Famous Fukuoka Festivals

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The province of Fukuoka is on the northern shore of the Kyushu Island in Japan ‘ the regional capital is known as Fukuoka City. The area is known as the home of festivals in Japan and has a celebration for practically everything. The city of the same name is considered the twelfth nicest place in the world to live and it is not difficult to see why when the local seem to take enjoyment from anything! Here is a list of ten of the most celebrated, famous or interesting festivals from the province.

1. Hakata Dontaku

Hakata Dontaku
Hakata Dontaku

Taking place in the harbour city of Tenjin, this festival traces its history back over 800 years and was established by the merchant sailors of Japan. It takes place in early May every year and is considered the region’s (if not the country’s) largest festival. It is a time of celebration where people dressing up in weird colourful costumes, dancing and playing music and banging shanoji spoons (used for spooning rice) in the streets. It is said that over 2 million people take part every year.

2. Hakata Gion Yamakasa

Hakata Gion Yamakasa
Hakata Gion Yamakasa

This summer festival takes place every year in the summer is the time when people race giant floats around a 5km course in the streets of the city of Hakata. The floats are elaborately decorated and there are two types ‘ those purely for decoration and those used in the race. Most interesting is that during the period of the festival, locals will not eat cucumbers. It is said that a slice of the humble vegetable resembles the emblem of the god Kushida-jinja

3. Toka Ebisu Taisai

Toka Ebisu Taisai
Toka Ebisu Taisai

Taking place in early January, approximately one week into New Year, centres on the Toka Ebisu Shrine in Taisai. The festival is important to the followers of the Shinto religion. The festival lasts four days and it is said during the period that around a million people will visit the shrine to pray for good luck. The day before the actual festival day, ladies dress in elegant and beautiful kimonos, shape their hair in an old-fashioned style and wear ornamental hair pieces. As the ladies make their way to the shrine, they are accompanied by beautiful music.

4. Fukuoka Asian Month

Fukuoka Asian Month
Fukuoka Asian Month

Taking place in the city of Fukuoka, the festival is the country’s largest celebration of Asian food. Enacted by the city of Fukuoka in 1989 to celebrate the centenary of its creation as a municipality, the festival notes that the city is roughly the same flight time from Tokyo, Shanghai and Seoul making it a real hub of Asian culture. These days though, it isn’t just about food ‘ everybody seems to get involved in a general celebration of all East Asian culture ‘ music, traditional arts and other aspects of culture.

5. Music City Tenjjin

Music City Tenjjin
Music City Tenjjin

It isn’t just the west that has big music festivals, Asian music is celebrated all over the world and nobody does it quite like the Tenjin. It could be considered the musical equivalent of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival with events taking place all over the city and involving professionals and amateurs alike. Clubs, concert halls right up to sports stadiums host events for this two day event. It takes place in early October every year and celebrates every genre of music.

6. Hojoya

Hojoya
Hojoya

Another religious festival, locals once again don their traditional dress for the fiesta that centres on the Hakozaki shrine. It is the celebration of life and to prohibit unnatural death of any kind ‘ though it also doubles up as a sort of autumn harvest festival. Pilgrims take a 1km walk to the shrine and along the way are greeted by street vendors selling anything and everything. It is a colourful time and is considered one of the ‘big three’ festivals in the Fukuoka region.

7. Hakata Akihaku

Hakata Akihaku
Hakata Akihaku

This is the official festival of autumn in the region, marking many religious traditions and most of the shrines are venerated during the period. It doesn’t really have a theme as it is more of a celebration of a time of year. What it does have is colour and a lot of it. Events in 2013 included a stamp faire, photographic competitions, floating restaurants, a drum festival and various markets. They have also recently adopted a Halloween parade making it a truly international festival.

8. Christmas of Tenjin

Christmas in Tenjin
Christmas in Tenjin

Modern Japan is truly embracing of the cultures of the world ‘ and this proves it ‘ arguably the largest celebration of a non-Japanese festival in Japan. Christmas as we all know is about the birth of Jesus, the most important person in the Christian faith. In Tenjin, the city is lit up with Christmas lights that fuse Christmas traditions as understood in the west while adding a distinct Japanese flavour. Pagodas with Christmas lights are a common sight around the city between the end of November and late December.

9. Asia-Pacific Film Festival

Asia-Pacific Film Festival
Asia-Pacific Film Festival

Another food and music festival, it takes place in the city of Kyushu in mid-October every year and celebrates the diversity of the culture of Asia spread across the Pacific. The tourism board of the region uses it to promote the festivals that go on through the year; other countries also get to display their food, music and culture in encouraging better understanding across the countries of the Pacific Ocean. You can also buy goods and produce from street vendors selling handmade goods.

10. Tamaseseri

Tamaseseri
Tamaseseri

New Year ‘ Japanese style is not a secular celebration as it is in the west where people simply sleep off the excesses of the night before! It is an important religious time centring on the Hakazaki Shrine and happens every January 3rd. Parishioners compete in teams to get a ball to the shrine ‘ rather like a Rugby match. The teams are ‘seasiders’ and ‘land’. If the latter team wins, then it is foreseen that a good fishing catch will be had in the year, if the latter then it will be a good harvest.

Conclusion

Little is known of Japanese culture in the western world save those who actively seek to learn all about it. Fukuoka province has proven itself to be an attractive place to live that takes every opportunity to celebrate life and living. There are festivals taking place all through the year.

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