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Tokyo, Yokohama and Kanto
Tori no Ichi is the festival and an open-air market taking place in Juzaisan Chokoku-Ji Temple every November in Tokyo. Locals also call that shrine Otorisama or a shrine of Tori. The shrine is in the Taito area, the same district as Asakusa. This festival is one of the biggest festivals where you can enjoy the Autumn of Tokyo and feel that winter is coming. From this article, you will learn more about the long history of this event and find out how you can enjoy this annual fair.
You probably should know that Tori is in Japanese means bird. Ichi means a market, or festival, therefore this is a bird festival. Regarding Tori no Ichi, Tori here implies for a rooster according to Chinese Horoscope. In the old days, Japanese people imported many things from China. For example, before we started to communicate with China, we didn`t have letters. So, Japanese people adapted Chinese letters – Kanji. Kanji originally came from China, and then Japanese invented Hiragana and Katakana on their base. This is how Japanese writing evolved.
According to the shrine’s history annals, “Amaterasu” – the major deity of Shinto religion had died at the place. “Amenouzume” – the goodness of dawn danced over her the grave. Many gods were looking at her dance. One god that played the guitar got a bird on the top of his instrument. Other gods saw this and thought that it is a meaningful thing. So, this legend lies in the origin of Otori Shrine.
Yamato Takeru – a famous Japanese prince, went to pray to this shrine before he fought against the enemy. He succeeded. Then, he came back to Otori shrine to appreciate the god of the shrine, so that he dedicated his weapon which was a rake. Yamato Kakery was famous to defeat his enemies by cross-dressing as a maidservant at drinking parties. From then, Torinoichi fairs became famous for its lavishly decorated rakes (kudame – in Japanese) all over Japan.
The festival held in November, and only on the day of the rooster according to Chinese horoscope. It is a 12 days cycle, that means, that the fair may take place either twice or three times in November depending on a year. The festival usually starts with a sound of the taiko drum and then, the festival lasts until midnight. The first Festival day is “Ichinotori,” the second one is “Ninotori” and the third day is “Sannotori.”
If you have a chance, you may want to buy some unique souvenirs. As for this festival, I recommend you buy a beautifully decorated rake, that is supposed to bring you good luck. You will be able to see over 300 rake stalls at Tori no Ichi fair. The rakes can cost from 1000 to around 200,000~300,000 Yen. Therefore, it depends on how much you can spend on the rake and how much luck you want to grab. However, the rakes that cost around 20,000~50,000 Yen are the most popular at the festival. If you can speak Japanese or brave enough, you can negotiate with the stall seller, and have a great shopping experience.
If you don`t need a kumade rake, just walking through these rake stalls is just fascinating. Don`t forget to take a camera with you to capture the atmosphere of the festival and those masterpiece rakes as they are all unique. Besides, you should see the hand clapping ceremony when someone purchases a kumade!
Not only rake stalls welcome you at Tori no Ichi Fair. You will have a great chance to try the delicious festival food at the food stalls (Yatai) as well. Yakitori, Takoyaki, Yakisoba, Mochi and a great variety of sake and local beer are waiting for you until late at night.
Place: Juzaisan Chokoku-Ji Temple (or Otorisama)
Schedule: Usually 2-3 times every November. In 2019 the fair will be held on November 8th and 20th. The dates vary from year to year. So, be sure to check the days in advance. If you want to participate in the ceremony, you must sign up before 12:45 PM. The service starts at 1:00 PM. The place you sign up is in the shrine.
Official Website (Japanese only): http://www.torinoichi.jp/
Address: 3 Chome-19-6 Senzoku, Taito-ku, Tokyo
Tokyo Metro, Hibiya line, Irie station NO 3 north exit: 7 min walk
TX Tsukuba Express, Asakusa station: 8 min walk
Tokyo Metro, Ginza line, Tahara station: 15 min walk
This festival is great for those who would like to see and touch Japanese culture and history. It is easy to access, and you can get unique souvenirs there. Besides, Otorisama is very close to Asakusa. So, you have a great chance to explore even more of traditional Japan. Come to Tokyo in November, get your bamboo rake at Torinoichi Fair and enjoy good luck for the whole year!
If you would like to visit this festival with a local guide who can show you something extra in the Asakusa area or anywhere in Tokyo or Japan, please click on the banner below!
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Image courtesy of Tomomarusan
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