Friday, 29 January 2016
As one of unusual celebratory event of Japanese New Year, I would bring up Fukuotoko-erabi. It is a religious event held at Nishinomiya shrine on January 10 every year. At this traditional event, approximately 250 runners make a fierce dash from the Omote Daimon, the entrance gate, for Honden, the main shrine hall as soon as the gate is open at 6 a.m. The first three runners who reach Honden are named Fukuotoko, the fortune men of the year. It is a great honor and, needless to say, a fortune to become a Fukuotoko.
The runway has three curves and a slippery slope just before the goal, and these obstacles make the race result uncertain till the end. Every year this event is broadcast on TV news, and it shows many runners slide out at corners and the winner who is awarded a wooden statue of Ebisu deity for a good luck, sacred rice and sake.