Good Fortune in the Fall: The Tori no Ichi Markets at Asakusa’s Ōtori Shrine
JapanIn videoGuide to Japan
In November, Shintō shrines in Japan’s Kantō region and elsewhere come alive with festive markets known as Tori no Ichi. Tori no Ichi are traditionally held on (and named after) the day of the rooster (tori) on the old lunisolar calendar. Since the cycle is 12 days long, there are two or three of these market festivals each November, depending on the year. Don’t worry, though—tradition holds that every Tori no Ichi is equally auspicious for visitors.
The birthplace of the Tori no Ichi tradition is said to be Ōtori Shrine, located in the Asakusa area in present-day Taitō. In this area the legendary prince Yamato Takeru is said to have prayed for victory before mounting a military campaign against unruly tribes in eastern Japan; following his victory, he returned and offered thanks on the day of the rooster in the eleventh month of the year. Today, the Tori no Ichi at this shrine hosts around 150 vendors of kumade—ceremonial bamboo rakes for “raking in” good fortune—as well as 750 other stalls offering food, drinks, souvenirs, and entertainment. Every kumade purchase is announced by a loud cry of “Peace at home, success in business!” (Kanai anzen, shōbai hanjō!) followed by a clapping ritual known as sanbon-jime, traditionally performed by merchant and customer together—just the thing to see visitors through the end of the year in high spirits.
(Originally published in Japanese on November 13, 2018. Photos by Miwa Noriaki. Video by Nippon.com. Banner photo: Lively scenes at Ōtori Shrine between the rows of kumade vendors.）