“Tori-no-ichi” is a kind of open-air market held in November on the day of “Tori” in Chinese calendar. It was originally a harvest festival for peasants, but since around the Edo period it has become a place to pray for a health, fortune and good business, and highly decollated bamboo rakes have also become the essential item. Many people believe the rake brings them happiness and prosperity in business. Believers bring their old rakes back to the shrine or the temple where they bought last year and buy new ones for the coming new year.
I had an opportunity to join the festival on November 20. It was held at Saiko-ji Temple in Toyohashi located in the southeast of Nagoya. One of my Tai Chi friends lives in Toyohashi and he invited me to the fair. He also showed me around the temple by the tram.
First, we went to Toyohashi Park, which is a ruin of a castle called Yoshida-jo. Now there a restored storehouse stands quietly beside a 300-year-old big isunoki tree, or distylium racemosum.
Second, we visited a Japanese Orthodox church. This building is one of the three important cultural properties of the Orthodox Church in Japan and called “Holy Apostle and Evangelist Matthew Church”. Unfortunately we could not enter the 100-year-old church with a dignified air at that time…
Third, the place we headed for after the church was a Japan’s shrine named Akumi-Kambe-Shinmei-sha. The shrine is famous for a festival called Oni-Matsuri in February. The festival is to pray for the productiveness of grains and its main act is a fighting between an “oni” goblin and a “tengu” god. The festival has an about 1000-year-old history.
Finally, we arrived at Saiko-ji Temple where “Tori-no-ichi” was being held. There were many stalls before the temple and it was setting the mood for the festival. Near the gate there was a stand selling special bamboo rakes, and many people were buying ones from venders in happi coats. When you buy a rake, the venders clapped with the beat and cheered to you.
It is not enough to buy a rake at the festival. You have to bring the rake inside the temple and make it have power from Buddhist priests there. Otherwise, the rake is just an ornament without supernatural power.