08 November, 2005

Sugamo Ohtori shrine / Tori-no-Ichi (the Cock fair) - part 1

Sugamo Oh-tori shrine is located near the Shige's condo, it takes about 10 minutes on foot. It's very small shrine and I've seldom seen the people visiting there. But Kazu, Shige's friend, taught me this shrine was famous for "Tori-no-Ichi".

There are many Oh-tori of shrines in Japan. It enshrine Oh-tori(Phoenix).
In 4th century, Japanese hero "Yamato Takeru" tried to beat northern tribes and got win after the fierce battles. At the beginning of the war, he had prayed their victory at Oh-tori shrine. After the war he visited the shrine again. He thanked god their victory and dedicated a weapon "Kumade" to the shrine. "Kumade" is a kind of rake used for sweeping the ground, but originally it was a weapon. The day of Yamato Takeru's visiting became a festival day of Oh-tori shrine. It was named "Tori-no-Ichi(the Cock fair)".

"Tori" means birds but this sound of Japanese also means "take", "get" or "earn". From that sound, people of Edo era (around 16-17th century) thought "Tori-no-Ichi" could be the festival for "getting" wealth, happiness or luck. Then it became a festival for ordinary people who lived in urban area like merchants, carpenters and others, and "Kumade" became a symbol of "raking" wealth and luck.

The "Tori-no-Ichi" of this year(2005) are 9th and 21st November. A lot of "Kumade" manufacturer will open the stores in the precincts of the shrine, and a lot of people will gather to buy decorated "Kumade".
If you are living in Tokyo area, I recommend you to visit the "Tori-no-Ichi" of the Hanazono shrine of Shinjuku or the Asakusa Oh-tori shrine. I bet you'll be surprised their atmosphere of excitement.
Do you want to go there, Lee?
No way! I don't want to be stomped on. I'll go to the Sugamo Oh-tori shrine.

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