Intimate Portraits from the 2018 Sanja Matsuri

all photos by Benjamin Beech

Over the weekend the annual Sanja Matsuri took place in Tokyo. Sanja (三社) literally means 3 shrines, and the 3-day festival is a celebration of the 3 men who founded Senso-ji temple in Tokyo in 645 AD. The celebration is known as one of the wildest and largest in Japan as parades and spectators crowd the streets of Asakusa. This year, Tokyo-based photographer Benjamin Beech was on the scene and captured these intimate portraits of some of the participants.

“For the most part the event is a fun and safe day out for participants, families and spectators alike,” says Beech, describing the general atmosphere. One aspect that the festival hs become known for are the many yakuza participants who come out to display their tattoos with pride. “Factions of these groups take part in the event, allowing the public a rare glimpse of their members and also their trademark full body tattoos.”

Beech spent Saturday and Sunday at the event this year, following several groups around. You can see more photos on his website and you can also follow him on Instagram.


  1. Japan has the best tattoos but makes sure no one has them. -.-“

  2. I think you mean Asakusa, not Akasaka?

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