Mai Lucky Day

Around the 10th of November, a festival called Tori no Ichi is celebrated throughout Japan. The festival originated in the Asakusa district of Tokyo, during the Edo period (when Tokyo was still called Edo), and has evolved since then into a national phenomenon dedicated toward summoning luck before the new year. Temples and shrines set up massive marketplaces full of festival foods and booths selling all kinds of charms and trinkets, particularly engi kumade, or "lucky rakes." These lucky rakes vary greatly in size and complexity, but the basic design includes a bamboo rake and sheaves of rice. The purpose of the rake is to "rake in the luck," as symbolized by the sheaves of rice - which actually, in turn, symbolize cold, hard cash.

(Tori no Ichi celebrations in Asakusa)

Why cold hard cash? Because Tori no Ichi is a festival dedicated to praying for commercial success more than anything else. Take a close look around any shop, restaurant, or other business in Japan, and you're likely to see an engi kumade hanging somewhere on the wall. Merchants purchase the engi kumade during Tori no Ichi and display it on the wall throughout the year, in hopes of attracting good business. When the year is up, the merchant must bring the engi kumade back to the shrine where it was purchased and offer a prayer before purchasing a new one for the next year. If the business grew over the course of the year, a larger, more imposing engi kumade is in order for next year. These engi kumade can be a meter wide or more, and can include all kinds of wild decorations, all with symbolic meaning. Common elements include daruma dolls, mini-lanterns, cranes, pine branches, bamboo leaves and plum blossoms (a New Year's good-luck symbol called sho-chiku-bai...fun fact, the "chiku" in sho-chiku-bai means "bamboo," but the same kanji is also used to spell the word "bakuchiku," which I think you all know), lucky fish, lucky cats, and images of the faces of the Seven Gods of Luck (Shichi Fukujin), especially Benzaiten, goddess of wisdom, wealth, music, art, and female beauty.


Here's Benzaiten...

(this famous statue of Benzaiten is located
in her shrine on Enoshima Island, Kanagawa prefecture)


And here are some typical engi kumade...

...which brings me to my main point, which is the extra special original handmade engi kumade pictured below. Come the New Year, it appeared mysteriously on the bathroom of a certain bar we're rather fond of..but something tells me that's not Benzaiten on there.


Props for the hanging bat and the toll-tally lucky drumsticks...but however appealing a handmade plushie of Imai Hisashi's head may be, I still have a feeling that Acchan-chan would say that this engi kumade needs more lucky cats.



Live and learn! And no, I'm not telling you where the bar is. Go out and find it for yourself.


  1. Thanks very interesting and a bit strange as I had just been researching goddesses for something else and came across Benzaiten and thought she was lovely. Someone has put a lot of love into making that and I have that fan I bought it at the show in Saitama.

  2. Interesting. Thanks. Nice BT themed piece
    More lucky cats would certainly have added to it. Looks like I have the same fan too though I still haven't had occasion to use it.

  3. Is there anybody here who doesn´t have that fan? lol

    1. I don't have that fan.

      I do, however, have a Lemoned hide yellow hearts design fan :)

  4. Thanks, it was great to read. Only some time later I realized how skilfully we were led through a layer of Japanese culture and the images of engi kumade to that very extra special one. Truly, "no Buck-Tick, no life"!
    I wonder if the Japanese really believe those objects bring them luck or just keep a tradition.

  5. Thank you Cayce for the good Japanese tradition introduction! Didn't expect to see the benzaiten Imai san coming at the end though :D What a nice surprise!!
    I.... I did not buy the fan (too shy to use it in public) but I was one of the fans that would show up so~~~early for the goods even before the goods lines were formed...to grab (among all other sinful items) the most sinful ones: gummy cans, plus a slim chance of maybe Acchan-chan's trading card. Seeing the nice engi kumade here really makes me so jealous.... Why didn't I come up with the idea of building my BT Tower of Babel with those panda cans during Christmas?! (<- ok now this is really weird lol)

  6. Very interesting . thank you .
    I do not have any buck tick fan (is this how it is called ?) .
    I hope that they will last long enough , a few years , so that I will be able to buy . I do not know why but since I saw them for the first time I desired to one day have one . I do not know why , Iliked them .

    And also by the way dear Cayce I saw that buck tick will have again nico nico live ( but I could not understand all details ) . It will be two days , at 28 something and metafor nights and 1 something somthing day in question something . And something about the members that pay or do not pay ? The first day will everyone be able to see all or again half ?

    Who knows ?

    Anyway , I do not speak english not japanese .

  7. The somethings are the two movies and the tour .
    Sorry I was not looking before and I forgot .


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