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Photographs from the Sanja Matsuri

  • A mikoshi procession
  • Readying the mikoshi
  • Festival participants in happi coats
  • A stall near Asakusa Shrine
  • Outside Kaminari Gate
  • Two gang members take a break
    Two gang members take a break

(Photographs by The Tokyo Reporter, May 17, 2014)

TOKYO (TR) – An estimated 1.84 million revelers participated over the weekend in the Sanja Matsuri, the colorful Shinto festival whose history goes back centuries, organizers of the event announced on Monday.

The figure is a decline of 30,000 people from the year before but an attendee would be forgiven for wondering how more people could possibly be squeezed into the boisterous event, held in the historic area of Asakusa in Taito Ward.

On both days, numerous mikoshi, or portable shrines, were carried by participants outfitted in traditional happi coats through the streets.

It is also a scene of intense drinking. Among the many partaking were members of the Asakusa Takahashi-gumi organized crime group, whose members could be seen with and without their coats. The group organized a number of parties in the alleys and streets not far from the grounds of the temples.

Not long after being photographed on Sunday afternoon, the two gang members shown above engaged in a small pushing and shoving altercation at one such drinking party. Just as a couple of elder members attempted to diffuse the situation, a police patrol car rolled through. “Yamemashou!” the officer yelled over the vehicle’s speaker.

It worked; the fight mostly halted. However, it was not due to deference from an authority figure — “Let’s cut it out!” — but rather it was the uproarious laughter from the other members following the request that stopped the fisticuffs.

A selection of photos from the event can be found in the gallery above.