Asakusa Tori-no-Ichi (酉の市)

It’s amazing how although I spent so much time in Japan, I always find out about cultural traditions that I didn’t know about. Recently, I’ve heard about Tori-no-Ichi, an event that has been held since the Edo period on the days of the rooster (according to the Chinese zodiac) in November. This happens two or three times. This year, it’s on November 3rd, 15th and 27th. Traditionally, people would visit Tori (rooster) shrines and pray for abundant harvest and good profits.

I went to the Asakusa Otori shrine where the event is apparently the biggest in Japan. Around the shrine were the necessary yatai (food booths) found in any festival. I had yummy grilled hotate (scallops) and amazake (sweet rice wine).

Closer to the shrine, we found hundreds of stalls selling lucky kumade, highly decorated bamboo rakes. These come in various sizes and prices, and when a big one is purchased (generally by businessmen or wealthy families), the people of the booth conclude the sale by a ritual involving clapping and chanting. The atmosphere was very festive.

Many people were waiting to ring the shrine bells… the line was probably about one kilometer long. I am not too sure why it is important to do it on this specific day, I guess the luck is better ? Anyway, I did get some kumade but didn’t wait for the bells !

Here, part of the waiting line

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And then the stalls…

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On top of this stall we can see some of the biggest kumade

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Some kumade have a more modern style, like these ones featuring many cats

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More stalls…

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This turtle hanging on the ceiling seemed to be very heavy

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Here, a huge kumade is being sold and the clapping ritual will be performed shortly

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Here are the kumade I got… hopefully they will bring me luck ! (that is, good results at school, scholarships and internship opportunities !)

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