HAGOITA

A hagoita is a wooden paddle used to play the new year hanetsuki game. It's usually decorated with beautiful drawings. Even though kids don't play this game much any more, the paddle itself is valued as an ornament that is believed to bring good luck. A hagoita market is held every year from the 12th lunar month of 17 to 19 on the grounds of the Sens˘ji temple in Asakusa, a famous shitamachi district in T˘ky˘. It's a spectacular event attracting some 300,000 people, who come to buy paddles from the approximately 50 stalls selling nothing but hagoita.

The market began around 350 years ago duing the Edo period (1603 ~ 1868). The drawings are usually created with washi or cloth, and then pasted onto the paddle so they protrude like a relief. Traditional hagoita commonly feature portraits of famous kabuki actors or roles like Fuji Musume, Musume D˘j˘ji, Kamakura Gongor˘ Kagemasa ("Shibaraku") or Sukeroku.

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