Lucky Tori-no-Ichi Festival at Hanazono Shrine

I went to a Tori-no-Ichi festival at Hanazono Shrine in 2020! This event had been on my bucket list for ages. It was a night of color and festival fun. I left feeling really happy. For photographers, it is amazing.

Tori-no-Ichi means “rooster market.” It started a long time ago when farmers gave a chicken to their local shrines. It was both a sign of their appreciation and an offering for success in the following year. Before long, the merchants started participating in wishing for their business success. It’s been going on ever since. The festival usually happens at “Ohtori” shrines.

There are some exceptions, like Hananono. It is an Inari shrine. You can find it near Kabukicho and Golden-Gai. But it is popular with business people. Japanese businesspeople love anything associated with luck! Look what happens at Kanda Myojin in the New Year.

There are three of these festivals every November. Each goes for two days. But, as the coronavirus pandemic wasn’t over, the activities were on a smaller scale. That was a pity, but I still enjoyed it as it was my first time. I have to admit that I was a little nervous with so many people in a small area. My visit was brief.

What happened at Tori-no-Ichi Festival?

Many people go to pray on the night. Some also buy kumadeKumade are decorative rakes (a standard farming tool) that symbolically gather good luck. They range in size and price. I have never bought one, but rumor says some people pay over 50,000 yen for them. If you buy one, you should start with the smallest. Then every year, you return to the same shrine to upgrade to larger ones.

Stalls sell them, so it is very competitive. Salespeople work hard to catch customers. When someone makes a purchase, it’s a big event. The shop staff gather around and wish them the best of luck with a handclapping ritual. It is very lively!

The Tori-no-Ichi festival was an awesome event to photograph. It was very colorful; there were the kumade, lots of lanterns, and a big crowd. I wish I had a lens faster than f2.8, though, as some areas of Hanazono were quite dark.

Conclusion

Unfortunately, the food stalls were missing due to coronavirus.  That was something I was looking forward to as I like eating at festivals.  Maybe they’ll be back in the future. 

Hanazono Shrine in Shinjuku had its third Tori-no-Ichi later that month on the 25th and 26th. I went again, as they are very colorful and great for photos.

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