hagoita market

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Each December, Sensō-ji in Asakusa hosts the Hagoita-ichi (浅草羽子板市) or Battledore Market. It’s a fair that focuses on hagoita (羽子板), a paddle or racket that’s used in a New Year’s game called hanetsuki (羽根突き, 羽子突き). I quote from Wikipedia

Hanetsuki is a traditional game, similar to badminton without a net, played with a rectangular wooden paddle called a hagoita and a brightly coloured shuttlecock. Often played by girls at New Year, the game can be played in two fashions: by one person attempting to keep the shuttlecock aloft as long as possible, or by two people batting it back and forth. Although hanetsuki is not as popular as it used to be, decorative hagoita are commonly sold throughout Japan.

The game itself gradually lost its popularity, but hagoita turned into an elaborately decorated New Year’s charm. It reached its zenith during the Edo era: instead of simply painting auspicious pictures of the bamboo-pine-plum trio of good luck on wooden paddles, Edo craftsmen used so-called “stuffed pictures” (押し絵, oshi-e) of their favourite kabuki actors.

More photos below the cut.

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