The Hakata area comes alive in fall, with the Hakata Akihaku (Autumn Festa) – a series of colorful events and festivals from October to November – some of which have been running for hundreds of years. Hakata Akihaku 2017 will once again feature an exceptional variety of colorful, must-see events, ranging from those imbued with historical romance at the shrines and temples of Hakata, to concerts, art, dramas, walking tours, and lectures. It’s a great chance to deepen your knowledge of Hakata’s history and enjoy the feast of arts, food, and music.
For the time being, here are fourteen Akihaku events; but check back soon as we will add at least another dozen events for you to enjoy!
Wa no Hakata Opening Event
On Sat. Sep. 16, the beautiful Jotenji-dori Ave. turns into a pedestrian paradise to celebrate the start of Akihaku. At the end of the avenue near Hakata Sennen-no-Mon, four food and drink booths including a nihonshu (Japanese sake) bar will be setup, providing a festive mood. Geisha dance performance, Hakata-ori exhibit, and more events with the theme of wa (Japanese culture) will take place in Jotenji Temple. Come in a kimono and have your photo taken for free by a photographer on site. Huge noren (curtain) will be hanging from Hakata Sennen-no-Mon, making it the perfect spot for a memorable photo.
“Wa no Hakata” Hakata Morning Udon, Lunch Marche, and Night Feast
Enjoy eating from morning till night! This food event brings the history and culture of Hakata to light, and in a departure from local customs, udon will be serve in the morning as breakfast! Lunch will be kaisendon (seafood rice bowl) and dried food while dinner will be yakitori and chicken skin from popular yakitori shop Torikawa Daijin.
Hakata Natsukashi, Omoshiro, Otakara-ichi Flea Market
A flea market is held every first Sunday of the month at the south side of Sumiyoshi Jinja Shrine. The usually quiet road approaching the shrine will be lined up with five to six stalls selling pottery, clothes, knick-knacks, antiques, and more. Best time to go would be in the morning!
• 10/1 (Sun.) (every first Sun. of the month)
• Nakasu area
• South side, Sumiyoshi Jinja Shrine
• 3-1-51 Sumiyoshi, Hakata-ku
Fish Festival 2017
This festival will give children the chance to discover the delicious flavor of fish. A total of 11 restaurants from throughout the country will prepare a range of fresh, seasonal seafood dishes for diners to sample. Aside from the delicious food, there will also be interesting and educational attractions for parents and children, including a tuna carving demonstration, as well as a talk on how to inspect fish when buying. The packed schedule is aimed at all ages, so be sure to check it out!
• 10/6 (Fri.) ~ 10/9 (Mon., hol.)
• 10:00~19:00 (Fri. :15:00~ )
• Adv.: ¥3,000 (incl. 33 food and drink tickets worth ¥3,300), door: ¥1,000 (incl. 10 food and drink tickets)
• Bayside Place Hakata (seaside event place)
• 13-6 Chikkohonmachi, Hakata-ku
• 092-281-7701 (10:00~18:00)
Sumiyoshi Shrine Reitaisai
The festival is said to have begun as a way of thanking the Sumiyoshi gods for the legendary Empress Jingu’s safe return from Korea by holding sumo and archery matches. Children wearing Heian-era clothes march in a parade, and intense, traditional Japanese archery while riding on horseback called yabusame will be held. Feel the excitement as elementary students battle it out to be the yokozuna (sumo grand champion) in the young men’s sumo tournament.
• 10/12 (Thu.) ~ 10/14 (Sat.)
• 10/12 (Thu.): children’s procession 16:00~
• 10/13 (Fri.): young sumo wrestling competition 9:00~12:00, yabusame (horseback archery) 11:30~
• Sumiyoshi Shrine
• 3-1-51 Sumiyoshi, Hakata-ku
Hakata Jocho Tour
Fukuoka City initially grew into the city that it is today from two towns: the merchant town of Hakata and the samurai town of Fukuoka. This guided tour will take participants around some of the most famous sites, providing insight into each history of the two distinctive sections of the city. There are six routes with different themes and destinations. Please be aware that the tours are only available in Japanese. Reservations recommended.
• 10/12 (Thu.) ~ 10/16 (Mon.), 10/26 (Thu.) ~ 10/30 (Mon.)
• 10:00~ & 13:30~ (time required: 2 hours)
• ¥500~¥630 (depending on the course)
• Limit of 10 persons per course
• Kushida Jinja (Shrine) *Starting point for all six tours
• 1-41 Kamikawabatamachi, Hakata-ku
• 080-8397-9256 (for reservations and inquiries, 10:00~15:30)
5th Gokusho Horoyoi Bar & Restaurant Hopping
A popular restaurant hopping event! Gokusho is an area teeming with historical shrines and temples, as well as older shops and restaurants. Have lunch, dinner, or even just snacks and drinks at a few places. Around 30 places to choose from – check out the ones you’ve never been to before, or visit old haunts.
• 10/17 (Tue.) ~ 10/19 (Thu.)
• Adv. ¥3,000, door ¥3,600
• Gokusho area
• Gokushomachi, Hakata-ku
• For reservations and inquiries: 080-8397-9256 (Fukuoka Tourism Volunteer Association, 10:00~15:30)
Fukuoka Oktoberfest 2017
Oktoberfest has become one of the most popular autumn events in Fukuoka. This year enjoy 16 brands of authentic draft beer, German sausages and other traditional foods and breads. Cheery music from an authentic German folk band straight from Munich will surely fire up the festive mood inside the huge tent! “Prost!”
• 10/20 (Fri.) ~ 10/29 (Sun.)
• 16:00 ~ 22:00 (Mon. ~ Fri.), 11:00 ~ 22:00 (Sat. ~ Sun.)
• Free (charge for foods & drinks)
• Reisen Park
• Kamikawabatamachi 7, Hakata-ku
Hakata Tomyo Watching 2017
Each October, Hakata streets are illuminated with tens of thousands of paper lanterns. Stroll through the many narrow side streets to see small and large creative lantern formations plus some foods and drinks stalls too. This event, organized by local families, children and others, has become a major event, synonymous with autumn in Hakata. Free shuttle buses to and from Bayside Place Hakata and Tochoji Temple.
• 10/21 (Sat.)
• JR Hakata Station, Gokusho area, Tochoji Temple, Ohama Park, Hakata Elementary School, Naraya area, around Kushida Shrine, Hakata Riverain, Hakata Wharf area, Bayside Place Hakata, Hakata Sennenmon, etc.
Hakata Kenjo Dochu
Crowds gather at this annual autumn event to watch the parade of women in traditional kimono. At this year’s parade, women clad in black kimono and Hakata kenjo obi (a traditional local craft) will walk in procession, accompanied by men with flags and lanterns.
• 10/21 (Sat.)
• 17:20~ Fukuya, Kamikawabata Shotengai (Canal City side), 17:50: Hakataza Theater→ 18:15~ Hakataekimae Hiroba (Hakata-guchi side)→ 18:30 Tochoji Temple→ 19:30 Jotenji Temple, Hakata Sennenno Mon stage
• In case of rain, Kawabata Shotengai only (18:00~)
• 092-409-5162 (Hakata Kenjo Dochu exec. committee)
This traditional festival, with 1,200 years of history, gives thanks to the gods for autumn’s harvest. An ox-drawn carriage pulls an ornate mikoshi (divine palanquin/portable shrine), while children wearing traditional kimono with shishigashira (lion mask) and tachi-eboshi (brimless headgear worn by court nobles) walk in a parade together with a marching band, starting at Kushida Shrine and weaving around the Hakata area.
42nd Nakasu Matsuri
Watch as Nakasu becomes a pedestrian paradise, with wagons lining the streets to sell food and stages hosting amateur wrestling, karaoke contests, taiko drum performances and more. Don’t miss the Kunihiro Onna Mikoshi: a rare view of 300 women carrying a float around the streets (10/27: 19:25~, 10/28: 18:50).
• 10/27 (Fri.) ~ 10/29 (Sun.) *10/27: sake event only
• Hashigo sake-hopping event: adv.: ¥3,000, door: ¥3,500 (incl. 3 drinks and 3 snacks, for sale at Lawson stores nationwide)
• Nakasu 1 ~ 5-chome, Hakata-ku
Hakata Halloween Costume Parade and Contest 2017
Get in the Halloween spirit watching hundreds of participants wearing creepy and creative costumes in the 9th annual parade from Hakata Riverain to Canal City. This is one of the biggest Halloween parades in Kyushu with 500 in attendance. All participants are awarded a small souvenir gift, and best dressers are awarded big prizes after the parade – first prize is ¥150,000! Want to join the parade and costume contest? Registration will begin from 9/22 (Fri.) 10:00 on the official website, open to the first 500 registrants!
Experience the World of Gagaku
With a history that stretches back more than a thousand years, gagaku is a form of Japanese court performance that has been handed down across the generations, enthralling audiences irrespective of time and social context. Gagaku ensemble Reigakusha, who are active both at home and abroad, will deliver a combined easy to understand talk and dance lecture-performance. Enjoy the show at the noh theater of Sumiyoshi Jinja Shrine, a cultural property of Fukuoka City.
• 10/29 (Sun.)
• Morning show: 11:00~, afternoon show: 14:30~
• Adult: ¥1,000, ES: ¥500 (available at Ticket Pia, Lawson Ticket, Fukuoka Parco Tickets Port, Artlier)
• Noh theater, Sumiyoshi Jinja Shrine
• 3-1-51 Sumiyoshi, Hakata-ku
• 092-263-6300 (Fukuoka City Foundation for Arts and Cultural Promotion)
Hakata Light Up Walk 2017
Previously an award winner of the “Lighting Conference Lighting Design Award” historic temples, shrines and gardens in the Hakata area will be beautifully illuminated for five nights during the first week of November. This year’s theme is Hakata Gion Yamakasa, and the event will provide visitors with the chance to enter a number of locations that are not usually open to the public. Some of the sites are likely to get busy, so arrive early to avoid queues. There will also be a special Hakata stall set up in Kushida Jinja (Shrine). You can enter ten sites with single one-day pass.
• 11/1 (Wed.) ~ 11/5 (Sun.)
• 17:30 ~ 21:00 (Admission until 20:45)
• Free entrance (Kushida Shrine, Hakata Sennen-mon, Katsuragi Jizo)
• Fee required (Joten-ji, Tocho-ji, Myoraku-ji, Engaku-ji, Myoden-ji, Shojo-ji, Hongaku-ji, zendo-ji, Kaigen-ji, Ryuguji)
• Adult: adv. ¥1,000, door ¥1,500, JHS and younger: free (must be accompanied by adult)
• 092-419-1012 (Hakata Ward Office, Regional Promotion / Weekdays 10:00~17:00)
Kawabata Night Bazaar
Take a stroll through the 400m arcade of the Kawabata Shotengai at night and enjoy the retro atmosphere while browsing through over 30 open air stalls selling food, handicrafts and more dotting the bazaar-style market! On the night, some stores in the local area will also be offering discounts and perks to customers who have purchased special Hakata Light Up Walk tickets.
Sun Shower: Exhibition of Contemporary Southeast Asian Art (1980 to Present)
The Sun Shower exhibition is held in commemoration of ASEAN’s 50th anniversary. Contemporary creations (from 1980 to the present day) by approximately 30 artists from 10 countries (Indonesia, Cambodia, Singapore, Thailand, Philippines, Brunei, Vietnam, Malaysia, Myanmar, and Laos) will be on display. The remarkable economic development of Southeast Asia has attracted international attention for its art movement as well as the region in general. The art scene has been praised for its ability to tackle a wide range of complex issues,including colonial rule, independence, authoritarian regimes, and democratization in a dynamic, engaging manner. The opening of the exhibition will take place on Nov 3 and will feature talks by some of the participating artists.
• 11/3 (Fri., hol.) ~ 12/25 (Mon.)
• 10:00~20:00 (last entry 19:30)
• Closed: Wed
• Adv.: adult ¥600, HS and college student ¥300, Door: adult ¥800, HS and college student ¥500
• Fukuoka Asian Art Museum
• 3-1 Shimokawabata-machi, Hakata-ku
Hakata Ori Exhibition
Hakata ori (woven textile) is a local folk craft with 770 years of tradition. It has been popular for centuries for use in kimono and obi as a silk textile due to its tensility and thickness of the fabric. At this annual event, new pieces of Hakata ori are displayed inside Jotenji Zen Temple – the birthplace of Hakata ori. The location itself is a reason for visiting – the inside of Jotenji is not usually open to the public. Peruse the pieces on display and vote for your favorite Hakata ori. Enjoy the autumn foliage, and optional outdoor tea ceremony (fee req.) in the Japanese karesansui (rock) garden. Don’t miss the performance of Hakata geisha on Nov. 11 (13:30 and 14:15).
• 11/10 (Fri.) ~ 11/12 (Sun.)
• 10:00~17:00 (Fri. ~ Sat.), 10:00~15:00 (Sun.)
• Jotenji Temple
• 1-29-9 Hakataekimae, Hakata-ku
• 092-472-0761 (Hakata Textile Manufacturer Association)
Otojiro Kawakami Memorial
Hakata-born Otojiro Kawakami was known for penning the popular, Meiji-era satirical song “Oppekepe-bushi”. Having toured the world twice with his own group as the first Japanese theater troupe to perform in the West, Kawakami was also the first person to likewise introduce Western plays like Shakespeare to the Japanese audience. A Buddhist memorial service in his honor is held every year on his death anniversary, Nov. 11, by a Buddhist monk at the Jotenji Temple.
Find out more about Otojiro Kawakami here.
This guide is constantly being updated with more Akihaku events. Check back for more events!