Dear Alice,

Last month, I was one of the two million spectators in Asakusa for the Sanja Matsuri. It was thrilling to see the festival up close, but the crowd was so thick that sometimes I couldn’t move. At one point I found myself pinned by the big red inner gate at Sensoji Temple, giving me plenty of time to ponder the gigantic straw sandals hanging on either side of it. Can you tell me why the heck oversize footwear adorns a temple gate?

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