Saturday, January 27, 2018

Asakusa Tori No Ichi Shrine Festival

This is a very popular and busy shrine festival that happens two or three times in November (depends on how the calendar works out) at the Ootori Shrine.  Tori no Ichi is a festival to bring in good fortune for the new year coming up and is based on the rooster, one of the twelve animals of the Chinese zodiac.  In November 2017 I managed to drop in for the rarer third occurrence at the end of the month.  When I say this is a busy festival, it is extremely busy at the shrine in the late afternoon / evenings.  There are lineups that probably take you an hour to enter the shrine at a minimum, and it is wall to wall people.  During our visit, we went and saw the pretty display of lanterns at the front entrance and watched the Shinto priests performing blessings, but did not go in due to the long wait.  However, the streets south of the Shrine in Asaskusa are very festive and lined with all sorts of souvenir and food vendors.  There were plenty of people walking about and snacking on all kinds of tasty Japanese food.
Front entrance to Ootori Shrine with a huge display of lanterns.
You can see how crowded it is at the front gate in the picture above, and you can see the crowds waiting to get in at the gate in the picture below.  We were at the front taking it all in and for five or six minutes, the crowd did not move at all.
 I mentioned the lucky rakes you can buy inside the shrine.  There is a big bin at the entrance of the shrine where you can discard your lucky rake from last year.  Inside the shrine there are booths where you can buy new rakes for the new year.  So each year, you will buy a new rake.  The rakes range from simple ones to large ornate ones and of course the price rises accordingly.  Apparently there is a brief ceremony that takes place when you buy the rake from the vendor too.
An extremely fancy lucky rake.  You can see the golden tines above the greenery.  This rake was in Odaiba and it was huge, like 2 metres across.
Some pictures showing the festival streets leading up to the shrine.  Lots of well lit booths and visitors enjoying themselves.
Grilled fish on sticks around a charcoal fire.  People sit around the tub and eat.
Takoyaki or balls of batter with a piece of octopus inside. Classic fairground food.
Bananas dipped in chocolate.
Folded okonomiyaki / yakisoba with egg on top.  Looked very filling and tasty.

The visit to the shrine was pretty cool and we had a great time even though we didn't even enter the shrine.  It was fun to walk around in the evening and just take in all of the sights.

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