Tori-No-Ichi (Day of the Rooster): a guide to Tokyo's lucky festival

Tori no Ichi Fair. Japan. Tokyo. Festival. Tori no Ichi Fair by Yoshikazu TAKADA. Creative Commons Attribution licence (CC BY 2.0)

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Location: Otori shrines, Asakusa, Tokyo, Japan

Dates: Every 12 days in November

Level of participation: 2 – buy a rake for luck

Taking place on the Days of the Rooster (according to the Chinese zodiac), this event normally happens twice a year. In the occasional years when it occurs three times, superstitious doomsayers believe there will be many fires. However, it’s invariably an upbeat occasion, where the festival-goers visit Otori shrines to ask for abundant harvests and shedloads of sales. Markets spring up around the shrines – the largest, in Tokyo’s Asakusa area, attracts tens of thousands of visitors to some 200 stalls.

A popular item to buy is a lucky kumade, a rake made of bamboo and adorned with charms. Hoping to keep raking in the wealth, some visitors fork out for a slightly bigger kumade each year. Traditionally, buyer and seller seal the deal with a ritual known as tejime, where they rhythmically clap their hands in harmony.

Ringing with claps and shouts, the markets are atmospheric places and many people turn up for a wander and some eats such as Yatsugashira potatoes, said to aid fertility.

Essentials: The festival takes place at some 30 shrines in Tokyo.

Local attractions: Asakusa is on the site Yoshiwara, the red light district of the ancient, pleasure-seeking city Edo. The five-storey pagoda was built to honour comedians, among others.

More infowww.jnto.go.jp

See a list of other festivals in November here.