Oji Inari Jinja (王子稲荷神社) is a Shinto shrine which is a 5-minute walk from Oji Station of the JR Keihin-Tohoku Line, the Tokyo Metro Namboku Line, or the Toden Arakawa Line. It used to be a pretty popular shrine back in the Edo period. See the article on Oji Inari Shrine for details.
There are two large festivals held at this shrine in a year. One is the Oji Kitsune-no-gyoretsu (王子狐の行列, the Fox Parade) held on New Year's Day and the other is the Tako-ichi (凧市) held twice or thrice in February.
Tako-ichi at Oji Inari Shrine
The Tako-ichi, literary meaning the Kite Market, at Oji Inari Shrine is held twice or thrice in February. This event is held on the Days of Horse (based on the Chinese zodiac) of February, and since there's two or three Days of Horse in February - the dates and frequency depends on the year - it is held twice or thrice.
The formal names of this Tako-ichi are the Hatsuuma-sai (初午祭), the Ninouma-sai (二ノ午祭), and the Sannouma-sai (三ノ午祭), respectively. The Hatsuuma-sai is widely cerebrated at Inari shrines on the first Day of Horse of February throughout the nation since it is regarded that the Inari god first descended to Inari-yama, the mountain where Fushimi Inari Shrine of Kyoto now stands, on this day of February 711. (So unlike Oji Inari shrine, usually only the Hatsuuma-sai is celebrated and not the Ninouma-sai and the Sannouma-sai.) Some Inari shrines hold celebrations on the first Day of Horse of February based on the lunisolar calendar which was used until 1873, and in that case, the Hatsuuma-sai will be held in March.
The reason this event is called the Tako-ichi (Kite Market) at Oji Inari Shrine is that ever since feudal times, kites were sold at this festival as talismans to avoid fire. There used to be many stalls selling these kites in the old days but nowadays, kites are only sold at the shrine office. Instead, about 100 ordinary stalls, mainly food ones, are set up along the path to the shrine, attracting about 50 thousand people in two days (usually there's only two Days of Horse in February).
About 100 stalls are set along the 200-meter approach to Oji Inari Shrine.
Many people line up to offer prayers before buying the kite.
Kites are sold in front of the shrine office at 1,400yen each. When a fire breaks out it causes strong heated wind, and since kites rides winds, they began to be sold as talismans to avoid fire.
Dances were offered at the Kaguraden stage. These dances were newly created and in lukewarmingly traditional style.
The shrine runs a kindergarten and so its kids also performed traditional dances (these were genuinely traditional).