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Bless your shoes not your socks

by Jun Hongo

Staff Writer

Tamahime Inari Shrine in Taito Ward is hosting the 39th Kutsu no Megumi Matsuri (Shoe Blessing Festival) this weekend, for which local shoe makers will organize every shoe-related event imaginable, including memorial services for worn-out footwear and special bargain sales.

Organizers of the event say there are many shoe manufacturers residing within the same district as Tamahime Inari Shrine, and it’s become an annual practice for them to hold this festival each year “to thank the shrine” for looking out for their business.

In addition to local shoemakers visiting the Tamahime Inari Shrine to undergo purification rituals, the festival provides an opportunity for shoe-lovers to bid farewell to their old shoes at a special memorial service. The chief priest will also hold praying ceremonies for the well-being of participants’ feet.

Japan’s first and largest kutsu mikoshi (portable shoe-shaped shrines) will parade on nearby streets on both days, while actors Masao Kusakari, Taiyo Sugiura and Anri Sakaguchi will be awarded best shoe-wearer awards on Nov. 23 from 11:30 a.m.

The Kutsu no Megumi Matsuri festival takes place at Tamahime Inari Shrine and surrounding areas in Tokyo’s Taito Ward on Nov. 23 and 24 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Times for the parade and memorial services depend on the day. For more information visit www.kutsumatsuri.com.