In search of gorgeous and ornate good-luck charms—let’s go to “Tori no Ichi”!

Tori no Ichi, a festival that always bustles with festival goers, will be held in November at Ohtori Shrine in Asakusa. The venue decorated with countless kumade, a large, ornate lucky charm, is nothing but spectacular.

Tori no Ichi is a festival held in November at Ohtori shrines throughout Japan to wish for success in business. These Ohtori shrines enshrine “Yamato Takeru no Mikoto (or “Yamato Takeru” ),” a hero from Japan’s ancient history. Yamato Takeru is also known as a god of good harvests and business success. Based on that, people line up a countless number of large, ornate lucky charms called “kumade,” each of which is a “bunrei” of the god and in which our wish for business success is imbued.

Kumade is made with colorful motifs.

The most famous Tori no Ichi is the one held at Ohtori Shrine in Asakusa. About 150 booths centering around the shrine site sell kumade, attracting over 700,000 people every year. The design and the number of decorations on kumade vary widely. In recent years, new types of kumade, which are for a variety of wishes such as romantic relationships, health, and victory, are being sold for people from all walks of life to enjoy.

Ohtori Shrine in Asakusa.The Tori no ichi in previous years.

At Tori no Ichi, it is thought that the more cheaply you can buy kumade, the luckier you will become. Sellers and buyers negotiating on prices with so much energy, shouting “You win!” and “I won!”, is a usual sight of the festival. Once the price is fixed, the seller shouts a phrase energetically to indicate the deal is done and wishes good luck for the next year. Just for your information, if you succeeded in getting a discount, the classy way that has been practiced since old times is to give the discounted amount to the seller as “gift money”, instead of keeping it as change.

Another thing that you should remember is the position and the direction when putting kumade on display. It is said that the best way is to place it in a high place where many people gather and that different directions would bring different types of good luck: east for work and competition, west for money and wealth, and south for high status and honor.

The place where Kumade is sold. The energetic exchange between buyers and sellers is fun.

Another great thing about Tori no Ichi at Ohtori Shrine in Asakusa is that there will be about 700 food stalls. Once you have found and bought the gorgeous kumade that you like, warm yourself up with some food at the food stalls, and let’s immerse yourself in the whole festival experience.

■DATA Asakusa Ohtori shrine "2023 Tori-no-ichi" Address:Asakusa Ohtori shrine 3-18-7 Senzoku, Taito-ku, Tokyo Dates:Saturday, November 11, 2023 (1st rooster)     Thursday, November 23, 2023 (the 2nd rooster) Hours: 0:00 a.m. to 24:00 p.m. Official website: https://otorisama.or.jp/english.html

(Information as of October 2023.)