Tori No Ichi matsuri happens on the 10th and 22nd of November every year. We had the fortunate experience of attending last night as it was in the neighbourhood of our Ryokan. This is a festival to bring good luck, and the locals come to pray at the temple and eat as well as buy these decorative rakes that have all sorts of symbolic pieces to it. Some are made entirely of cats, dolls or good luck charms and come on a hay wreath of sorts attached to a bamboo pole. They are carried up above your head and come in all sizes, and when they are purchased the people clap their hands and say a cheer to wish them luck.
Let me put this experience in perspective, so you can imagine yourself there. It's dark, but lit with huge Japanese lanterns of white and red, and there are thousands of people packed into the streets that are lined with food stands that literally go for miles. Every street food you can imagine, BBQ skewers and seafood of all kinds , noodles, octopus balls, cups of hot steaming sake, and plenty of treats for the kids such as chocolate dipped bananas and waffle sticks. And people carrying these rakes. Somehow we got swept up in the crowd and ended up at the temple where there was a huge crowd all going to be blessed or to pray. The only white folks in sight, and trying to take it all in. This night will go down in our books as a cultural encounter unlike any we have experienced!