Narita Taiko Matsuri

Mar 27th, 2009 | By Shane Sakata | Category: Festivals, Tokyo and Vicinity

The Narita Taiko Matsuri is the largest drum festival in the Kanto region and is held each April at Naritasan Shinshoji Temple.  The matsuri features two full days of taiko drumming, dancing and parades.

Literally, taiko means “fat drum”, and the art form can be traced back the the sixth or seventh century in Japan, perhaps earlier.  Taiko drums were used by samurai on the battlefield as a way to intimidate and scare the enemy as well as to issue commands to the troops.

“One soldier would carry the taiko lashed to a backpack-like frame, while two other soldiers would beat the taiko, on each side.”
Source: Taiko Resource: Overview and History

Communities also used various taiko beat combinations to signal that a storm was coming or that hunters were setting out or returning.   Eventually, some came to believe that taiko drums were the voices of the gods and today both Buddhist and Shinto employ taiko drums in their religions ceremonies.

Meiji Jingu Taiko Drum

Witnessing a taiko performance, and the distinctive sound of the drums, is something that you won’t soon forget.  Long after you have left, the sound of taiko drumming will transport right back to Japan!

Narita Taiko Matsuri Schedule of Events

Dates: April 11 & 12, 2009

Location: Naritasan Shinshoji Temple (Naritasan Shinsyoji Temple Access Information)

Events:

  • Sengan Hana-Daiko (festival opening ceremony) where over 500 parishioners present a taiko demonstration from 10-10:30AM each day.
  • Naritasan Sennen Yobutai  (taiko by torchlight) – April 11th from 5-7PM.
  • Omotesando Taiko Parade features drumming and dancing on along Omotesando (the main street approaching the temple) – April 12th from 3-5PM.

Image Credit:  Personal Collection

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2 comments
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  1. I went to this temple in 2004. Really amazing place.

  2. You can find the official website for the event here : http://nrtm.jp/

    I also recommend this temple for the New Year celebration. The monks perform a fascinating service with chanting and drums, inside the temple, which you can freely attend. Almost all the Japanese people visiting will simply pay their respects at the shrine and leave though, so there was plenty of space inside when I last went.

    The crowd control at Narita temple is also the best I have ever seen. The police break the crowds up into sections and move them systematically, so things move along quite quickly, and there was no pushing or getting squashed.

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