Check Out the 2019 Tori no Ichi Festival at Hanazono Shrine!
Nov 11, 2019
You may have seen our feature on Tori no Ichi last year, but it’s such a fun festival that we wanted to introduce it again! One of the three major Tori no Ichi festivals in the Kanto area is the one at Hanazono Shrine in Shinjuku. Approximately 600,000 people visit over the four days the festival is held every year. If you haven’t been, it’s a festival that you truly can’t miss! The information you can find in this article is from the festival on November 8th. There are still two more days that you can visit this year, so keep reading to find out more!
History of Tori no Ichi
Tori no Ichi has been held every year in November since the Edo Period. The festival started at Hanamata’s (currently as Adachi Ward in Tokyo) Otori Shrine. It was adopted by the neighboring farmers and became known as a festival to celebrate the fall harvest, complete with the offering of a chicken to the shrine. Since then, the festival has come to represent good luck and good sales for businesses, with the sales of fans (called “kumade” in Japanese) as the main event. Taro and golden mochi (pounded rice cakes) are also favorites during this festival that happens just before the New Year.
When is Hanazono Shrine's 2019 Tori no Ichi Festival?
See the following schedule to find out when Hanazono Shrine will be holding the festival this year.
Tori no Ichi Festival
Friday, November 8th, 2019 (First Night, from the afternoon until 2:00AM)
Wednesday, November 20th (Second Night, from the afternoon until 2:00AM)
Night before the festival
Thursday, November 7th, 2019 (from evening until 2:00AM)
Tuesday, November 19th, 2019 (from evening until 2:00AM)
Now that you know when the festival is, keep reading to find out more about what to do!
Buy Your Own Lucky Kumade Fan
The kumade fan is a traditional farming tool. Bamboo is frequently a motif of the kumade fans sold at the festival, as these pieces look like the hand of a bear (kumade literally translates to “bear hand”). The fans are decorated with a collection of leaves and grains. The fan makes the fan look like an eagle that has caught its prey, reminding the buyers not to let go of luck once they grab hold of it. Another interpretation is that luck has been gathered. Other lucky items such as are treasure ships, large and small gold coins, boxes of ancient currency called ryo and okame masks are frequent decorations as well.
When you purchase a kumade fan, the person running the booth will clap and wish for your family’s safety and good business. Hold the kumade fan high when you bring it back to your house to keep it lucky. Once you get home, put the kumade fan you bought in a high position at the entrance of your house, and welcome luck into your home for the New Year.
We asked the booth owner, and he told us that kumade fans like the ones in the picture above are bestsellers! The small size is perfect for a souvenir, as you can put it anywhere!
Try the Festival Food and Visit the Freak Show!
If you’re visiting a festival in Japan, food stalls are a must. It goes without saying that a festival of this size has many food stalls, with many located on Yasukuni-dori Street and some even located on the shrine grounds. Look out for okonomiyaki (savory pancakes), yakisoba (fried noodles), takoyaki (fried balls of batter with octopus inside) and chocolate-covered bananas!
Recently, jumbo sweet potato sticks like in the photo above are a hit! You’re sure to find food that you can enjoy at the festival.
The freak show that takes place on shrine grounds is a staple of Hanazono Shrine’s Tori no Ichi festival.
This show only takes place in a small booth during the festival, and it’s a place to see acrobatics, natural phenomenon, and stunts in the city. Part circus and part sideshow, this is a unique experience you can only get at this festival.
Freak shows in Japan have been taking place since the Edo period, and have continued through the Meiji, Taisho, and Showa eras. Stop by and see a modern one at Hanazono Shrine!
The ticket takers are very welcoming, and the surreal billboards give the audience a hint about what they are in for. Photos aren’t allowed inside, so we won’t tell you what you can see! If you’re interested then check it out! It’s an experience you won’t forget! (Entrance fee: Adults 800 yen, Students 500 yen, Children 300 yen. Pay at the exit.)
Tori no Ichi is an event that is a sign that the New Year is just around the corner. Even if you missed the first night of the festival, don’t worry! You still have a chance to go on November 19th or 20th to experience the second night. Enjoy the Tori no Ichi festival while gathering your own luck for the New Year.
*Access to the shrine may be restricted due to crowds.
This shrine in Shinjuku has drawn the faithful since before the establishment of the Edo shogunate by Tokugawa Ieyasu in 1603 and continues to be cherished as an urban oasis to this day. The vivid ver…
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