Every year, from January 8 to January 11, a “New Year Festival” is held at Tooka Ebisu Shrine, in Fukuoka East Park. I went to the last day of the festival.
If we talk about shrines that represent Fukuoka, Dazaifu Tenmangu, Hakozaki Shrine, and Kushida Shrine all come to mind. But for businesses that wish to be successful and prosperous, a visit to the Tooka Ebisu Shrine is essential. Kotoshironushi (the god Ebisu) and Okuninushi (the god Daikoku) are the deities worshipped in Tooka Ebisu Shrine, and people involved in trade and commerce visit this shrine in order to pray for a year of prosperity.
Hakozaki Shrine’s Tamaseseri Festival during early January is famous, but Tooka Ebisu Shrine’s Kachi Mairi (geishas’ walking visit) is just as popular. This only happens once a year in Hakata on the 9th day of January around late afternoon, and unfortunately I wasn’t able to go and see it.
I took the subway and got off at Chiyo-Kenchouguchi Station.
Taking the exit towards the shrine, I see the flag of Tooka Ebisu fluttering in the wind.
Since it was night time when I went, it was a bit dark.
And then, as I walked along the road to the shrine, lined-up yatai (food stalls) at the shrine grounds came into view.
They were selling omikuji (fortunes) and Ebisu rice cakes, too.
The ornaments at Tooka Ebisu Shrine.
This lucky charm, if hung and displayed in one’s house, is said to “invite good luck” into the household for the whole year. A thriving business, safety and well-being of family members, as well as good fortune and happiness will befall the household.
Ebisu, by the way, is the God of Sea, one of the Seven Gods of Luck. Said to bring a rush of business, among the Seven Gods of Luck, he is the only one to have originated in Japan. You will probably become more familiar with him if you look at the popular Ebisu Beer, where an image of Ebisu is depicted.
Finally, I’ve reached the place. I’ve passed through the torii of Ebisu Shrine.
As expected, the vibe and atmosphere in the shrine goes up in the evening.
Because it was the last day of the festival, it wasn’t as lively or crowded. There were, however, a lot of families, couples, and groups of people who seem to be colleagues.
This is how the shrine grounds look like.
When I came here to do a shrine visit three years ago, I was told that it’d take at least an hour to pay homage to the shrine deity, so I remember giving up on it. But there were only a few people today, so I was able to quickly do it.
I think that not a lot of foreigners know how to pay respects to the shrine deities.
Here’s a brief run-through:
Bow in front of the torii >> wash your hands at the chouzuya >> make an offering >> ring the bell once >> bow twice >> clap twice >> bow once
At the chouzuya, you must cleanse your hands and mouth. And then we make a small offering (a 5-yen coin would be great, as it sounds the same as goen, meaning fate). Ring the bell. Bow twice, clap twice, and then pray or make a wish. Finally, bow once.
It’s just simple, right?
After paying homage, I went around the shrine grounds.
There’s a store that sells lucky charms. There’s a place to draw your fortune, too.
There is also a poster for fukubukuro (lucky bags) pinned up.
Once done with the shrine visit, I went to the yatai, as expected.
Since it was the last day, it was not as busy, however there were still many food being sold.
Around 400 stalls were opened around Tooka Ebisu Shrine.
There were seriously a lot. There was yakitori, and even yakisoba was being sold.
I had a hard time choosing what to eat.
After going around checking different stalls, I finally chose a food stall staple, the hashimaki.
I bought a mentai hashimaki for 300 yen.
It was delicious, but there were other stalls that sold the hashimaki for only 200 yen.
And so this was how I spent my first shrine visit of the New Year.
Everybody too, please try to visit the Tooka Ebisu Shrine during the New Year Festival next year.