"Tori-no-ichi" was held on November 23 at Matsushima Shrine in Ningyo-cho
Under the fine autumn weather, "Tori-no-ichi" was held on November 23, the day of the rooster, at Matsushima Shrine in Ningyo-cho.
Matsushima Shrine in Ningyo-cho
What is "Tori-no-ichi"?
"Tori-no-ichi" is an annual event held on the day of the rooster in November. On this day, decorated rakes, called "Kumade," are sold in front of some Shinto shrines. Why are rakes sold? Because they are "Engimono". It is difficult to explain what "Engimono" is and to translate it into English. It may not always be the right expression, but I can say it is a kind of lucky item. Just as an ordinary rake collects fallen leaves, people in the past regarded the rake as a magical tool that attracts customers, consequently bringing money and happiness. That is why the rakes are decorated with many lucky items. Rakes are for attracting customers; most of the time, company managers, shop owners, or restaurant owners purchase the rakes. Big companies purchase large rakes, while middle or small companies purchase reasonably sized ones. When you eat lunch or dinner at a restaurant, you may find a rake displayed on a Shinto altar. Ordinarily people rarely purchase rakes, but sometimes they buy small ones for daily life happiness.
Variety of decorated rakes
Rakes are decorated with many lucky items
What is the day of the rooster?
It wouldn't be so difficult to imagine that Japan received much cultural impact from China. Old Japan adopted the Chinese calendar, and twelve animals were assigned to each year of the calendar. The twelve animals, called "Eto", are: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Wild Pig. For example, the year 2023 is the year of the Rabbit, and the Dragon will follow the next year. Every Japanese person has a zodiac sign. For instance, babies born in 2023 have the Rabbit as their zodiac sign. People turning 12, 24, 36, 48, 60, 72, 84, 96 years old in 2024 were born in the year of the Dragon. Similarly, the zodiac is a very common identity for Japanese people. Koreans also have same culture. In other words, they also have their personal zodiac signs. Three different countries have same culture. This is very interesting.
Just as animals are assigned to each year, they are also assigned to each day. We are not as aware of the animals assigned to each day as we are of the zodiac, but we know that animals are assigned to each day. The day of the Rooster is the day that the Rooster is assigned. An animal comes every 12 days, so there are two Rooster days in November in a year or three days in another year. There were two Rooster days in November of 2023, and November 11 was the first, while November 23 was the second Rooster day. Therefore, “Tori-no-ichi” was held twice in 2023.
Where can we see Tori-no-ichi?
“Tori-no-ichi” is held on the day of the Rooster in November at shrines associated with birds. One of the shrines most famous for Tori-no-ichi in Tokyo is Ohtori Shrine in Asakusa. On the day of Tori-no-ichi, many stalls selling rakes line up around Ohtori Shrine, creating a spectacular sight.
Here in Chuo Ward, Tori-no-ichi is held at two shrines: one is Matsushima Shrine, where I visited for this blog, and the other is Namiyoke Shrine in Tsukiji. Although the Tori-no-ichi held at Matsushima Shrine and Namiyoke Shrine is not as large as that of Ohtori Shrine, visiting them will allow you to experience a slice of Japanese culture. I bought a small rake with a lucky cat this year. Why don’t you buy one as well as me if you have the chance next year?
The rake I bought. This rake is decorated with a lucky cat.
15-2, 2-chome, Nihonbashi Ningyo-cho, Chuo-Ku, Tokyo