There are various festivals all over Japan, and the contents are varied. Among them, at energetic and violent festivals, you can enjoy the thrill of watching them.
Various festivals are also held in Hakata Ward, located in the center of Fukuoka City, Fukuoka Prefecture. Among them, “Hakata Gion Yamagasa” is one of the three major festivals in Hakata, along with “Hakata Dontaku” in spring and “Hojoya” in autumn.
Among such “rough festivals”, “Hakata Gion Yamagasa” is a festival that is enriched in strength. Many locals are so enthusiastic about preparing for the festival over a year. It is famous as one of the most energetic festivals in Japan.
The festival is held from July 1 to 15 every year, and the number of spectators is over 3 million during this period. It is the festival that attracts the most audience among Japanese festivals. In 2017, it was registered as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage.
The highlights of Hakata Gion Yamagasa are “Kazari Yamagasa” (Decoreted Festival Float) and “Oi Yamagasa” (Chasing Yamagasa Float).
Kazari Yamagasa is a Yamagasa that is displayed in the towns of Hakata to see its beauty. The exhibition will last for two weeks from July 1st to 15th, during which you can see it at midnight.
The gorgeous Yamagasa has many Hakata dolls, and its height is about 10 meters. Each of the 16 Kazari Yamagasa with various decorations has a story on it, and you will be surprised by its beauty.
The first “Kaki Yamagasa” (a yamakasa to be carried) is “Nagare Kaki” on July 10th. On this day, Kaki Yamagasa carries out various activities in each town.
The only day Kaki Yamagasa crosses Hakata and goes to the center of Fukuoka is the 13th “Group Yamagasa Show”. As the name suggests, all seven Kaki Yamagasa will meet together to aim for “Sajiki-Seki” (elevated wooden seats on both sides of an auditorium for expensive tickets) in front of the Fukuoka City Hall.
Kaki Yamagasa, which has been traveling around Hakata for two weeks, will compete on the course to Kushida Shrine on July 15, the final day. This is an event called “Oi Yamagasa”.
Oi Yamagasa is fast anyway. Be careful when festival floats turn corners of the building, as you may be injured if you don’t visit them carefully.
Hakata Gion Yamagasa is a festival that often has a close-up of the residents who operate it, even though it is part of a shrine festival. It has been handed down for 700 years, creating a unique unity among the residents.
Kushida Shrine, which hosts Hakata Gion Yamagasa, is about a 5-minute walk from Gion Station on the Fukuoka Subway Airport Line. Between July 10th and 15th, various events take place in this area. Please enjoy the atmosphere of the whole town as well as Kaki Yamagasa.
The best drama that combines glamor and courage
“Hakata Gion Yamakasa” is a brave festival filled with enthusiasm in July at Hakata-ku ward, Fukuoka City. The men who have a lot of dauntlessness will bear Yamakasa (festival float), which weighs several tons, to drive the boulevard. It is a splendid summer festival in the Kitakyushu area, which throws the whole city into a state of feverish excitement with its deep breath and overwhelming force.
Hakata Gion Yamakasa is officially called “Kushida Shrine Gion Annual Festival” and is a festival representing Hakata area along with “Hakata Dontaku“. And it is a festival with a history of over 770 years. For the fifteen days when the hot feelings of the people of Hakata explode, the whole town is enveloped with enthusiasm and the full summer is announced to Hakata.
The highlight of Hakata Gion Yamakasa is Yamakasa-kaki which goes around the city carrying Yamakasa. Yamakasa made by Hakata doll’s craftsmen with fine details is gorgeous and luxurious and shows an outstanding presence. The state of men who can run with tremendous heavy items that are several tons is exactly the best. The shout with the soul further enhances the audience’s enthusiasm and develops the best drama that combines glamor and courage. Men in the form of a loincloth called Shimekomi with Happi bravely pulls on the Yamakasa. The energy of the men who clench their teeth in the form of a headband whirls in the town and the town of Hakata boils with a strange feeling of enthusiasm. The people sitting on the table of Yamakasa are called “Dai-agari”, the center of the festival taking command of the bearer and the highest honor of Hakata men. On the final day, which is the climax of the festival, a time trial will be held on how fast you can turn a given course.
More than 700 years
The Hakata Gion Yamakasa is performed in an area called Hakatabu between the Mikasagawa river and the Nakagawa river in Hakata-ku, Fukuoka-shi, Fukuoka. It is classic festivals more than 700 years, and held every year from July 1 through July 15. In one of the Gion festival dedicated for Susanoo-no-mikoto enshrined in Kushida Shrine, and it is the name called “the Kushida Shrine Gion annual festival” formally.
Significant intangible folk cultural asset
There are various kinds of opinions of its origin. It is said that Shoichi kokushi Enni, who was the founder of the Tofuku-ji Temple, have gone around the Hakata city on a segakidana (rack for carrying the dead) while praying to drive plague off in 1241. It has been designated a significant intangible folk cultural asset of the country.
“Oi Yamakasa” is the climax
It is “Oi Yamakasa” (carring festival car) of 15th in the climax of Hakata gion yamakasa, it run at full speed by the distance of approximately 5 km. It’s competed for however beautifully was it moved and however heroically it be moved.
Men in loincloth run through the city
In an average year, it starts by the signal of the large drum early in the morning at 4:59, the men in fundoshi (loincloth) surge into the precincts of Kushida Shrine, and run through the city with a shout of “Osshoi! Oisa!”.
Hakata becomes hottest
The 15 days of “Hakata Gion Yamakasa”, Hakata becomes hottest during the year. Why don’t you try sensing this heat once.
|Name:||Hakata Gion Yamagasa Summer Festival|
|Adresse:||Kamikawabatamachi 1 Fukuoka Hakata-ku, Fukuoka 812-0026 Japan|
|Access:||JR Sanyo Shinkansen Line “Hakata-eki Station” (15 minutes walk)|
|Tel:||(+81) 92-291-2951 (Hakata Gion Yamagasa Development Association)|