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Before I went to Nagoya, I enjoyed my first Matsuri, Japanese festival, right here in Tokyo at a local shrine: It was the Torino ichi festival held at the Hanazono Jinja Shrine.  All along the densely packed streets of Tokyo near the shrine people were carrying poles with elaborately designed decorations on the ends of them.  Something like this.

decorations from the Torino Ichi Festival

So my friend Reiko Manabe and I walked into the Shrine …into such a dense pack of people, we couldn’t move forward.  All along the sides of the walkway were booths selling food and even a snake show.

Entrance into the Hanazono Jinja

Most of the photos came out blurry, but hopefully you’ll get the idea… It was amazing!







Once into the shrine there was a whole section of different vendors selling the poles with decorations.  Reiko and I imagined they were extremely expensive.

Another example


















Hundreds of people waited to get into the Shrine building….

So Reiko was sweet and bought me what she thought was a souvenir… and one for herself.

But soon we realized that there was yet ANOTHER long line of people… each person with their elaborate and expensively designed decorations-on-a-pole…patiently waiting to…No!…Wait!… this can’t be true:

They are THROWING the poles back to the shrine. Literally, giving them up.

So we did the same.  Say a pray, a wish, a gratitude and then… give it up.

Giving back our good luck charms to...the deities? to the universe? to the tree? doesn't matter, just give it up, you know what I mean?

The pile of given-up charms... letting go...

so we passed the food venues...















...passed the lines of people waiting to pray...

...the fish in the display counter...









And we ended the evening in her favorite sushi bar, enjoying the delicacies and chatting about our dreamy experience at the Torino Ichi Festival…


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