【SUMMER】Hakata’s largest summer festival, “Kazari Yamakasa”!

From the 1st of July to the 15th of July, there will be 11 large Yamakasa lined up along the street in Hakata city. On the last day, in the early morning, small “Kakiyama” (舁き山) will be carried while people chant the expression, “Oi-Yamakasa”. The themes of the Yamakasa are taken from famous scenes from Kabuki and war tales.

Hakata’s largest summer festival, “Kazari Yamakasa”!

Hakata’s largest summer festival, “Kazari Yamakasa”!

Hi everyone! I’m Nagabuchi from “Bura Bura Fukuoka”.
I’ll introduce the Hakata Gion Yamakasa.


Yamakasa are modeled after Kyoto’s Gion Matsuri.

It has said that the current Yamakasa was first designed during the Edo period. It is modeled from the “Yamahoko Junko”, held at Yasaka Shrine in Kyoto in July of every year. Craftsmen from Kyoto gathered in Hakata and made the Yamakasa. It is also said that the craftsmen brought the Hakata doll from Kyoto.


Up until the Edo period, people would only walk while carrying the Kazari Yamakasa.

According to its 800 years of history, people would to carry Yamakasa and parade about the town. Yamakasa became Kazari-Yama, or a more decorative Yamakasa, measuring 10 meters in height. One day, people started to run while carrying these large Kazari-Yama, much like in the parades of today. It’s such a demanding job to run while carrying these! After the Meiji period, 2 different types of Kazari-Yama replaced the original Kazari-Yama, because they would catch on to the overhead wiring for local trams in the street. One became smaller, and the other, called a Kakiyama, was carried on the shoulder.


The decoration of the Yamakasa reflect the society.

Contrary to Kyoto’s Yamahoko, which stays the same every year, Yamakasa’s design change’s every year. Popular figures from the Taiga Drama (a long-running historical drama), anime, Kabuki scenes, and famous battles during the Sengoku period, are used for the design of the Yamakasa.


During the Kazari Yamakasa, eating cucumbers is forbidden!

During the festival, men do not eat cucumbers, because the round sliced cucumber looks like the crest of Susano-no-Mikoto, the enshrined God of this festival. Eating the crest is thought to be impolite.


You should try to see“Oi-yama”at least once in your life time.

The highlight if yamakasa is“Oi-yama”which is held early in the morning of the 15th. One after another, 8 Yamakasa are run through the city of Hakata from Kushida Shrine. It’s so moving to see the men running up the street. There will be over 70 thousand people in attendance that night, so be sure to get a good place to watch it.
For more detail, please see

The honor of Hakata’s beauty, Hakata Kenban.

Among many dolls, the most eye-catching one is the doll of “kenban”, a figure of Geisha. The doll represents sex appeal with black kimono with a Hakata obi belt.

Powerful looking Yamakasa boys and girls

Boys who are born in the town of Yamakasa are raised to learn etiquette and hierarchy within the community. The community is sort of a ‘school’ for boys to make them real men. The boys dressed in cool looking ‘Happi’ jackets might attract girls attention.

Hakata girl in Yukata

Girls love to go out dressed in their Yukata and watch the Kazari Yamakasa and fireworks. You’ll see a lot of cute girls in Yukata when you stroll the town.

※ This article was contributed by “Bura Bura Fukuoka”.

“Hakata machi aruki Bura Bura Fukuoka”offers historical experiences for foreign visitors in Japan, Foreign guides, arrangements for a Kimono wearing experience and so on.
For more detail, please see http://en.burabura-fukuoka.jp/
(Japanese, English and Chinese websites are available)


1 Kamikawabatamachi Hakata-ku, Fukuoka-shi, Fukuoka Prefecture

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I've started the Hakata City Walk business for foreign tourists since 2015 in Fukuoka prefecture. My dream is to transmit the appeals of Fukuoka and Kyushu where richly endowed with nature, history and culture to the world.

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Address 1 Kamikawabatamachi Hakata-ku, Fukuoka-shi, Fukuoka Prefecture
Access 5 min walk from Subway “Nakasu Kawabata” station
Phone 092-291-2951
Website http://www.hakata-yamakasa.net/