto priests offering prayers for peace along the way. Imperial carriages and portable shrines shaped like those used during the days of the ancient court are carried along by priests and worshippers in costume. It is a page right of history. While the Kanda Festival is a celebration of the common townsfolk, the Sanno Festival is an elegant affair noted for its pageantry, rather than rowdiness.

Photos: A procession of people in the dress of the imperial court. (Hie Jinja, Tokyo)

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