We focused on one of the celebrity of Kaminarimon Chubu Block, an owner of a grilled eel restaurant, Masanori Irokawa, for Sanja Festival Special of 2002.

Tell us, Mr.Irokawa!

Mr.Irokawa offers mouth-watering grilled eels at his restaurant "Irokawa"
in 2 Chome Kaminarimon, and is also known as the Man of Sanja Festival.
We interviewed him on this and that of Sanja Festival.

Click for the detail of his restaurant, Irokawa

What was special about this years festival?
A TV celebrity, Kunikazu Katsumata called around in his spare time.
I lent him an extra happy coat, and he bore mikoshi!
When I handed in happy coats to laundryman, I found he was the one sweated the most.
It tells that he bore mikoshi desperately.
Is it true the festival was broadcasted on TV?
They broadcasted on Sky Perfect TV.
I asked the people in the block before hand so that they wouldn't be annoyed being shot when they bear mikoshi..
People said that was no problem, and that's how they got the shot.
People call you the Man of Sanja Festival, and how do you feel about it?
Well, I'm not the only person who loves and is proud of the festival.
I thought I shouldn't take this interview and stand out at first.
It doesn't ring my bell.
The pattern of the happy coat of Kaminarimon Chubu Block is a lattice pattern. Does it have any special reason?
I don't know the meaning of the pattern, but I heard that it was originally designed by previous Hatsu Ogawa.
The ones we wear now are a design by the third Hatsu Ogawa, and we've been wearing this design for quite sometime now.
The lattice stands out nicely in this design.
The previous design was a bit more bluish.
The curving at the bottom of local mikoshi is designed by previous Hatsu Ogawa, too.
Mikoshi bearing had been regarded as men's activity. How about now?
Well, I think women these days are good bearers, too.
But they may have to give their way to men sometimes when the following mikoshi arrives already at somewhere around Hozomon and we have to speed up.
But more women bear mikoshi every year, you know.
What's the difference between Sanja Festival now and before?
We used to wear breechcloth but now we wear long johns, and the length of happy coats are longer to match long johns these days.
It's not discussed or arranged anywhere but somehow it's how it is.
The floats used to be the main attraction before and I don't remember since when, but now it's the mikoshi parade.
What is the authentic shout for mikoshi parade, "Wasshoi", "Seiya", or "Oisa"?
I hear that the shout used to be "Wasshoi" from a combination of "wa", peace and "shoi", to bear. Mikoshi parade shout of Tomioka Hachiman Shrine in Fukagawa is still "wasshoi".
I guess it altered by the way we bear the mikoshi.
In Sanja Festival, mikoshis are bore at comparatively high position, so "wasshoi" doesn't match the rhythm of bearing it up and down.
I guess "Seiya" and "Oisa" are derivatives of "Wasshoi".
What does your wife do on Sanja Festival Day?
A lot of people come over from all over Japan, like some of them has come for every 27 years. This year we had over one hundred visitors in our neighbors over the weekend.
My wife cooks all through the night because people prefer to entertain visitors at the restaurants rather then at home as they used to do.
I really think she is doing great, and thank her.
The home-made cooking by Mrs.Irokawa, reunion over the dishes, and mikoshi bearing excitement are what brings the visitors to Asakusa every year, aren't they?
You are exactly right! There weren't enough bearers within the block some years ago.
But since we have visitors all over Japan these days, we have plenty of bearers now.
The visitors who call on our place especially are all nice and polite people.
Mr.Irokawa is so famous as to be interviewed in many TV programs and news papers. Talking with him in person reveals the secret of being so popular.
His warm and peace-loving yet red-blooded character is what brings everybody to Asakusa at Sanja Festival period. "I make it rule to bear only the right side bars of mikoshi." he says.
"It's my way of showing my faith to the three deities, especially the older brother who is believed to stand on the right side of the main deity.
A "Big Brother" of everybody, you know." He also makes it rule to be the 87th toller of the watch-night bell, because as he puts it, the number 7 and 8 are followed by 9 which reminds of the idiom "to the nine". "I will retire from Sanja Festival when I fail to bear the right bar." says Mr.Irokawa, but it seemed his retirement day would never come!

1. It rained on Sanja Festival Day as the jinx says!
There is a jinx that it rains on Sanja Festival Day, and it did. The forecast was rain or cloudy on 17 - 19th, and though it rained on the 17th, we had occasional sunshine on the 18th and more sunshine on the 19th, the climax day of the Festival with Miya-mikoshi parade.
The procession of Daimyos was canceled due to the rainfall.

The lottery for participation of Miya-dashi abolished opening the door to every applicant!
Not too many people were lucky enough to win the lottery for the participation of Miyadashi, but this year, the lottery was done away with and everyone who wishes to bear Miya-mikoshi were free to participate.
At 6 AM on the 19th, the demonstration of mikoshi-bearing was performed by a team of representatives from each block, and at 6:30, Miyadashi started.
It was as wild and boisterous as ever and the last mikoshi, Ichi-no-miya finally made its way at 8:30.

An exciting and impressive moment of Miya-iri of Ninomiya!
Hisa-kata block where JIDAIYA is located was lucky enough to be visited by Ninomiya this year.
Four steeple jacks mounted on the mikoshi just before entering into the block and lead the parade.
Were they cool! Nothing could be as exciting and stirring as Miya-iri!