Happy New Year! Celebrating New Year’s Eve at Oji Inari Parade 2019.01.09
I would like to wish anybody who is reading this words a happy New Year! It has been already one week since we greeted year 2019.
As a foreigner in Japan I wanted to experience the Japanese way of greeting New Year. While there are many fireworks and parties everywhere at New Year’s Eve in Europe, Japanese people seems to celebrate it in a very quiet manner, putting the main focus in visiting the shrines for the first time in year – hatsumoude 初詣 and praying for the success. Well, if I can compare this atmosphere to any of my country holiday, it would be definitely the Christmas Eve.
Looking for interesting way to spend New Year’s Eve in Japan I found the information about Oji Fox Parade in Tokyo and instantly decided to go there. So, here I would like to share how was it, maybe you would also find this event interesting and would like to visit it during the following New Year’s Eve!
ABOUT OJI INARI PARADE
According to the legend, on New Year’s Eve foxes from all of Inari shrines in eight counties in Kanto area are gathering as messengers of the god under a big Enoki tree to pray. This folk story was actually inspired by Hiroshige ukiyo-e woodprint from 1856 which pictures such a fantasy gathering.
Influenced by the Edo piece of art, Oji town legend gave birth to a „new tradition” a few decades ago and since then people disguised as fox: wearing kimono and fox mask, holding chochin lantern are taking part in the procession from Shozoku Inari Shrine through Gongenzaka slope to Oji Inari Shrine during the New Year’s Eve.
The parade is led by fox gods followed by the first group of 108 town people selected by organizer and the second group of public participants wearing fancy fantastic variations of fox make-up. To enter the procession you need to apply for entry in advance. Accompanied by the tune of flutes and drums tune parade starts at midnight and reach the Oji Jinja a few minutes before 1:00 a.m.
People queing to pray at Oji Inari Shrine while rites and fox dances are being held
Oji Inari Shrine
At the way of a parade there are few food stalls and fox goods shops where you can equip yourself with nice fox mask or chochin lantern which defintely brings more fun the whole experience!
I definitely recommend going on Oji Inari Parade during the New Year’s Eve. The fox disguises, fantastic masks, intriguing dance and folk sounds of flute and drum makes together an amazing atmosphere of some old Japanese folk spiritual ritual. I advise to come to Oji area earlier to find a good observating spot or buy a fox mask without staying in a huge crowds, as the events is quite popular, especially among the foreigners. Remember to wear a warm clothes and eqip yourself with some heaters from kombini, it gets really cold as you stand for an hour!
To get to Oji Shrine take the Keihin-Touhoku line from Yokohama Station and get off at Oji Station.
Flora Yokohama Hoshikawa: https://www.oakhouse.jp/eng/house/kanagawa/yokohama/flora-hoshikawa
I am an ordinary girl from small town in far away land of Poland, which tale is rather extraordinary, as no ending curiosity of the world got me to the Japanese Islands.