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Sunday, 31st August 2014
In General Japan News,

Nezu shrine gears up for Grand Festival

If you're lucky enough to be in Tokyo on September 20th and 21st, then you mustn't miss out on the spectacular Nezu Shrine Grand Festival.

Dating back to 1714, the extravaganza sees people turn out in their thousands and is considered one of the three most important matsuri in the Edo region - of which Tokyo is a considerable part.

It is said that the sixth shogun Tokugawa established the event through a feudal political system, commanding that floats be constructed across all of Edo for a great celebration, the likes of which had never been seen before in Japan. Indeed, the matsuri was deemed to be of such scale that it was initially called the Tenka (world) festival.

This year will be even better than usual, as the organisers will be wheeling out one of the three large mikoshi belonging to Nezu. These portable shrines used to be carried through the streets in times of celebration, giving people the opportunity to thank various [lc]Gods.

For the most part, the Grand Festival consists of performances, including Urayasu-no-mai and Sanza-no-mai dancing. In the area around the shrine itself, which is located in Ueno, you can expect the streets to be thronging with hundreds of people and plenty of stalls from which you can buy things.

Many matsuri revellers congregate around the shrine's main building, with its Chinese-style gate, fence and tower gate. These have been designated by the country as important cultural properties that convey the excellent qualities of shrine architecture from the Edo period.

For those who will miss out on all the fun and are keen to experience the matsuri magic, there are many similar events happening throughout the Japanese calendar. Be sure to do your research before arriving so that you know which ones to attend.

Related news stories:
Bunkyo Azalea Festival (21st February 2014)