On certain days in November the Asakusa shrine holds a 'market', called Asakusa Tori no Ichi. That was all we knew, so we didn't know what to expect, but of course we went anyway. As we neared the site, we noticed that policemen were controlling the oncoming crowd and soon we knew that was indeed needed too. With huge amounts of people coming and going, we saw there was a queue and we assumed that was to enter the market. The queue was at least 250 meters long and going at a very slow pace. When we reached the entrance of Asakusa, we saw that the queue wasn't for the market, it was actually for saying a prayer at the shrine. As we had had been standing in line for quite a while, we decided to throw a coin as well.
The market wasn't what we expected either. Apparently it was for a specific kind of lucky charm for the new year. The charm was quite big; a large decoration was attached to a bamboo pole and you could buy them in a lot of different sizes. The smaller ones were already expensive, making the bigger ones hundreds of euros. There was not one market stall to sell these items, but about one hundred, each one specialising in a different kind of decoration. After wandering around a while looking at the kumade, as they were called, we bought a very small one which was expensive enough already.
Around the lucky charm market were food stalls, lots and lots of them. We've never seen so many food stalls together and each one was selling their wares as if it was free. We tried out different things that we didn't know, like a chocolate-covered banana and a meat-filled, flat, bapao-like, round, baked pastry. Quite nice actually! The market/fair would be open until midnight and we saw many (local) people sitting, chatting and recognising each other. You could see it was a real happening for the neighbourhood, even when many people not from there were visiting the shrine.