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Enjoy the Hakata-Gion-Yamakasa 120%!

What is the Hakata-Gion-Yamakasa?

The Hakata-Gion-Yamakasa, also Yamakasa for short, is a festival held in the quarter Hakata of Fukuoka, Japan. It is held during the first half of July and is centered aroung festive, richly decorated Handbarrows, that are on display or carried through the city. These Hanbarrows, called Yamakasa, are dedicated to the three shintoistic patron gods of Hakata and are beautiful to look at. The seven districts of Hakata race each other along a set route each year as a part of the festivals main event, the Oiyama.

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Yamakasa Schedule

The Yamkasas events are held on the same days each year.

Yamakasa Schedule

The Yamkasas events are held on the same days each year.

24th of June (Fri)Kazariyama Exhibition

Revealing this years beautiful Kazariyama!

On the first of July all 14 Kazariyama in Hakata and neighbourhood are brought to their display huts and are acsessible to the public. The following 9 days are called the "quiet period". During this time no major events take place and the time can be used to explore Fukuoka and see all the Kazariyama.

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1st of July (Fri)First Oshioitori

Hosting district praying for the safety of the festival

Every year the festival is Hosted by one district. Since the places where the events happen don't change, this only means more ceremonial jobs for the hosting district. One of these jobs is the first Oshioitori. All participating men of the hosting district go to the Kushida-shrine and from there to the beach Hakozaki-hama, where they pray for the safety of the festival and take some sand with them.

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9th of July (Sat)Second Oshioitori

Safety ceremony at the beach

On the 9th of July the Oishioitori is held with all districts. The Process remains the same though. The participants walk from the Kushida-shrine over the Ishido-bridge to the Hakozaki-hama beach, where they pray for the safety of the festival and take some sand with them as a luck charm.

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10th of July (Sun)Nagaregaki

End of the static phase! Runnig with the Kakiyama.

The long awaited active part of the festival has begun. The Kakiyama are carried through their own districts as a cleansing ritual. Here already the district compete for speed and try to carry their Kakiyama through most of their district as fast as possible.

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11th of July (Mon)Asayama

The early moring run

Only 12 hours after running the Nagaregaki, the Kakiyama are run through the silent city, with the shouts of "Osshoi" from the carriers coming by their houses, confusing Hakatas sleeping populus.

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11th of July (Mon)Tanagaregaki

Visiting the rivals

As a sign of respect, the districts carry their Kakiyama through the neighbouring districts 12 hours after the Asayama. Not all districts partake in this event.

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12th of July (Tue)Oiyamanarashi

The Oiyamas dry run.

The Oiyamanarashi is the dry run of the Oiyama. Everything is done exactly as during the festivals main event on the 15th of July, exept that the finish line is about one kilometre earlyer.

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13th of July (Wed)Shudanyamamise

Pompous parade going out of Hakata

The Shudanyamamise is the only occasion to which the Kakiyama leave Hakata. To show that they also belong to Fukuoka, the inhabitants of Hakata carry their Kakiyama along the wide Meiji-dori and display them at Fukuokas central park. This is accompanied by much music and the parade is now the second most important event of the festival.

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14th of July (Thu)Second Nagaregaki

On the day before the final event, another Nagaregaki

Five of Hakatas seven districts hold another Nagaregaki 12 hours before the start of the Oiyama. Once again the Kakiyama are carried through their own districts as a last chance to make any changes to the setup the district will bring to the Oiyama.

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15th of July (Fri)Oiyama

The finale and main event of the festival

The event starts at 4:59 in the morning. All seven Kakiyama and Kamikawabata-tooris carryable Kazariyama line up before the Kushida shrine and in five minute intervals perform the presentation ceremony before the Kushia-shrine, called Kushida-iri. They do this as fast as possible and then hurry along the set path fighting for every second and always being cheered on by the shouts of "Oisa!".

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Districts and their Yamakasa

Kakiyama, Kazariyama and Childrens Yamakasa

Districts and their Yamakasa

Kakiyama, Kazariyama and Childrens Yamakasa

Kakiyama

舁き山

Kazariyama

飾り山

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Yamakasa-Navi Databank

Dictionary & Spot Guide

Yamakasa-Navi Databank

Dictionary & Spot guide

This report about the festival shows the Hakata-Gion-Yamakasa as seen by foreigners. It was written by our australian intern Marsha during the festivities in 2011.

A list of Japanese words and phrases connected to the festival in alphabetical order. Also good for finding out more about the festivals trivia!

Find out more about the Yamakasa on our social media and live-streaming sites.

All about the Yamakasa. Make sure to visit our live-stream on time.

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Don't miss any events! Every event of the festival is announced beforehand on our Twitter site.

Enjoy a view behind the scenes and see picutres, that didn't make it into the news, on our facebook page!

Yamakasa-Navi

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