By David, long-term Tokyo resident & food-loving traveler
2019 is coming to a close. Following the Chinese zodiac that is traditionally also used in Japan, 2020 is the Year of the Rat. Rat and mouse are called nezumi in Japanese. The picture above of the mouse wearing a chanchanko winter kimono jacket is one of the decorations for the New Year up at Sensoji Temple in Asakusa. If you are in Japan now, you will see many goods and decorations with mice and other New Year designs.
Japan has many New Year traditions. Families come together, decorate homes and shops, eat traditional New Year food, and visit shrines and temples. The first days of the New Year are holidays for many. The first visit to a shrine or temple of the year is called Hatsumode. In Asakusa, the most popular places for hatsumode are Sensoji Temple and Asakusa Shrine.
During a temple or shrine visit, you can get omikuji, the paper fortunes that every shrine and temple has. It is customary to take the lucky paper with you and leave the unlucky ones behind. There are places to tie up the unlucky omikuji. For extra good luck select an omamori charm. There are many different kinds, from general good fortune to safe travels, good health, and business success.
At the end of the old year and the beginning of the new one, many lucky items are especially made for the coming year, for 2020 decorated with a rat or mouse. Browse the shops near Sensoji Temple where and pick up lucky items and souvenirs for the Year of the Rat 2020.
Walk up Senso-ji Temple’s Nakamise Street from Kaminarimon Gate. When you get to the last shops and stand in front of the large red Hozomon Gate turn right. The shop on the far corner is Nakaya Hoten, located in front of the temple bell. Nakaya sells traditional clothes and accessories worn at festivals. At the end of the year, they have a fun selection of figurines and accessories designed with lucky motives.
Fujie is located just a minute from Nakaya Honten on the narrow street past the playground. Fujie sells tenugui, traditional textiles with carefully crafted designs. Tenugui can be used as small towels, but the ones sold here are beautiful pictures you can decorate your home with. Check out the seasonal designs for the New Year.
Local shops nearby
Continue on the same street towards the Tokyo Metro Ginza Line Asakusa Station Exit 1. There are several small interesting shops here. They have a great selection of textile decorations and accessories. You can also buy nice post cards at a local stationary stores. Japanese people usually send each other New Year cards. You could also write your friends, family, or colleagues. For more shopping in Asakusa, I also recommend the Shin-Nakamise and Orange-Dori streets.
Click the link below to read this related article you might like: “Shopping for stationery lovers in Tokyo - Stock up on Japanese paper, pens, ink, and notebooks.”
Yanaka is another old Tokyo district Another where it is fun to browse the local shops. There is even a shop that specializes in manekineko, the waving lucky cats. Click the link below to read this related article you might like: “Yanaka Ginza - shopping for foodies and cat lovers in this charming old Tokyo district - Try Japanese style “tabe-aruki” and explore the area eating and walking”