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Hatsuichi Matsuri (First Market Festival)

This festival originated in the markets of daily goods and silk held on the 4th and 9th every month in the time of  Tadaoki Sakai, the lord of Maebashi Castle. It is now known as “Daruma-ichi (Dharma Doll Market).” Dharma dolls are a lucky charm used for the whole year. People come to the first market with their old Dharma dolls which are then burned in open fires,  completing the roles the dolls have played the previous year.  New dolls are purchased and new wishes are made for the coming year. Numerous street stalls line Route 50.

What to See at the Festival

(Ceremony of Burning Old Dharma)

This is a ceremony to give thanks to the old Dharma dolls. People burn them during sincere prayers, covering themselves with the smoke which is believed to carry the happiness for the coming year. This ceremony is held at the site of Hachimanngu (Hachiman Shrine) from about 10:00 a.m. on January 9th every year.

(Ceremony of Moving the God of Markets)

This is a ceremony held in hope of moving the spirit of the god of markets from Hachimanngu (Hachiman Shrine) to the temporal shrine set at the main place for the festival. The spirit is carried on the portable shrine throughout the city.

Roten (Street Stalls)

Many street stalls are opened along Route 50. They sell not only Dharma dolls but various symbols that are believed to call happiness in.