It’s been quite some time since I wrote something about my travels and trips in Japan. This is mainly because I had almost no time to travel, but that is going to change again real soon! During these past weeks there were two big events here in Japan: Halloween and the Tori no Ichi fair. The next big trip though, already planned and booked, will be to Hokkaido (23rd of November until the 27th of November).
I’ve never really celebrated Halloween before I came to Japan, because it is not such a big deal in the Netherlands (there are some parties, but it’s nothing in comparison to Japan). Japanese people love Halloween. In the weeks and days before Halloween you’ll be able to spot all sorts of Halloween attributes and advertisements everywhere.
When I was doing my weekly grocery shopping, I saw a lot of Halloween things displayed near the fruits and vegetables section. They were trying to sell pumpkin slices by putting up big banner, posters and toys.
And somewhere in the week before Halloween, you could donate blood at the University. To make it more attractive, to draw attention and because it makes a lot of sense to donate blood during Halloween, they placed a big Halloween arch near the entrance of the donation tent. I’ve seen these inflatable arches around car dealers, shopping malls and other smaller stores as well.
During the weekend before Halloween, there were also a lot of parties in and around Tokyo. The biggest one was in Shibuya, where lots and lots of people would dress up as their favorite anime character, nurse, cowboy, et cetera.
Tori no Ichi fair: food
Yesterday evening we went to the Tori no Ichi fair in Asakusa, Tokyo. This open-air market is held every year on the day of the Tori (which means ‘Rooster’ in English). This day comes from the Chinese calendar and the event is still going on every year ever since the Edo period.
This wouldn’t be a Japanese festival if there weren’t many stands with different sorts of food (and some drinks as well, but mostly food). You can buy all sorts of bites and bigger meals with various kinds of fish, meat and vegetables.
We wanted to start with something sweet, so we had some Bebi Kasutera (‘baby castella’). This popular Japanese desert resembles sponge cakes. They can be modeled in various shapes and sizes. The baby castella is a bite-sized version of the Kasutera. The version that we ate looked a little bit like the cat in the picture below. They were so tasty that I forgot to take a picture of the actual cakes .. So I’ll try to do so the next time I’ll go to a festival or fair.
Next up was the so-called okonomiyaki. Traditionally, these Japanese pancakes were cooked to use up left overs from other meals. Because of this tradition, the ingredients that are used for these pancakes are quite flexible. We had some noodles, vegetables, pork and eggs in there. It was oishii (= delicious in Japanese).
They had many more dishes that you could try and eat at the market. Some looked very tasty and other not at all. There were bananas covered in chocolate, different kinds of sausages and meat, various dishes with fish and octopus and many more.
Tori no Ichi fair: other stands
During this event, you could not only buy food, but also special Bamboo rakes for good luck. These rakes are highly decorated with different colors and different attributes. Some had masks on them and other small birds or cats. There were so many things attached to these rakes that it was impossible to view all of the components at once. Nonetheless, the rakes were beautiful.
Prayers at the fair
For Japanese people it is also very common to do a prayer on this day. You go to the temple, say your prayer and rings the bells afterwards. People were lining up for at least a hundred meters to be able to ring the bells. Around the prayer area you could see lots of lanterns lighting up the market.
Visited the Tori no Ichi fair on the 11th of November, 2016