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Hagoita Market: A Tradition of Luck and Blessings at Sensoji Temple

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2023.11.30 (Thu)

By Dan Lewis, inbound tourism adviser and consultant, long-term Japan resident & outdoor activity enthusiast.

As the year draws to a close, the annual Hagoita Market at Sensoji Temple unfolds, capturing the essence of tradition and spirituality. This market, held around the auspicious day of Kannon Bosatsu, particularly on December 18, known as "Osameno-Kannon" or Kannon of the end of the year, has a rich history that dates back to the Edo period.

Originally named "Toshi-no-ichi" during the Edo period, the market gained prominence as stalls selling New Year's goods and lucky charms converged on the temple grounds. With time, the focus shifted towards Hagoita, wooden shuttlecocks adorned with symbolic significance. The tradition of the Senso-ji temple's New Year's market, later known as "Hagoita-ichi," flourished as more stalls showcased these intricate boards.

Hagoita, once considered good-luck talismans, held symbolic value due to the resemblance of the feathers to dragonflies, which were believed to ward off diseases. The "beans" attached to the tips of the feathers symbolized a blissful life. Over time, it became customary to gift Hagoita to the household of a newborn girl, adding a cultural dimension to the tradition.

Today, the Hagoita Market at Sensoji Temple is a testament to cultural richness, with dozens of stores lining the temple precincts. Onlookers are treated to the dazzling designs of the Hagoita boards and the captivating speeches of shopkeepers. This poetic tradition during the New Year's holiday showcases the enduring charm of Hagoita and its role in preserving cultural heritage.

The market, spanning three days from December 17 to 19, continues to attract locals and visitors alike. The stalls, echoing traditions from centuries past, offer a glimpse into the cultural tapestry of Asakusa. Visitors immerse themselves in the vibrant atmosphere, enjoying the legacy of this centuries-old market. Beyond the cultural experience, the Hagoita Market serves as a treasure trove for unique souvenirs, offering items that cannot be found elsewhere. As visitors explore the market, they not only embrace the historical significance but also find one-of-a-kind mementos to cherish and share, making it a must-visit destination for those seeking a blend of history, spirituality, and distinctive keepsakes.

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