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Asakusa Hagoita Market

The gorgeous hagoita lining the stalls

The gorgeous hagoita lining the stalls
© Asakusa Temple

Do you know the Asakusa Hagoita Market, a year-end seasonal tradition in Tokyo? At the Hagoita Market held at Asakusa Temple over three days from December 17th to 19th each year, approximately 30 stalls stand side-by-side, and bright and colorful ranges of hagoita (collage paddles) are lined up and displayed for sale. The temple grounds bustle with crowds of people, some of whom wish to buy hagoita, a good luck talisman for the New Year; others come to experience a market whose atmosphere retains vestiges of the Edo Period. In addition to the many local people in attendance, there are numerous tourists from overseas.

Hagoita were originally recreational equipment used to strike a shuttlecock in the game of battledore (a forerunner of badminton), however, as a “paddle to strike back evil,” they came to be seen as a talisman that could be used to drive away evil spirits. From this grew the practice of displaying hagoita at the New Year, and a tradition was also born of giving them to households to which daughters had been born.

Mukōjima-Hyakkaen Gardens

There are also displays of colored
©Asakusa Temple

Of the oshi-e hagoita (padded collage paddles) that are sold at the Hagoita Market; the main styles depict images of women dressed in beautiful kimono and kabuki actors, etc. It is also possible to see hagoita whose designs feature famous people who have been of note during a particular year. These unique hagoita are referred to as kawarihagoita (literally “different hagoita”).

Furthermore, other thrills of the Hagoita Market are being able to listen to the craftsmen who draw visitors to their stalls by proudly hawking their wares, and participating in the ceremonial hand claps that send purchasers on their way. In the temple grounds, there are not just hagoita for sale, rather stores are lined up that sell a range of New Year talismans such as shuttlecock-plumes, kites and daruma dolls, etc., and there are the echoing shouts of encouragement that call for prosperity while warding off the cold. As an event that sees out the current year, what about coming along to this year-end tradition?

Asakusa Hagoita Market
■Dates & Times: December 17th (Wed.), 18th (Thu.) and 19th (Fri.), 2014
  From approx. 9:00 am to 9:00 pm each day

■Location: The grounds of Asakusa Temple (in Japanese only)

■Official Tokyo Travel Guide GO TOKYO

■“Hagoita Market at Sensoji Temple, Asakusa“ (a video with English subtitles) (Hagoita Merchants Association)