Today we introduce Hagoita Market, a famous winter event in Taito City that adds color to the end of the year.
Originally starting in the Edo period (1603-1867), stalls selling New Year's goods and lucky charms gathered on the temple grounds in anticipation of the crowds. The event came to be known as "Toshi-no-ichi” or New Year’s market. And although this market was also held at other temples and shrines, Sensoji Temple's market was very crowded and the largest of its kind, with stores lined up from Asakusabashi to Ueno.
Even today, from December 17 to 19, dozens of stalls selling Hagoita (wooden shuttlecock boards) line the grounds of the temple. The Hagoita is a racket-like tool used for "Hanetsuki," a traditional Japanese game played mainly during the New Year's holiday.
Originally regarded as a good-luck talisman, Hagoita were customarily given to the house where a girl was born. This custom became popular and Hagoita replaced daily necessities as the mainstay of the New Year's market, with the interaction between customers and the traditional Hagoita craftsmen being a fun part of the market.
The Hagoita, the main feature of the festival, has many decorations including the standard Kabuki designs and "Sesou Hagoita" depicting the year's celebrities, politicians, athletes, characters, and so on. Various good luck charms, such as sambonjime, a three-stringed Japanese banner, are also available for buyers of Hagoita.
Visitors to the Hagoita Market at Sensoji Temple will see booth after booth selling the colorful and decorative kabuki style wooden paddles. These are a sharp contrast to the stunning red construction of the main gate, another popular photo area, and the deep blue of the evening sky. Why not come out and enjoy the festive atmosphere just by looking at the many Hagoita?