Ennichi (縁日)

Ennichi are days when people have a spiritual connection with Shinto or Buddhist deities. Days related to Shinto or Buddhist deities such as their births, manifestations and oaths have been selected for ennichi, and religious or memorial services are held on these days. It was believed that one would receive more blessing than usual if he or she visited a shrine or temple on these days. The first ennichi of the year (or the first ones of the month), in particular, are specifically named by attaching the word "hatsu" (first) to the beginning of their names, for example, Hatsu-Tenjin (first ennichi for Michizane SUGAWARA enshrined at Tenmangu Shrines), Hatsu-Kannon (first ennichi for Kannon, or Goddess of Mercy), and Hatsu-Fudo (first ennichi for Fudo Myoo, or Acala, one of the Five Wisdom Kings); in cases of ennichi for the Chinese zodiac, they are referred to as Hatsu-Uma (first day of the Horse) and Hatsu-Mi (first day of the Snake). The last ennichi of the year are named by attaching the word "Osame no" (ending) or "Shimai" (last) to the beginning of the names.

Since the modern era, ennichi has also often indicated the days when festivals (with many street stalls) are held at places such as shrines.

Major Ennichi
Ryogen (a monk in the Tendai sect): January 3
Suitengu (a deity enshrined at Suiten-gu Shrines): 5th of each month (1st, 5th, and 15th of each month in some areas)
Yakushi Nyorai (Healing Buddha): 8th of each month
Konpira (guardian deity of seafaring): 10th of each month
Kokuzo Bosatsu (Akasagarbha Bodhisattva): 13th of each month
Nichiren (founder of the Nichiren sect of Buddhism): 13th of each month
Amida Nyorai (Amitabha Tathagata): 15th of each month
Enma (the King of Hell): 16th of each month
Kangiten (Nandikesvara, or Ganesh): 16th of each month
Senju Kannon Bosatsu (Thousand-Armed Kannon Buddhisattva, a Buddhist Goddess of Mercy): 17th of each month
Kanzeon Bosatsu (Buddhist Goddess of Mercy): 18th of each month
Kobo Daishi (posthumous title of the priest Kukai): 21st of each month
Hachimanshin (God of War enshrined at Hachiman-gu Shrines): 23rd of each month
Jizo Bosatsu (Jizo Bodhisattva): 24th of each month
Atago-Gongen (an incarnated deity of Jizo Bosatsu enshrined at Atago-sha Shrines): 24th of each month
Michizane SUGAWARA: 25th of each month (Tenjin Festival)
Fudo Myoo (Acala, one of the Five Wisdom Kings): 28th of each month
Myoken Bosatsu (Myoken Bodhisattva): 1st and 5th of each month
Kishimojin (Goddess of Children): 8th, 18th and 28th of each month
Inari (God of Harvest): day of the Horse
Marishiten (Goddess of Wealth and Warrior Class): day of the Boar
Bishamonten (Vaisravana): the first day of the Tiger in January, May and September
Daikokuten (Mahakala): day of the Kinoene (the first of the Chinese sexagenary cycle)
Benzaiten (Sarasvati): day of the Kishi (the sixth of the Chinese sexagenary cycle)
Taishakuten (Indra) and Shomen Kongo (a messenger of Taishakuten): day of the Koshin (the fifty-seventh of the Chinese sexagenary cycle)
Arakawa-yuenchimae Station: days having the numeral 2 of each month (2nd, 12th and 22nd of each month)

Street Stall for Ennichi

Street Stall
Street stalls have traditionally been a special feature for ennichi. The stalls for ennichi are almost the same as the ones for Bon festival dance. In addition to the street stalls mentioned below, familiar stalls selling food such as takoyaki (octopus dumplings), yakisoba (Japanese fried noodle) and isobe (grilled mochi wrapped in dried seaweed) are set up. These stalls attract not only children but also adults and youths who feel like kids. Incidentally, some of the stalls do not open for ennichi in the winter season; they open for ennichi from April to October, especially in the summer.

Products at these street stalls are often inferior or sold for ten to hundred times as much as the original costs.

Cotton Candy
It is a cotton-like candy made by heating coarse sugar at high temperature.

Ringo-Ame (sweetened apple)
It is a candy of apple which is coated with a melted and sticky liquid sugar or syrop. Small apples are also used for ringo-ame today.

Anzu-Ame (candied apricot)
It is a candy of fruit which is coated with a melted and sticky liquid sugar or syrop.

Baby Kasutera (small kasutera, or sponge cake)
Baby kasutera means small kasutera, but its shape is in fact like a rolled-up pancake. It may be sold under the name of "Tokyo Cake," "Chinchin-yaki" or "Binsu-yaki."

Sauce Senbei (rice cracker dipped in a sauce)
It is a set of thin senbei of which one receives as many pieces as the number he or she wins on a roulette-like game seen in "densuke tobaku" (fake street gambling) and a sauce such as Otafuku sauce (a sauce produced by OTAFUKU SAUCE Co., Ltd.) or plum jam. There is no blank for the game, and the winning numbers range mostly between five and ten.

Plastic masks of popular characters from animation, games, and tokusatsu (Japanese television dramas with special effects that usually feature superheroes) are sold.

Goldfish Scooping
One scoops small gold fish. Most of the scooped goldfish die in a day because they are basically unhealthy ones that have been excluded from the group of an expensive type of goldfish during the farming process; however, they will grow up to be fairly well-shaped goldfish if raised properly.

Male chicks of little commercial value are mostly sold as a means to getting rid of them from poultry farms. Some vendors used to spray chicks with some color and sell them as a "color chick"; once in a great while, furthermore, baby quails (also called as shimadori) were sold. These chicks are rarely sold nowadays probably due to the awareness of animal protection.

Katanuki Gashi
It is commonly called "katanuki" or "nuki." It is a game in which one cuts out, with a toothpick or needle, a picture on a colored sheet made from materials such as flour. Katanuki gashi is not for consumption although the name includes the word "gashi" (confection).

Yo-yo Fishing
It is a game in which one fishes water balloons with colorful designs with a hook.

Choco Banana (literally, chocolate banana)
It is a confection of banana coated with chocolate.

Cork Bullet Shooting
It is a game in which one shoots a cork bullet from a toy gun and receives as a prize the item that the bullet has knocked over.

Smart Ball
It is a game in which one hits balls so as to guide them into holes on a pachinko (Japanese pinball) board placed horizontally.

[Original Japanese]