Tokyobling's Blog

Hanazono Shrine Torinoichi – Shinjuku

Posted in Japanese Traditions, People, Places by tokyobling on November 27, 2014

Having hurried all the way to Asakusa and then down all the way back to Shibuya on the last day of this year’s Torinoichi market, it was time to go up to Shinjuku and visit the most festive of the Torinoichi markets, at Hanazono Shrine. I have blogged about this one many times before, as it is the most accessible of all the markets. This year’s second market day was even busies than last year when we had three, and since it was on a Saturday it was even busier still!

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More Torinoichi at Hanazono Shrine

Posted in Japanese Traditions, Places by tokyobling on November 11, 2014

Still miffed that I missed the first Torinoichi market this year. The next one is on the 22nd of November, must make sure I do not miss this one (the last one!) too! I took these photos in the early evening of the first of the Torinochi days at Hanazono Shrine in the heart of Shinjuku.

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First Day of Torinoichi Market

Posted in Japanese Traditions, Places by tokyobling on November 10, 2014

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!

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Itsukushima Shrine Torii – Miyajima

Posted in Places by tokyobling on July 18, 2014

The grand torii of the Itsukushima Shrine is one of the many reasons that Hiroshima’s Miyajima Island is considered one of the top tourist attractions of Japan (in my opinion, even maybe the top attraction). At high tide the torii sits seemingly in the middle of the ocean but on low tide the water recedes and you can easily walk right up to it.

This torii was designed not to be anchored to the ground, it actually remains in place just by its own weight which makes it more or less earth quake proof. During high tide many tourist boats pass through ut and I as is customary people like to offer money to the gate. At low tide the money becomes visible in droves underneath the gate, in some places it piles up in droves. Still, to pick anything up or remove any of the money would be big no-no, so most people leave it alone where it is.

It was raining during most of my visit and together with this being a weekday afternoon meant that there were quite few other tourists during my visit. I even managed to meet one of the many wild deer out for a stroll later in the afternoon after the school kids and tourists had left.

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