Another year, another epic Sanja Matsuri has passed. For Traditional Japanese Tattoo lovers, fans and collectors it is a must-see event as it is the only time that the infamous Japanese Yakuza will have their tattoos on display in public. Showing your tattoos in Japan is not only considered inappropriate, in some parts of Japan it is even considered as a form of intimidation as the link between tattoos and crime is still very strong.
The Sanja Matsuri is a Shinto festival, held at Tokyo’s largest Shinto shrine in Asakusa, but the crowds it attracts is estimated at about 2 million people over a 3 day weekend, so the festivities spill out into the streets all around the shrine. For this reason, it is considered the wildest festival in all of Japan.
The festival parade revolves around the mikoshi, which are small portable shrines. There are three main, large ones, owned by the Senso-Ji shrine, but there are up to another 100 smaller mikoshi that are carried through the streets. The mikoshi are heavy, and expensive, and are carried by 50 men through the streets as they chant, stomp and shake the mikoshi through the streets. The harder they shake, the louder they chant, it is believed to bestow more luck upon the community and their respective neighbourhoods.
Authentink Tattoo Studio’s owner, Kian Forreal attended again this year, to capture the events, and even participate in the rituals of this historic festival