Good Fortune brought to you by decorative rakes.
Roughly translated as “rooster market”, Tori-no-ichi is a festival that’s held every year in the month of November. The festival’s origins are rooted in the Asakusa district of Tokyo where the first Tori-no-ichi was held at the Otori shrine during the 18th century. Since then it has spread to many other locations throughout Japan. In addition to Asakusa, this festival is also held at shrines in Shinagawa, Nakano and my personal favorite: Shinjuku.
Lanterns adorning the front of Hanazono Shrine
In it’s earliest incarnation, Tori-no-Ichi was a kind of harvest festival. These days the theme is much more commerce based. While people pray at the shrine for the usual things like health and prosperity, you’ll find many local business owners in attendance hoping for good fortune. An extension of this are the kumade for sale at many stalls in the area. Kumade are ornately decorated rakes that are hung on the walls of businesses as a kind of good luck charm.
Shopping for rakes
Like any good festival in Japan, one of the major draws is the abundance of street food. Shinjuku Tori-no-ichi does not disappoint on this front. While there isn’t much out of the ordinary if you’ve ever been to a Japanese festival before, the sheer variety is something that stands out. If you’v ever had it on the street before, it’s probably here.
Ayu no shio yaki (sweetfish grilled with salt) on display
The various stages of Okonomiyaki
Tori-no-ichi is held two or three times in the month of November on the “rooster” days. These are decided based on an system of assigning Chinese zodiac animals to each day of the month. This year those days are the 6th, 18th and 30th. The festivities also occur on the eve of each day. While standard festivals tend to wrap up at around 9 or 10 o’ clock at night, Tori-no-Ichi often continues past midnight. It’s perfect for the Tokyo nightowl.
5 Chome-17-3 Shinjuku, Tokyo 160-0022
Article by: Dennis Owen Dugan
Photos by: Dennis Owen Dugan