Tori-no-ichi is a market held at Otori Shrine in Asakusa, Tokyo.
The “Ichiban-taiko” drums struck at midnight signaling the beginning of November’s day of “Tori” kicks-off the market held for a duration of 24 hours. Tori is the rooster in the twelve Zodiac signs (a sequence of animal names used in Asian cultures for counting years, months, days, hours as well as the azimuth direction). When the day of Tori occurs twice in November, then that year the market is called “Ni-no-tori” (second Tori). If it happens three times, then they are called “San-no-tori” (third Tori). The market changes its name and frequency yearly. Markets with the same format are held all over Japan, yet the Tori-no-ichi at Otori Shrine is known as the most famous, having continued for such a long time.
Approximately 100 outdoor stalls line-up inside the shrine to sell “good-luck rakes” (which are said to “gather" good fortune), as well as 800 more stalls selling food outside the shrine’s grounds. The rakes are meant as ornaments that bring good-luck and prosperity in business. Check out the great variety in their designs, size and decorations. The Tori-no-ichi markets are truly a seasonal tradition, bustling with people getting ready for the end of year.
They both are rake-shaped signature talisman sold at the Tori-no-ichi market, which are meant to “gather up” good fortune. Kakkome are handed out inside the shrine, and good-luck rakes (“Engi-kumade” in Japanese) can be purchased at the stalls. The good-luck rakes come in all shapes and designs, and people choose theirs according to their budget and wishes. The rule is to buy a new one every year. While some wish for the stability in their business by purchasing the same sized rake each year, most people choose to upgrade to a bigger rake every year in order to pray for the growth of their business. Take your time, and find that special rake for you!
You will hear rhythmic hand clapping coming from and around the rake stalls. These claps are called “Tejime.” They are clapped in unison with a rhythm of 3,3,3 and 1, in order to wish together for business prosperity. If you buy a large rake, the shopkeeper will clap with you. If you hear a “Yooooo!!” call, that signals the start. Clap along together!
Large taro known as Yatsugashira are sold at the Tori-no-ichi market. They are regarded traditionally as a symbol of good-luck and social success, as well as bringing the blessings of many children (because of the many sprouts each taro puts out). Another famous specialty is the Kirizansho, a Mochi (rice cake) sweet made with powdered Sansho (Japanese pepper).
Sansho is Japan’s oldest spice, and it is regarded as a symbol of efficacy since the entire tree (leaves, flowers, nuts, trunks and barks) can be used without any waste. Please try them!
You are able to witness a traditional dance known as “Otori-mai” during the festival. A dancer rids festivalgoers of evil spirits by vigorously dancing with a sharp-eyed eagle mask, holding the three sacred imperial treasures (mirror, sword and jewel that appear in the Japanese mythology) in his right hand and a rake with a Okame (traditional female mask) in his right. Otori-mai can be viewed inside the shrine as well as the 瑞鷲渡殿 during the following times.
First appearance: Shortly after midnight (following the Ichiban-taiko)
Second appearance: Around 6 PM
Third appearance: Around 8 PM
(starting times are tentative)
You may not be able to pass through every street due to police traffic control.
Making prayers at the shrine may take hours during peak times. The shrine becomes congested with people.
Please be careful not to lose sight of your children.
Accessing the festival
Address: 3-18-7 Senzoku, Taito-ku, Tokyo
Iriya Station (Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line)
Walk straight ahead from Iriya Station’s 3rd exit, take a right turn at the first traffic light, cross the intersection at the end of the street, and you will be in front of the shrine.
Toei Bus (都08・草43・草63) Senzoku bus stop
From the bus stop, walk straight in the direction that the bus came from, and the shrine will be on your right. (There will be crowds of people from the station and bus stop heading to the festival)