A festival more important than summer holidays and New Year’s! “Karatsu Kunchi” is when Karatsu’s people come together as one.

2017-04-21   Festivals & Events, Saga,

The pride of Karatsu, Saga Prefecture in Kyushu. A festival loved by Karatsu natives and fans alike.

Just when autumn turns into winter and we feel the cold an incredibly heartfelt festival springs the entire city of Karatsu into action. To the Karatsu natives living outside the city, even the summer holidays and New Year’s are not worth returning for as much as Karatsu Kunchi. Held annually from November 2nd to 4th, Karatsu Kunchi sees over 500,000 spectators.
-Tadaima Japan has a 2013 video of the Yoiyama festival eve. See the link on this page.


Floats made about 200 years ago now cost about ¥150 million to make!

Karatsu Kunchi is the autumn festival of the Karatsu Shrine. The 14 gorgeous floats from float No. 1 (Red lion head from Katana-machi) to No. 14 (Dragon boat) are pulled by hundreds of young people wearing happi coats. The floats are pulled in numerical order around the streets.
The floats were built 150 to 200 years ago and today, it would cost about ¥150 million to make one float. While making minor repairs every year, they have preserved and stored the floats with utmost care since the beginning.



Don’t miss the eve of the Yoiyama festival on Nov. 2nd and the float-pulling event in Nishinohama on Nov. 3rd!

November 2nd is the eve of the Yoiyama festival when the 14 floats are lit with paper lanterns in the evening and pulled around the city. There is passionate excitement over the start of the festival and a fantastical evening atmosphere attracting many spectators.
November 3rd is even more crowded with Karatsu Kunchi’s main highlight: pulling floats through the sand at the Nishinohama Myojindai Otabisho rest stop. In the morning the floats, along with a portable shrine in the middle of the procession, head for Nishinohama. When each float reaches Nishinohama, it is pulled through the soft sand.

■The portable shrine
■A float



Passed on by many generations, the festival is revered by everyone from each float’s neighborhood. The devotion of Karatsu natives is Passionate.

Karatsu Kunchi floats are paraded around in an unchanging order from float No. 1 to No. 14. They don’t compete for anything and they don’t destroy anything. Everyone from the float’s neighborhood comes together as one for something that has been treasured since long ago. Seeing them working hard again for this year’s festival, we can sense how strongly they cherish their hometown. Karatsu natives even spend the money set aside for the New Year’s holidays on Karatsu Kunchi. That’s how much they value offering their hospitality during the festival. They might be float pullers, hospitality people, or spectators cheering, but each one was born in Karatsu and they love the city. They look to be very happy indeed.
Karatsu is only a short distance from Fukuoka. Please visit Karatsu and feel the beauty of this festival!

■Karatsu Kunchi
November 2nd to 4th every year





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