What is En-nichi?
En-nichi is a day thought to have a special relation with a particular Japanese deity in Shinto and Buddhism, and a commemoration or festival held to celebrate it. It has a long history, and the celebration started during the Heian era (794 – 1192), when Buddhism became widely practiced. It is commonly believed that visiting a shrine or temple on En-nichi brings greater fortune than on a regular day. Shop owners set up their stalls and outdoor stands at shrines and temples on these holy days, because they can expect large crowds with potential customers. For example, Kobo-ichi Market is held at To-ji Temple in Kyoto on the 21st of each month. This is to commemorate the anniversary of Kukai’s death, which was on March 21st. And the Tenjin-ichi market is held on the 25th of each month at Kitano Tenman-gu Shrine in commemoration of Sugawara no Michizane’s birthday, which was on June 25th, and his death was on February 25th. En-nichi became more and more popular during the Edo era (1603 – 1867), and the number of stalls and stands also grew. Today, en-nichi lost much of the religious connotation, and it is simply a fun day with favorite entertainments at shrines and temples all across Japan.
En-nichi is one of the typical childhood memories for Japanese people, and the events are full of distinctive Japanese cultural atmosphere. Visitors should try these traditional outdoor events, and enjoy outdoor stands and festive air with local people.
The stands offer favorite food and snacks for Japanese people
The highlights at en-nichi is quick and simple Japanese meals from food stands. Once you step in the en-nichi venue, the smell of various food stimulates your appetite. The typical en-nichi food includes round “takoyaki” octopus dumplings made with octopus, leek, and red ginger stuffed in batter with broth, the “yakisoba” Chinese fried noodles with pork and vegetables and flavored with sauce, and the “ikayaki”, grilled squid with soy sauce. En-nichi food is all hearty and affordable as much as five hundred yen.
There are some desserts that are only available at En-nichi: These include the “wata-ame” cotton candy, the oval pancake-like “baby castella” sponge cakes, the sweet and crisp “karume-yaki” sponge toffee, and the red “ringo-ame” caramelized apples. These are old-fashioned sweets that people eat at En-nichi. It is a not-to-miss at en-nich to tryout various flavors common to Japanese people for centuries.
Attractions loved by both children and adults
The next thing to do is visit games and activity stands. such as shooting galleries, ring toss games, goldfish scooping, fishing for yo-yos in a small pool, and die-cutting candy. Most games and activities are available at as little as a few hundred yen. If you can scoop the goldfish, you can take them home , but maybe it is the best to return them back in the tank if you are still traveling to other places.
Other than the food stands and activity stands, children’s favorite is also the masks of popular characters such as Hello Kitty, Pokemon, and superheroes. At more traditional en-nichi, there are also stalls selling antiques items, vintage clothing, daily commodities, food items and souvenirs.
In case of en-nichi in a large size or at a famous temple or shrine, it brings more businesses tothe shopping arcades and businesses surrounding neighborhoods as well. In addition, depending on the time of the year, there are other events featuring seasonal plants and flowers such as Chinese lantern plants and morning glories, and festivals held in thanksgiving for good harvests all throughout Japan.
If you go on a major en-nichi, you can certainly enjoy for well over half a day there. You do not even need to eat or buy anything , but it is still a very cultural experience to visit a temple or a shrine on a holy day, and get in a festive atmosphere at a shrine or a temple.
Schedule of main Ennichi days in Tokyo.
*Outdoor stands, stalls, etc. may not be able to open in a certain weather condition.
- Nishiarai Daishi Temple (21st of every month) (Japanese)
- Suiten-gu Shrine (5th of every month) (Japanese)
- Meguro Fudoson Temple (28th of every month) (Japanese)
- Enmei Kosodate Jizoson Temple (2nd, 12th, 22nd of every month) (Japanese)
- Iriya Kishimojin Iriya Morning Glory Fair (July 6-8) (Japanese)
- Senso-ji Temple Chinese Lantern Plant Fair (July 9, 10)
- Ikegami Honmon-ji Temple Oeshiki (A festival held on the anniversary of Nichiren Shonin’s death / October 11 – 13)
En-nichi throughout the year!?
If your itinerary doesn’t include a holy day at a temple or a shrine, some commercial complexes have en-nichi all year around. These facilities are usually covered, or located indoor, so that there is no weather issue for the event.
Odaiba, Tokyo Ooedo-Onsen-Monogatari
This is a hot spring theme park in Odaiba, Tokyo. This facility houses the replicas of the townscapes from the Edo era, including games such as rubber ball fishing and shops selling old time crafts reminiscent of the Edo era. And of course the hot tubs are filled with natural hot spring water. This is where you can enjoy both the Ennichi atmosphere and relaxation in the hot tub.
Shin-Yokohama Raumen Museum
Shin-Yokohama Raumen Museum is set up as a theme park that offers varieties of ramen noodles from across the country. The retro-style interior recreates the look from the Showa 30s (1955-1964) townscape, and sets up the early evening hours of right after the sunset, when people used to stop at the ramen noodle stands. This facility features nine ramen stalls, accompanied by other stores that used to be everywhere in Japanese cities such as penny candy stores, toy stores and others, which are still common at Ennichi events.