• Kyodo News

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A 56-year-old man has been arrested for getting on a “mikoshi” portable shrine and causing a disturbance during the Sanja Matsuri festival in Tokyo’s Asakusa district, police said Monday.

Asakusa Shrine, the organizer of the annual event which is one of Japan’s biggest festivals, bans the act of riding on mikoshi, insisting such acts profane its Shinto deity and pose a danger to public safety.

The shrine had proposed canceling this year’s festival following an incident last year in which carrying bars broke after some people got on a mikoshi, but it decided to hold the festival as usual as participants submitted a pledge not to ride on the portable shrines..

According to the police, the man from Taito Ward got on a mikoshi at around 3 p.m. Sunday on a street in the ward, inflaming the carriers and causing a disturbance.

The man, charged with violating a Tokyo ordinance banning public nuisances, also refused to get off the mikoshi despite warnings by police officers, the police said.

A total of some 25 people rode on the portable shrines during Sunday’s event, according to the police.

The police said they also arrested two other men on charges of interfering with police officers who tried to get people off the portable shrines.

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