Hie Shrine’s great annual festival safeguarded by Edo Castle
The Sanno Festival has a history which began from the Edo Era, and is said to be one of the Three Great Festivals of Edo alongside the Kanda Festival and the Fukagawa Festival. Under the protection of Edo Castle, it was first launched as an annual festival of Hie Shrine which garnered considerable support from the shogunate, and that tradition continues even today. The elegant and refined procession that evokes history is exactly like the world of a dynastic picture scroll. It is truly unique to have this appearance of traditionally costumed people walking through the streets in an atmosphere of a city center. It is held in alternate years with the Kanda Festival which is also one of the Three Great Festivals of both Edo and Japan, and its scale and grandeur makes the Sanno Festival the ideal celebration as one of the three great festivals representing the nation.
The Tenka Festival enjoyed by generations of shoguns
The Sanno Festival is held in the middle of June in even-numbered years. During the Edo Era, floats and mikoshi (portable shrines) were allowed to enter Edo Castle, and so generations of shogun enjoyed the event that was called the Tenka Festival. The Jinkosai which is the procession of 500 people garbed in ancient court costumes is the biggest highlight of the Sanno Festival. The 300m festival parade is beautifully rich in pageantry with its series of ornamented floats and mikoshi. Departing from Hie Shrine in Akasaka, the procession winds itself through Tokyo Station, Nihonbashi, Ginza and other districts in the heart of the city and stops off at the Imperial Palace. During the long period of the festival which lasts for about 10 days, there is a variety of lively events held such as “The Children’s Festival” that prays for good health and growth for children as represented by kids wearing traditional costumes, the “Kagurabayashi” featuring traditional entertainment, and tea ceremonies. With these dignified yet friendly events, this is the perfect opportunity to get a feel of Japan while easily enjoying a festival.