A Unique Celebration of Culture and Belief
The Hozuki Ichi, or Japanese Lantern Plant Fair, is one of the most popular Tokyo events in July. It is a vibrant and time-honored summer tradition held every year on July 9th and 10th at the Sensoji Temple in Asakusa, Tokyo. Known for its unique red “lantern” fruits, the Hozuki flower has been an integral part of Japanese culture and beliefs since the Edo period.
The Origins of Hozuki Ichi and its Significance
The Hozuki Ichi festival traces its roots back to the Edo period when a samurai servant had a spiritual dream about the Atago Gangen god. In his dream, the deity mentioned that eating Hozuki seeds would reduce irritation on a day of virtue, which is now celebrated as kudoku-nichi on July 10th. This day is thought to hold special significance at Sensoji Temple, as prayers offered are said to be worth 46,000 days’ worth of blessings.
As the legend gained traction, people started gathering on this auspicious day to purchase Hozuki flowers and seeds with the belief that they possessed healing powers up to 46,000 times their normal capacity. Additionally, the festival encompasses Obon traditions—the welcoming of ancestral spirits—by utilizing offerings like Hozuki fruit and decorative cucumber and eggplant figures.
A Festival for Plants, Charms, and Community
Vibrant Floral Stalls and Paper Lantern-inspired Fruits
Around 100 stalls surround Sensō-ji temple during this 200-year-old event, offering a wide variety of vibrant Hozuki flowers while also giving worshippers a chance to buy its fruit or the entire plant. The captivating paper lantern-like appearance of these flowers has garnered their various names, such as Chinese lanterns, Japanese lanterns, and strawberry groundcherries in English.
Wind Bells and Charms for Good Luck
Apart from Hozuki flowers, the festival also presents visitors with an opportunity to purchase beautifully crafted wind bells and special charms. The sound of these delicate wind bells creates a soothing atmosphere amidst the lively crowd of locals and tourists visiting to make their prayers or simply enjoy the summer event.
Traditional Attire and Festive Vibes
Many attendees don colorful yukata—a traditional Japanese garment—during the festival, making it a visually stunning display of old Tokyo culture. The vivid colors of Hozuki flowers, combined with the melodic chiming of wind bells and a bustling temple environment, create a truly festive atmosphere for everyone to enjoy.
Practical Information for Visitors
The Hozuki Ichi is held at 2-3-1 Asakusa, Taito-ku, around the Sensō-ji temple. To access the festival by train, it is conveniently located just a 6-minute walk away from Asakusa Station’s exit 6 (Asakusa Line, Ginza Line, Tobu Skytree Line) or a 4-minute walk from Asakusa Station’s Tsukuba Express line exit A. The event runs from 8:00 AM to 9:00 PM on both July 9th and 10th.
Attendance to this visually captivating cultural experience is free of charge. Whether you are interested in the spiritual benefits of Hozuki flowers or simply want to partake in this long-standing tradition, the Hozuki Ichi Japanese Lantern Plant Fair offers a beautiful opportunity to capture a snapshot of Japan’s rich history and tradition.
The Japanese Lantern Plant Fair (Hozuki-Ichi) is a popular summer event in Tokyo and is often paired with the Odaiba Lantern Festival, which is held on the same weekend.