At a festival in Kanda Myojin near the famous Akihabara district in central Tokyo I saw these two dressed up Gods from the Japanese mythological pantheon, Ebisu and Daikokuten. They are both members of the most commonly appearing Japanese God “band”, the Seven Gods of Fortune (七福神 Shichifukujin). Ebisu is the slightly crippled and deaf God of fishermen, workingmen and luck, and is usually shown holding a large fish and a rod in his distinctive hat. Daikokuten is the god of Darkness and also associated with luck and the household, especially the kitchen. He is usually shown holding his magic hammer which can tap out anything wished for. When not standing at shrines in central Tokyo he is usually seen sitting on two bales of rice, so full that mice gather around to catch what falls out of them.
It is not very common to see the Gods acted out like this at shrines and temples in Japan so I took the opportunity to catch these two fellows when they showed up. You can see other posts about Kanda Myojin and the festivals there here.
Yesterday was the first of the two Torinochi market days on the calendar for this year. I had a lot of work today and couldn’t go myself but here are some photos that I took last year at the Hanazono Shrine in Shinjuku. Let me quote myself about the meaning and background of the Torinoichi tradition:
“November the 10th is the first of the annual Torinohi, two or three days in November when traditional tornoichi markets are being held in many shrines and temples throughout Japan. The fact that both religions, shinto and buddhism, celebrate this tradition is interesting, the only difference between them is their reason for doing it. In all places the main object is to trade in the traditional kumade (熊手, or bear’s hand) decoration pieces, sometimes as small as 500 yen coin, and sometimes big enough to cover a small wall, there are all kinds of kumade and all the traders take great pride in displaying as much of their wares as possible. The basic form of the kumade comes from the humble garden rake, and the kumade is said to symbolize the raking in of health, happiness and health. It is traditional for local business to buy one each year to display in their shops. Whatever your belief is, the magic of the kumade actually works as it attracts customers. I personally always stop in front of a shop displaying a good kumade, giving the proprietor of the shop a chance to wheel me in and make a sale. The tradition is always buy a larger kumade than last year, so if you plan on following the tradition I would recommend starting out as small as possible, even though the sly tradesmen will always try to sell you their biggest!”
There is one more Torinoichi this year and I hope to catch it!
This year saw the 733rd Oeshiki ceremony at Tokyo’s Ikegami Honmonji Temple in the southern Ota Ward. Among the performers were the usual matoi dancers, laymen followers of the Nichiren temples who take part in the festivities by twirling their matoi around their bodies. These matoi are about 10kg heavy but the guys make it seem very easy. I especially liked these two men who did pretty fantastic two person set where they mirrored each other’s movements to great effect. The crowd was mighty pleased! Even as I was taking these I was thinking how much one of them reminded me of Johnny Depp, same stern features, the scraggly beard and the dark eyes! Very striking! I for one would be happy to see matoi dancing as an olympic sport!
As usual, please click the images for full picture quality!