TOKYO PAPER for Culture トーキョーペーパー フォー カルチャー





vol.015 / Round-trip Letters

Ichiko Uemoto (photographer) × Sekaikan Ozaki (musician / CreepHyp)

Two people exchange everyday thoughts about Tokyo.


Letter 1 Ichiko Uemoto → Sekaikan Ozaki


I went to a Tori no Ichi festival at a shrine in Shinjuku. Do you know what Tori no Ichi is? Every year around this time on a certain day, I always go buy kumade (a brightly-decorated bamboo rake good-luck charm). I found out about Tori no Ichi when I came to Tokyo. Maybe you know about it since you’re from a traditional neighborhood. I started buying kumade the year I set up my own photo studio. The custom is that the kumade gets bigger every year in line with your business getting bigger. But if it gets any bigger than it is now, I’ll feel silly getting it home, plus it’ll be too big to display at the entrance to my studio. So this year I bought the same size kumade as last year. They also say if you leave open the oiribukuro, envelope-like bag you get with the kumade, money will enter.

There’s a ritual involved in buying kumade. When you pay for it, you also add some extra money and say to the vendor, “Keep this gift”. Instead of buying a bigger kumade, I would increase the “gift” money. The owner of the coffee shop below my studio told me about this custom. It’s sort of stylish, don’t you think?

When you buy a kumade, the vendor rounds things off with an energetic tejime (ceremonial rhythmic hand clapping) which always makes me cringe. But I also feel refreshed, as I reflect on another year’s hard work. Are you superstitious about anything like that?
It’s almost the end of the year. We should go out drinking again.
Look after yourself!

  • Ichiko Uemoto

    Born in Hiroshima in 1984. In 2003 she accepted the award for excellence in the Canon New Cosmos of Photography competition from Nobuyoshi Araki. She established Ten-Nen Studio in Shimokitazawa, a photo studio utilizing natural light. She has made commemorative family photography her life’s work. Her book Kazoku saigo no hi [Last family day] will be published by Ohta Books at the end of January 2017.

Translation: Office Miyazaki, Inc.

Next update scheduled for December 14