I want to see it at least once, the Hakata “Gion Yamakasa Festival !” The splendid display of men running through the town of Hakata during it. (MOVIE)

2018-09-20   Festivals & Events, Fukuoka,

A dedication ritual at Kushida Shrine that boasts over 770 years of tradition.

Everywhere Japan, when people think of a Hakata city summer festival, they think of the Hakata Gion Yamakasa Festival that takes place in Hakata city, Fukuoka on the island of Kyushu. This festival is the product of over 770 years of tradition in shrine goers’ dedication rituals and takes place every year in July. Not only the locals, but also fans and tourists from all over the country come to watch the valiant and splendid display of over 500 of Hakata’s men running through the city, alternating with each other to carry the luxuriously decorated Yamakasa float weighing over one ton.


“Kazariyama”, or the Decorated Floats open to the public on July 1st.

The Hakata Gion Yamakasa Festival begins on July 1st and ends in the early morning on July 15th with the final event of “Oiyama.” “Kazariyama,” or the “decorated floats” become open to the public on July 1st in Hakata’s 14th district. On the front side facing Kushida Shrine, there is a warrior and the backside, called the “send-off,” is decorated with a luxurious Hakata doll that has become the subject of fairy tales and animated television shows. In the past, women seem to have been strictly forbidden from taking part, but more recently during the festival women have been supporting the proceedings strongly from behind the scenes.


The float carried by the men around the city is called “Kakiyama.”

The float that Hakata’s men carry around the city is called the “Kakiyama”, or the “carried mountain.” On July 10th the Kakiyama makes its appearance from its starting point, the Nagaregaki. Shouting “Oisa! Oisaa! Oisa! Oisaa!” the men of Hakata carry the float around freely while their shouts of encouragement echo throughout the town. These activities continue from the 14th to the 15th, heating up as it gets closer to the “Oiyama” event on the last day.



The climax of the festival takes place early in the morning on July 15th.

The “Oiyama,” event marks the climax of the Hakata Gion Yamakasa Festival and begins at 4:59 am on July 15th. It is during this event that the best is chosen from among the float carriers from each neighborhood. Naturally, it is at this moment that the men of Hakata display their utmost radiance. Once the Oiyama is over, the float is packed away and everyone sings a local song, “Iwai-medeta” then, closing out the festival with a ceremonial round of applause. Once that is finished, everyone who participated in the festival, including float carriers as well as tourists, turn to face the work of the day as though nothing had happened. While collecting data, we were told, “that is the spirit of the Hakata locals.”







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