Torikoe Festival in Torikoe Shrine, the Embodiment of the Custom of Tokyo’s Shitamachi

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Written by  Akira Kato

Located in Tokyo’s Taito, Torikoe Shrine has a history of about 1360 years. In June every year, the Torikoe Festival is held there. In my view, the Torikoe Festival is the embodiment of the custom of Tokyo’s Shitamachi.

Torikoe Shrine
Torikoe Shrine

Busy mobile food stalls (yatais) are an indispensable part of the summer festival.

Busy food stalls
Busy food stalls

These food stalls crowded around the stage for the dancers, on which people are singing and dancing. Visitors are eating food while watching the performance. The custom of Tokyo’s Shitamachi is attractively presented before our eyes.

Mikoshi parade

The highlight of the Torikoe Festival is the senkan-mikoshi. This large mikoshi (a divine palanquin), weighing four tons, is said to be the heaviest divine palanquin in Tokyo. Headed by the Sarutahiko (a deity in shape of long-nosed goblin), and followed by Tekomai danceers and children with flags of five colors, the large mikoshi is a magnificent sight as it proceeds through the town.

The most interesting part is the mikoshi parade along streets and lanes at night. When the large mikoshi decorated with lanterns and surrounded by the procession is carried into the shrine in darkness, the scene is so surreal that it attracts an audience of more than ten thousand each year. I also wait from dawn until dusk for a glimpse of the magnificent senkan-mikoshi.

Mikoshi parade along streets and lanes at night
Mikoshi parade along streets and lanes at night
Mikoshi parade
Mikoshi parade
Mikoshi parade
Mikoshi parade

Information on Torikoe Shrine

Formal name of the Torikoe Festival
Annual Festival of Torikoe Shrine
Address
Torikoe Shrine, 2-4-1 Torikoe, Taito, Tokyo
Time
Mid-June every year
Access
6-minute walk from Kuramae Staton (A3 exit) on the Toei Asakusa Line or 10-minute walk from Shin-okachimachi Station (A1 exit) on the Toei Oedo Line