In Japan, the Year of the Monkey is in its last days, and the Year of the Cock about to begin.
SV EXTERIOR People shopping at Senso-ji Temple in central Tokyo
SV ZOOM INTO CU Models of porcelain chickens, symbol for new year, in shop window
SV People buying fans, and display of fans (2 shots)
CU PULL OUT TO SV pictures of Kabuki actors on hagoita display
CU Cockerels in window display
SV People buying hagoita with Kabuki actors' pictures
SV Portraits of noted couple: singer Momoe Yamaguchi and Tomokazu Miura
GV People at Ameyoko food fair at Ueno
CU Woman sampling food
CU TRAY of herring roe
CU Man putting octopus tentacle into bag
SV People at fish stall looking at trays of salmon roe (3 shots)
SV Shoppers buying fish and crowds walking through food fair (2 shots)
GV INTERIOR Tokyo Stock Exchange, last bidding for year (3 shots)
GV Traditional hand-clapping ceremony
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Background: In Japan, the Year of the Monkey is in its last days, and the Year of the Cock about to begin. Using their modified form of the ancient Chinese calendar, the Japanese assign an animal symbol to each year. And the New year is their largest annual festival, preceded by a tidal wave of gift buying.
As usual in this season, the Senso-ji Temple area of central Tokyo is aswarm with shoppers. They're after oseibo, or gifts, to recognise services received in the past year, and to ensure good relations in the next. And, naturally replicas of cockerels are best-sellers.
A recent survey showed that seven out of ten people didn't really like the practice of oseibo, which has expanded in the past generation from a family affair to commercial habit. But its relentless pace is hard to resist, especially as the current animal symbol supposedly means good luck.
Thousands buy hagoita, decorated bats for a game originally played by young girls. Traditional pictures show Kabuki actors, but modern trends are catered for, as well. For instance, merchants decided there'd be a strong market for portraits of two pop idols -- Momoe Yamaguchi and Tomokazu Miura -- who were married this year.
In December's dying days, most of the capital's residents get along some time to Ameyoko, the famous New Year food fair in the Ueno district. Salted herring roe is a favourite dish. Last year, one large company tried to corner the market, but the public resisted its high prices, and the firm went bankrupt.
That failed piece of chicanery left its mark on the traders. This year, the price of herring roe -- and other items like this salmon roe -- is normal. Hose-wives relish the tradition that New Year foodstuffs shouldn't be cooked, because they've already poured a great deal of effort into the exhausting struggle to buy the food.
And what more Japanese way to end an old year than with an activity that combines ritual and co-ordinated movement. The final bidding of 1980 in the Tokyo Stock Exchange is completed at the normally-frenzied pace. Then rival jobbers and bidders assemble for the ceremonial closure. The fiscal year ends with triple hand-clap to attract good luck in the coming year.