Meguro Sanma Matsuri 2018 – a Cozy Festival in the Middle of Tokyo



Have you ever thought there is a unique festival in the center of Tokyo? Every August in Meguro ward, they have what they call “Meguro Sanma Matsuri.” Sanma is a Japanese name for Pacific sauries, which Japanese people commonly like eating in fall as they have the best taste. Meguro ward is located in the center of Tokyo, with high land prices, so only wealthy people can afford living there. Today I am going to introduce you to one of the festivals that takes place in a place which is unlikely to hold a festival.

Image courtesy of 上野 彦馬

Meguro Sanma Festival

Meguro Sanma festival has been taking place since 1996. The purpose of this festival is to get back “good old heartwarming town,” which people tend to lose along with the development of the city.

The concept of this festival is based on one of the Japanese Rakugo titles called “Saury in Meguro.” Members of Meguro Station Shopping Street Union, who have unique imagination, started this festival so that the visitors can know how good Meguro is and how delicious pacific sauries are. To achieve this goal, they give visitors free pacific sauries and hold Rakugo show based on the stories about Pacific sauries. More than 30,000 people visit Meguro on the day of celebration and enjoy this festival.

Image courtesy of MOさん

At 8 am at the venue, shops along the street start to cover their windows with plastic sheets so that smoke won’t get in or start preparing for grilling pacific sauries – preparing their grills.

Those who come early wait in a line, sitting on the sidewalk, getting excited to eat delicious pacific sauries soon. As it is very rare even for Japanese people to cook Pacific sauries with charcoal, on the day of the festival, more than 30,000 people visit this area.

The Pacific sauries for this festival come from Miyako in Iwate Prefecture, and the number of fish is limited. That’s the reason why they have to wait in a line. Moreover, people are not 100% sure if they get the fish. The chance that the saury will be sold out make everybody queue in advance.

Can You be Patient?

The festival starts at 10 am, but some people arrive at 6 am. The earlier they come, the more likely they can get the Pacific sauries. Still, you can’t tell exact time you can get the fish.

Image courtesy of MOさん

One day, people wondered why the Pacific sauries for this festival come from Miyako, and they asked the organizer this question. The answer was that the shopping street union wants to serve the Pacific sauries from Miyako so that the visitors can taste the freshest and most delicious product, the fishes that swim southward from their usual habitat in the middle of September. By distributing grilled and raw pacific sauries for free, the organizers hope that people can realize the good points of both the Meguro area and Pacific sauries.

Image courtesy of ちゅんぞうさん

One More Thing

Another event you can enjoy is Rakugo, a comic story told by a professional storyteller, whose topic is the sauries in Meguro. This is also so popular that all seats are taken soon.

Details and Access

Date&Time: Early September every year. September 10th in 2018. From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Place: Meguro street. On the opposite side from Tanjō Hachiman Shrine
Homepage (Japanese Only):
Address: 2 Chome-13-36 Kamiosaki, Shinagawa, Tokyo

Image courtesy of 江戸村のとくぞう

Remarks & Advice

I put some juice of Kabosu (Japanese lime) on the Pacific sauries from Miyako, and they were amazingly delicious! They were too tasty for me to stop eating. I am pretty sure that they are worth waiting to eat.

Even though the festival is in September, some people got heatstroke so please bring enough water to avoid it while waiting. You should bring something to kill time as well because you will have to wait so long that you will get bored pretty soon.

How do you like this festival? This one is a little different than the ones where people carry mikoshi (a portable shrine), or naked men are screaming out. If you would like to experience something different, why not to drop by Meguro and try tasty Pacific sauries?

Don’t Stay Hungry at the Festival!

Image courtesy of Tomomarusan

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A lot of people when they get to a Matsuri for the first time feel a bit lost. They confuse about what is happening around. If you are new to Japanese Festivals or want to know an alternative way of how you can enjoy these events, the following article will provide you with a set of helpful tips on how to choose a proper festival and activities you should try there. Please don`t hesitate to take a look at it!



I'm Susan. Thank for reading my article! I hope you will enjoy the event of which I am presenting and have fun in Japan!

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