Tori-no-Ichi is an annual auspicious Japanese festival that has been celebrated since the Edo era. Traditionally it is held in November on days of the Rooster, as indicated under the lunar calendar. In 2022, Tori-no-Ichi will be held on November 4, 16 and 28.

Celebrated at the stroke of midnight on the day of the rooster, which occurs every 12 days, the fair consists of a variety of shop owners that sell rakes to bring in good fortune and business prosperity!

Naturally, many shop and business owners attend this event in droves to purchase the perfect rake for themselves or their business. Not wanting to miss out on the fun and excitement of the fair, I grabbed my camera and headed out to Asakusa.

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What is Tori-no-Ichi?

Bamboo rake for Tori-no-Ichi

Tori-no-Ichi dates way back to the Edo era and originates from a fair that was held in the suburbs of Edo, where Ohtori Shrine now stands.

In its original form, it was a harvest festival and it was dedicated to the day of the rooster after a similar festival collected and released roosters in front of Senso-ji Temple.

As the event evolved throughout the years, many came to wish for good health, good fortune, and good business. One of the things that makes Tori-no-Ichi so special, are the Bamboo Rakes which are elegantly decorated and are said to bring happiness and prosperity.

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So, why are rakes sold at Asakusa’s Tori-no-Ichi?

Rakes were used to figuratively “rake” in your luck, gold and silver, and fortune for your business. Though originally paired with only an ear of rice, the rakes’ designs have significantly expanded to thousands of varieties for the Tori-no-Ichi Fair alone. In the Edo era, they added masks of Okame, which were known to bring good luck. Later on, more intricate designs were added, such as: treasures, Japanese fans, portable shrines, animals, and more! These days, you can even find some decorated with cats, dogs, pandas, and even a huge cat paw!

An Intricate Way of Buying

So, as I was wading through the hundreds of people, I was stunned at the huge selection of rakes that were available at the over 100 shops! Luckily, I was accompanied by a friend that was born and raised in the Asakusa area. Apparently, there is a specific way to purchase the rakes that involve a tradition that has been passed down throughout the years.

It all starts with negotiation, or haggling. Say if you want to buy a 50,000 yen rake, you ask the shop owner to make it 40,000 yen. Then a light-hearted and amusing conversation will take place, going back and forth with the shop owner like so:

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