Photo by A. Davey used under a creative commons license.
Photo by A. Davey used under a creative commons license. | Photo by A. Davey used under CC

Thanks to the Emperor turning one year older, we are blessed with a three day weekend.

Running on all three days is a unique market in Kasukabe, Saitama Prefecture. The Hagoita Market features a form of art resembling a paddle-like racket for playing a badminton-like game called Hanetsuki. These days, they are more likely to be ornamental.

Sunday is the shortest day of the year. Traditionally, this marks the plunge into the depths of winter. So to protect yourself, you can buy a charm and pray at the Toujisai – a winter solstice festival taking place at both a Buddhist temple and a Shinto shrine in Nishi Maseda. There is also lots of festival food to keep you warm and fed. More info here.

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On Monday, Ichigaya Kamegaoka Hachimangu shrine near Ichigaya Station will hold a mochitsuki taikai – a mochi making festival. For the uninitiated, mochi is a sticky rice cake that is traditionally made by hammering cooked rice in a hollowed out tree stump with a giant mallet and consumed on New Years Day. If you haven’t done it before, this is definitely the most fun you can have with rice. There are community mochitsuki events throughout Japan at this time of year so if you enquire at your local city office you can probably find one a little closer to home.

The Cheapo Weekend will be taking a break until the weekend of January 11/12 but you can still find lots of ongoing events in our Tokyo events section.

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