Visit Japan #1: Tori-no-Ichi (THE EAST Campaign in Association with Japan National Tourist Organization London Office)

Dates:The days of the Tori or Rooster in November(the date changes each year, so please check the Japanese calendar)
Places:Otori-jinja Shrine and other shrines
City: 3-18-7, Senzoku, Taito-ku, Tokyo

Tori or rooster is one of the Junishi or the twelve animal signs of the Oriental zodiac, namely, rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and wild boar. Formerly, the Japanese used to combine these twelve zodiac signs with the system of Jikkan (the ten celestial stems), which were applied to each year and each day. The Tori-no-Ichi is conducted according to old Japanese customs, and is held on the days of the rooster in November.

Days of the rooster occur every 12 days in November, which means that the month of November has at least 2 or even 3 days of the rooster, depending on the year.

The Tori-no-Ichi is a fair held on the days of the rooster in November at various Otori-jinja shrines found in all parts of Japan. This fair is sometimes called by the familiar name of Otori-sama. The patron deity of good fortune and successful business is enshrined at Otori-jinja shrines which have many worshippers, and on these days of the rooster, a fair is set up in the precincts, with open-air stalls selling kumade rakes for ‘raking in wealth and good fortune.’

This good-luck rake is made of bamboo and is decorated with masks and koban (old gold coins).

Although the Otori-jinja Shrine in Taito-ku, quite close to Asakusa, is the most famous shrine for the Tori-no-Ichi fair, similar fairs are also held in about 30 other shrines in Tokyo such as Hanazono-jinja Shrine in Shinjuku-ku, Kitano-jinja Shrine in Nakano-ku and Ebara-jinja Shrine in Shinagawa-ku. Moreover, when a rake is sold, it is common practice for the seller and buyer to clap their hands rhythmically in harmony with one another (known as tejime). Quite a few people visit the fair just to hear the lively shouts which always accompany these hand clapping ceremonies.

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