Tori no Ichi
November in Tokyo ushers in the first flush of winter, marked by the Tori no Ichi festival, popular since the late Edo period. Celebrated over several days of the Rooster (Tori in the 12-sign Chinese zodiac), which come every 12 days in November, it’s a chance to pray for good fortune, wealth and health for the coming year, so count us in!
Key locations to take in the action include the Juzaisan Chokokuji temple (11 & 23 Nov, from midnight the previous evening) and Asakusa’s nearby Otori Shrine, where the festival has its roots, although you’ll find a buzzy atmosphere at rooster temples around Tokyo. Your essential accessory is the trad kumade, a vibrant, decorated rake (sometimes accompanied by an ear of rice charm), sold by hawkers at stalls at the open-air Tori no Ichi markets, which always attract big crowds.
Snack on old-fashioned kiri-zansho candy (the steamed taro or rice cakes of yore are no longer popular), and pick up festive faddle as souvenirs. Although the lanterns look lovely at night that’s when the markets are busiest; for less crowd-surfing stress swing by during the day. Your nearest public transport is Iriya Station on the Hibiya line.
You’ll also find colourful festivities at shrines at Shinjuku’s Hanazono, Okunitama, Shibuya, Tsukiji and Meguro. Tori no Ichi is considered the first fair for welcoming the New Year. Plump your feathers and get set to crow!
Tori no Ichi / Juzaisan Chokokuji / 3-19-6 Senzoku / Taito-ku / Fri 11 & Wed 23 Nov, from midnight on the previous day / torinoichi.jp
Photos © Takashi M, Banzai Hiroaki, Kenta Hayashi