Just because the leaves are golden (or gone), and the temperature has fallen, doesn’t mean the festival numbers have gone down along with it. As always, you’ll be able to eat tasty yatai street food, purchase cool trinkets, and enjoy being outside in the crowd… Just remember to bring your jacket!
Fall in Japan means it’s time for “Tori-No-Ichi” festivals; literally; “market held on the day of the rooster” (the old Chinese calendar noted the day of the rooster comes every 12 days in November). Here, all sorts of things are sold to get ready for the busy time at the end of the year and bring luck for the coming year, including kumade rakes, which are blessed charms businesses buy to “rake in cash” by hanging them in their establishments. Some of these ornately decorative charms are over US$1000, but many are priced within reason if you fancy picking one up.
31 Oct-1 Nov, 12-13 Nov, 25-26 Nov 2018
If you have business in the Shinjuku area over the next month, you can’t go wrong visiting Hanazono shrine; wedged literally in the middle of the ward’s government complex. This Tori no Ichi festival is over 400 years old and even though the neighboring Golden Gai and Kabukicho area is as modern as ever, there’s no sign of this old-school fall festival falling out of style.
Address: 5-17-3 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo
Access: Shinjuku San-chome station [M09][F13][S02]; Shinjuku Station [JB10][JC05][JA11][JY17][JS20][OH01][KO01]
Web: http://www.hanazono-jinja.or.jp (Japanese)
1, 13, 25 Nov 2018
Admittedly not exactly a hop and a skip away from the main action that happens around Senzō-ji to the south, the festival at Ōtori Jinja is still worth the extra walk because of the “shitamachi” factor. Shitamachi is one of Tokyo’s oldest neighborhoods, and you’ll be mingling with
1, 13, 25 Nov 2018
The other major place to catch this same festival is in the city of Fuchū, in Tokyo’s western suburbs. There are many stalls in place here and it is also customary to get a “financial fortune” read if you are a business owner or have a venture you wish to embark on in the coming year. For practical purposes, Okunitama is also only a short 5-minute walk from Fuchu station and there’s a huge mall complex in between so you can make a good day of it if you plan right.
31 Oct-31 Dec 2018
Japan’s Second City gets lit with the latest in LED tech, turning the bay shore next to “Elephant Trunk Park” into a digital nighttime art installation. The main festival happens from Oct 31 until Nov 4, but the lights will be on until the end of the year, helping out with winter holiday illumination duty.
Address: Zō no Hana Park, 1-1-1 Kaigandori, Naka-ku, Yokohama, Kanagawa
Access: Nihon-Odori Station [MM05]
17, 18 Nov 2018
Remember the coffee festival we reported on in the springtime on the grounds of the UN University’s flea market? This is the same thing, just with sake making the rounds. More than 30 makers of Japan’s signature adult beverage will have their wares out for tasting, so make sure you “pregame” accordingly!
around 15 Nov
You’ll likely notice a lot of well-dressed parents toting along their three, five and seven-year-old children clad in their best kimono around this time. They are heading to area shrines to pray for the children’s future health and good fortune, and also take family photos that will become keepsakes for their generation. Not necessarily a festival exactly, but some local shrines have set up a food and games stall or three to entertain the families waiting; you can simply hang out and people watch for a spell if inclined.
— By Jason L. Gatewood
Images: Okunitama Tora-no-Ichi by Jason L Gatewood