Merchants Festival


Every November merchants from central Yokohama converge on a Birds of Prey Shrine to pray for good business, buy lucky charms, eat lots, drink more, and pay off the mafia.



Early Days

1st. Apt.



Yoko - Fuk





S. Kyushu


UK 1998



Kites & Balloons

99 Islands

Sue / Japan

UK 2000

N. Japan




This particular area is (in?)famous for its Korean merchants.

This guy is selling yakitori (chicken skewers) which going by the size of them may also have been birds of prey rather than plain old chicken.


On the left, fishing for goldfish with paper covered hoops. Once the paper breaks the game is over. Pros. can get hundreds with one sheet.

On the right, well, what can I say?


More yakitori, charbroiled with more salt than you'd be wise to admit to your doctor.

Note that this stand also broils prawns and beef.


A $500 gaudy trinket that will bring luck to the shop or bar where it will spend the next year. The kind of luck that guarantees the local yakuza won't burn the place down.

Think of it as a prominent receipt to the protection racket boys.


Remember "Weebles wobble but they won't fall down"? Well, here are the originals. These Daruma are weighted at the bottom, and are extremely lucky. Paint one eye black at the start of the new year and make a wish. When the wish comes true you can paint the other eye in. Here, my two are getting blessed with flint sparks.


So what happens to last year's trinkets?

They get thrown away of course. Tons of the stuff, but woe betide the shop keeper who tries to get another year of luck out of his fetish.

(Anyone else suspect that objects from these bins will be recycled into next year's charms?)


The Yakuza themselves buy these things. Here's one of the most expensive and elaborate Darumas I've seen.

Going by the writing on the front, it has spent the last year with the Inagawa Gumi, Yokohama's largest Yakuza gang.

Note that their wish has not come true...


About to enter the shrine to make our wishes.

So hard to stay sober at these events.


Standard shine ritual:

Throw money.

Get crushed.

Shake bell (wake up god).

Make prayer.

Fight way out.

Have another beer.



Not everything is traditional.

After years of making dragons, foxes, herons etc. from sugar, these artists are branching into the realms of BANDAI.

There were also Pikachu sweets, so you could at least bite his head off.


This chap's going to need all the luck that charm has to get home alive on a moped after a night at this festival.

There was not one sober adult there.