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Let's Visit Hozuki-Ichi (Ground Cherry Pod Fairs)!

Ricardo loves Japan's summers. On this occasion, he is talking about summertime events to Kanae, his work colleague.

Let's Visit Hozuki-Ichi (Ground Cherry Pod Fairs)!

Ricardo

When summertime rolls around each year, I take my family to see firework displays and various festivals, however, do you know if there are any other traditional Japanese events held during the summer?

Kanae

What about hozuki-ichi?

Ricardo

Hozuki-ichi? That's a term I haven't heard before.

Kanae

When I was a small child, at around this time of year, every year, I looked forward to attending hozuki-ichi. They are fairs and markets selling the plant called "hozuki," known in English by the names "ground cherry pod" and "Japanese lantern plant".

Ricardo

I see…

Kanae

Have a look at this photo on my smartphone. We call this plant "hozuki" in Japanese.

Ricardo

Wow, look at that beautiful orange color! It really resembles a paper lantern.

Kanae

Yes, and inside there are seeds that are round and shiny.

Ricardo

It actually looks rather delicious. Is it edible?

Kanae

Apparently there are varieties of hozuki that are edible; however, the plant is mainly enjoyed as something decorative. At hozuki-ichi, you can find many, many potted plants like this one being sold.

Ricardo

I am really impressed by the vividness of color and the cuteness of this plant. I reckon my children would be overjoyed to see something like this.

It seems that Ricardo has become interested in hozuki-ichi.

Ricardo

Where are such events held?

Kanae

The one I always attend is the hozuki-ichi at Senso-ji Temple in Asakusa. It has been held since the Edo Period and thus boasts a lot of history. It is held on July 9th and 10th. July 10th is known as a fortunate day called "Shimanrokusennichi" (literally "46,000 days"), visiting the temple on this day is said to provide benefits equivalent to 46,000 days' worth of visits.

Ricardo

46,000 days' worth of visits? That is approximately 126 years' worth. I cannot miss such an opportunity! However, why is hozuki-ichi also held on the 9th in addition to the 10th of July?

Kanae

The reason is that, because pilgrims traditionally wanted to be the first to pray at Senso-ji on the auspicious day of July 10th, many went to the temple from the day before. This resulted in July 9th also becoming a fortunate day. Furthermore, after praying at the temple, there came into existence the established tradition of buying a souvenir at the hozuki-ichi on the way home.

Ricardo

I see! Are there hozuki-ichi held at other locations as well?

Kanae

Yes, such events are held at various locations throughout Japan. Here in Tokyo as well, there is the Bunkyo Asagao and Hozuki-Ichi (Morning Glory and Japanese Lantern Plant Market) in Bunkyo City and also the Kagurazaka Matsuri (Festival). Because these events are held on different days, you might enjoy visiting a number of them.

Ricardo

To start with, I think I will visit the hozuki-ichi at Senso-ji that you recommended.

Kanae

I hope you do! It is a very lively environment with the sales girls lined up in front of the stalls calling to customers while selling their wares. The sound of the wind chimes attached to the plants also conveys a certain coolness that offsets the summer heat, and there are many people dressed in yukata (summer cotton kimono). I think you will be able to experience something uniquely Japanese. Additionally, there are lots of different food stalls set up at the fair.

Ricardo

It sounds really enjoyable; I'll definitely make an effort to go there with my family.

Some of the "Hozuki-ichi" held in Tokyo

●Senso-ji (Senso-ji Temple) (held July 9th and 10th, 2014)

●Kagurazaka Matsuri (Festival) (held July 23rd and 24th, 2014)

●Bunkyo City (held July 19th and 20th, 2014)