One of the most famous festivals of Tokyo, Kanda
Matsuri is also ranked among the three largest festivals
of Japan. Protected by the Shogun during the Edo Period
(1603-1867) and permitted to enter the grounds of Edo
Castle where he lived, it also came to be called ‘Tenka
Matsuri'(‘Tenka’ meaning Shogun). The main festival is
conducted in years ending in odd numbers according to
the Western calendar, and the festivals held in even-
numbered years are much smaller in scale. The rule to
change the scale of the festival in alternate years was
determined by the Shogun in the Edo Period, for the
festivals then were so extravagant.
The main attraction well worth viewing in odd-numbered years is the parade on the Saturday, when some 300 people march through central Tokyo districts such as Kanda, Nihombashi, Otemachi, Marunouchi, and so on. In addition to the portable shrines with a phoenix decorated on the roof there are all kinds of floats, and Shinto priests mounted on horseback line up in rows, producing a spectacular sight. On the Sunday, almost 100 small and large portable shrines gather from each quarter. Recommended souvenirs are T-shirts printed with pictures of the festival scene, fans, towels, etc.
Kanda, the venue of the festival, was formerly the central quarter of Edo (present-day Tokyo) back in the Edo Period. And those born and bred in Kanda were called ‘Edokko.’ Eddokos are considered to be very high- spirited, and their characteristics are reflected in the Kanda Matsuri which is a jovial festival brimming with energy. The Kanda Myojin Museum, which is open to the public on weekends and on national holidays, has a diorama of the Kanda Matsuri and also displays models of floats. If you wish to find out more about the festival, you should visit this museum.