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Saturday, March 17, 2012

Funatogyo on the Sumida River

Sanja Matsuri(三社祭) is an annual festival held in the middle of May at Asakusa Shrine. It is said its origin goes back to 1312 when a ritual was held on the water. "Sanja" comes from the three deities enshrined there. In commemoration of the 700 anniversary of the festival, the ritual will be revived as Funatogyo(舟渡御) on March 18th this year. Funatogyo is said to have originated as part of the ritual that shrine parishioners went to the ceremony cite by ship to welcome the god.

On the evening of the 17th, the parishioners carried three mikoshi(portable shrines) to Senso-ji Temple(浅草寺) after the three divine spirits of the shrine were moved to mikoshi. The three deities will stay overnight at the temple with Kannon(Buddhist deity of mercy) enshrined in Senso-ji.

Around 10 a.m. on the 18th, three mikoshi placed on the floats will start to parade through the shrine's parish district and will arrive at the pieraround 0:30 p.m.
Boats carrying three mikoshi will go up and down the Sumida River from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Around 5:40 p.m., mikoshi will be placed in front of Kaminarimon.
The parishioners will start to carry them to the shrine around 6 p.m.

In the Edo Period, this event was held jointly by Asakusa Shrine and Senso-ji Temple. This event was discontinued because of the Ordinance Distinguishing Shinto and Buddhism(神仏判然令) in 1868.
This event was held only once in 1958.

Sanja Matsuri will be held from May 18th to 20th.
The 18th day of every month is a day believed to have a special relation with Kannon.

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