July 1st to 15th 2014
With a history stretching back more than 750 years, the Hakata Gion Yamakasa is one of the most dramatic summer festivals in Japan. Famous for its float-pulling race, the festival is held annually from July 1 – 15 and attracts up to one million spectators a year. In 1979, the Hakata Gion Yamakasa Festival was designated an Important Intangible Folk Cultural Property.
The climax of the festival, centered around Kushida Shrine, involves a spectacular time-trial race at dawn, with teams of men in loincloths pulling large floats, or yama, at breakneck speeds over a 5km course through the city. The race requires speed, balance and teamwork, as the teams work to keep their floats straight as they careen through the streets.
In addition to the floats used in the early-morning float race, more elaborate floats known as "kazariyama" (decoration floats) are situated throughout the community during festival season. Some of these eye-catching display floats, which can reach up to 10 meters tall, are on display year-round at Kushida Shrine.
Hours: Oiyama starts Jul. 15 at 4:59 a.m.
Address: Kushida Shrine
Airport: Fukuoka Airport
The area surrounding Kushida Shrine
10 min. walk from JR Hakata Station, or 5 min. walk from Nakasu-Kawabata Station on the Kuko (Airport) subway line.
Runs from Jul. 1 - 15
The area comes alive with many people walking about from Jul. 9