I went to Torinoichi Market, the midnight attraction of Edo!
Hello, I’m Kanako from SUNCHI editorial desk.
Hello, I’m Kanako from SUNCHI editorial desk. Before we knew it the winter has come. When it’s about the time of putting a heavy coat, we would start to count down the days for a certain festival. The clock has struck twelve midnight. When a drum sounded people flooded into a precincts of the shrine. Even though it’s midnight, the site was lit so bright and it lined a lot of stalls with “Kumade” bamboo rakes piled up to look up. Dynamic cries of sellers were exchanged here and there. It’s Ohtori shrine in Asakusa, Tokyo. I went to Torinoichi Market for good business held in “Torinohi” or Cock’s day sccording to the traditional Chinese 12 animal zodiac in November.
What’s Torinoichi Market?
There is a Haiku of Kikaku, a disciple of Basho. “Haruomatsu Kotonohajimeya Torinoichi”. Torinoichi is a festival wishing for good business since Edo period. Various size of Kumade as lucky charm are sold at stalls in the shrine and people look for each favorite and bargain with them having a fun. In Tokyo It’s held in many shrines now but it’s only the two Ohtori shrines in Hanabatake and Asakusa that lasts since Edo period. Especially in Asakusa, Kumade stalls are numbered to 150 and visitors are 700,000 to 800,000 every year, which makes it notable nationwide.
I went to Ichinotori, the first Torinoichi market.
Traditionally it’s held on Torinohi or cock’s day in November. Sometimes it’s held three times depending on a year. I visited the first market. It starts at the twelve midnight and lasts 24 hours. Assuming a big crowd I was on site at 11:00pm but already there was a long queue for worship! A local said this was less crowded. Sometimes the line reaches two blocks away. Lanterns which show the entrance of the market were set up in the street to the shrine, which made me so excited.
Some in the line already got a lucky Kumade in their hands. That was for the last year. At the entrance of the shrine, there is a drop off place for Kumade. It’s the practice to return the last Kuamde before worship and buy the new one.
It’s 0:00am. The gate’s open!
The sound of drum was made and the gate was opened. People awaited long rushed into the site. People had filled the main site in a blink. The bells hanged down were constantly rang out overhead and there, the lines of lanterns seemingly over 100 pieces. Those were loomed out in the darkness and gave a fantastic view kind of a time slip.
Have a fun with bargaining
The side walks from the precincts were arcaded and the stalls selling Kumade jostled against one another. I was done with worship, and went into the fray for Kumade!
“Hey, stop at us.”
“You’re the first come and we’ll give you lots of free gift.”
“We’ll put Oiri bukuro for free of charge.”
“Staffs here are all young.”
I was called from everywhere. When I found my favorite, it’s time for bargaining. The price will be decided under negotiation here. Tell them your rough budget and don’t hesitate asking any question. Shape and size varies. It’s from 3000 yen to several hundreds of thousand yen. If you bargain with them, you’ll get free optional charms like rice ears, a full-house bonus bag, a name plate of your own. Don’t be shy and enjoy bargaining!
When a deal come through, they will close with “tejime” a hand- clapping ceremony. Kumade what I bought was for this SUNCHI, so they made a special call for SUNCHI’s prosperity before hand-clapping. We clapped our hands together and people around us smiled in a festive mood. This call and hand clapping were heard everywhere which was the most characteristic for Torinoichi market.