Hie Shrine is a Shinto shrine in Nagatacho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo. The enshrined deoty is Oyamakui-no-kami, the god of Mount Hie in Shiga prefecture. It is said that when Ota Dokan constructed Edo Castle in 1478, he erected a Sanno-Hie Shrine in the compound for a guardian deity of the castle. When Tokugawa Ieyasu was enfeoffed with Edo (present-day Tokyo), he relocated it to the grounds of Edo Castle, and worshipped the deity as the protector of Edo. The citizens of Edo also had strong faith in Hie Shrine as the founding god of their town. In 1607, when Ieyasu’s son, Tokugawa Hidetada, planned to make improvement on the castle, he moved the shrine out, so the people of Edo could worship there.
Sanno Festival held in June every year is one of the three great festivals of Edo; the others are Kanda Festival at Kanda Shrine in Chuo-ku and Fukagawa Hachiman Festival at Tomioka Hachiman Shrine in Fukagawa in Koto-ku. In the Edo period (1603-1868), Sanno Festival and Kanda Festival were also called “Tenka Matsuri,” which means the Shogun’s Festival, because the festivals were protected by the Tokugawa Shogunate and the festival processions were allowed to enter the grounds of Edo Castle for the Shogun to view them.
The high-spiritted Edokko (natives to Edo) would have said, “Sanno Festival is too refined, isn’t it?” Any way, why don’t you try experiencing one of these great festivals of Edo, if you have time?
Keiko Yoshida is the owner of Yoshida store in Daito-ku, Tokyo, that creates and sells Takarabune-kumade, or Treasure ship rakes, which are sold only at the Tori Fair of Ootori Shrine. Ms Yoshida was born in 1921 and is a master craftswoman recognized by Nihon Shokunin Meikoukai, the association for the Japanese Master Craftsmen.
Yoshida is currently the only store that creates Takarabune-kumade employing traditional methods, and Ms Yoshida continues to use the methods passed down since the Edo period. She initially started making the rakes to help her husband who was originally a carpenter. After his death, she became the head of the store and single-handedly manages the business.
Takarabune-kumade made by Yoshida store uses only natural materials of bamboo and paper. The whole manufacture process including cutting bamboo, cutting paper using a pattern, coloring, drawing faces, painting exterior, and insertion are done by hand. These techniques have been handed down to Ms Yoshida’s daughter, Kyoko.
Tori no Ichi, or Tori Fair, is a religious fair that takes place every November and is believed to have originally started at Ootori Shrine in Asakusa. Takarabune-kumade, or Treasure ship rake, is a harbinger of good luck, coming from a belief that rakes gather up good luck and prosperity, and they are available only at the Tori Fair of Ootori Shrine. The Takarabune rakes are currently made only in Yoshida store in Asakusa. The size of the rakes varies from 6cm to 3.4m. The store starts making the rakes immediately after the fair, taking a whole year to prepare for the following years event.
At first, paper is cut using a pattern, then lines are drawn followed by coloring. After the faces of Shichifukujin or the Seven Deities of Good Fortune, are drawn, they are inserted into the treasure ship with other decorations and finely balanced to finish. Drawing faces with their unique looks for the seven deities is the most difficult part. This hand drawing technique has been passed down for years since the Edo period. It is now practiced by Keiko Yoshida, head of Yoshida store, and her daughter, Kyoko.
Takarabune-kumade has brightly colored decorations of the seven deities, treasures and a sea bream. Although it is a rake with the tip of a straw festoon arranged to look more like a bow of a ship, it is created to have the look of a treasure ship. The rake, with its dominant red color, is referred to as a “red type” amulet. Takarabune-kumade is one of the most popular good luck charms in the Tori Fair of Ootori Shrine.
Komagata Daibutsu is a great Buddha statue located in Naganuma-cho, Inage-ku, Chiba City. It was set up in 1703 by Noda Gennai, who was a pharmacy commission merchant in Edo and developed paddy-fields in Naganuma village. He collected voluntary subscriptions from 60 nearby villages and set it up to pray for cure of illness and safe travel of the people and horses going up and down the Onari Kaido Road. It was designed and cast by Hashimoto Izaemon Fujiwara Shigehiro, a casting workman in Sanmacho, Asakusa, Edo. This 2.4 m tall statue is the image of seated Amida Nyorai making Jou-in (meditation mudra) in front of the abdomen. The head and body were separately cast and joined together. The list of donators inscribed on the back of the statue shows that this Great Buddha was worshipped by a people in a wide range of area including Matsudo and Inbanuma. The Great Buddha still gently watches over the traffic on the Naganuma Kaido Street.
Beppu bamboo basketry is a traditional handicraft made in Beppu City, Oita Pref. The making of bamboo baskets in this area was first recorded in the Muromachi period (1392-1573). During the Edo period (1600-1868), demand for bamboo baskets abruptly increased as the hot spring of Beppu became well-known all over the country. In the Meiji period (1868-1911), when hot spring tourism in Beppu developed and a lot more tourists visited this hot spring town, which was called “Asakusa of Kyushu,” bamboo products were favored as souvenirs or daily necessities for people staying at a spa to cure diseases. The craft had been made as a by-work of farmers until then, but some workmen who specialized in making bamboo craft appeared during this period, which made Beppu the known-place for the production of bamboo basketry and the craft developed into a local industry. The main variety of bamboo used is madake (Phyllostachys bambusoides). Some other varieties such as hachiku, kurochiku, gomadake and medake are also used. There are eight fundamental techniques to bring out inherent beauty of bamboo as a material.
Ezaki Guji is an Edo lacquerware craftsman, and was born in 1913 in Akita prefecture.
Ezaki's father was a Kawatsura lacquerware craftsman. After graduation, Ezaki studied the craft of lacquerware from his father. In 1931, at the age of 18, he moved to Tokyo to study under a lacquering craftsman in Asakusa.
Edo lacquerware developed as a craft during the period of the fifth Tokugawa shogun Tsunayoshi (1646–1709), and was being used by commoners as everyday objects by the period of the eighth shogun Yoshimune (1684-1751).
Many different kinds of Edo lacquerware vessels and utensils are produced, including objects for the tea ceremony and for low tables.
Ezaki set up his own business in Katsushika-ku, Tokyo, in 1946. Until 1950, he lacquered and assembled sacred portable shrines for Tokyo's Asakusa district. Now, he is mainly engaged in lacquering drums, lion-dance masks and portable shrines.
Ezaki says: 'The basic preparation in lacquering is vital. The surface might look similar at first, but the longer you use it, the more tasteful the best ware gets.'
In 1995, he was designated as a Tokyo Traditional Craftsman of Katsushika-ku.
Yukio Minamikawa is an Edo Oshie Hagoita craftsman, and was born in 1929 in Sumida-ku, Tokyo.
In 1945, Minamikawa became involved in the production of 'hagoita' (battledores) under the instruction of his father. After that, he began making not only hagoita, but decorative items for himself to be shown at annual fairs held in May and March.
Every year, Minamikawa makes hagoita with a portrait of the symbolic person of each period. He makes hagoita for the Asakusa Hagoita Fair, held from 17th to 19th December, as well as dolls for May and March seasonal festivals.
He says: 'For the customers who are looking forward to my work, I will continue to make joyful hagoitas.'
Minamikawa is a director of the Tokyo Tori-no-Ichi Hagoita Association, a deputy director of the Tokyo Hina-doll Industry Association, and a president of Ayame-kai. In 1997, he was designated as a Tokyo Traditional Craftsman of Katsushika-ku.
A festival of thanksgiving for safety in the past year and a time to wish for happiness in the coming year is held annually in November on the Day of Tori (roosters) at Juzai-san Chokokuji Temple, also called Otori Sama (Otori Shrine), in Asakusa, Tokyo, and at many other Otori shrines.
The origin of the festival dates back to the Edo period, when farmers thanked the harvest god and dedicated chickens to the Otori Daimyo god at Hanamatamura (the Otori shrine in Hanabatake, Adachi Ward).
Hanamatamura, Shosenji Temple (in Adachi ward) and Chokokuji Temple (in Asakusa), became famous as the birthplace of Tori-no-Ichi fairs.
In the 8th year of the Showa period (1771), the Buddhist statue Myoken Dai-Bosatsu was moved to Chokokuji Temple and the shrine there came to be recognized as the pre-eminent Torishrine. Myoken Dai-Bosatsu is supposed to be the Hagun star, the Seventh Star star of the Big Dipper. The Chokokuji Temple crests are also called ‘Moon crests’ or ‘Big Dipper crests’.
These ‘rooster’ fairs are known as ‘Good Luck Rake Fairs’ because a rake is supposed to rake in happiness, and to help wish for good luck and a prosperous business. It is typical of Edo people, who like jokes.