Kanda Matsuri, or Kanda Festival, is one of the three major festivals in Japan. Kanda is a region in Tokyo that prospered during the Edo era, which is also the period when the festival first started. The origins of Kanda Matsuri’s is not clear and specific, as there are no records in primary sources. However, the popular theory is that the festival became significant when General Tokugawa won the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600 AD. It is said that Tokugawa prayed at Kanda Shrine before going to war. On November 15, the day that Kanda festival was celebrated, Tokugawa had prayed for the Battle of Sekigahara. His victory of this battle made him the ruler of Japan. This also resulted in unification of Japan, a significant event in Japanese history. The legendary story of Tokugawa’s prayers, made Kanda Matsuri significant. Currently, the festival does not celebrate the triumph of war, but celebrates the God of Kanda Shrine.
The festival is held once every two years, during the middle of May. It continues for one week, with each day having different events. One of the biggest events is the Mikoshi Miya-iri. A parade of 200 mikoshi (portable shrines) are taken into the shrine. Each region around Kanda Shrine brings their own hand-made mikoshi. The people from their region hold the mikoshi on their shoulders and bring the small shrines into Kanda Shrine. Thousands of people participate in the event, with even more people watching from the streets from around the world. There are other parades that go around the Kanda region, all through the week. You can see special rituals and musical performances as well at the Kanda Shrine. People living in the Kanda district sees community cooperation as a valuable aspect, and the festival’s parades allow community organizations and groups to participate.