Now Reports

Hojoya Festival Guide 2022

Autumn in Hakata is not complete without a trip to Hakozaki Shrine. Every year, more than a million people visit the shrine during the festival. The Hojoya festival originates from the teachings of the kami Hachiman, and has continued for more than 1,100 years to give thanks for the blessings of nature and the souls of living creatures, as well as for praying for successful businesses and safety for families.

Aside from observing Shinto rituals such as offering gifts to the gods, the biggest draw for modern visitors is the 500 or so stalls lining both sides of the approach to the shrine. The variety of stalls goes beyond typical festival fare such as candied apples, fried squid, yakitori and takoyaki, to stalls with goldfish catching, pinball-like game, “smart ball” and other games, and the even more-funny-than-scary “haunted house.”

Hojoya Festival is celebrated at Hakozaki Shrine every year between Sep. 12 and 18. For more info, photos and the schedule of what’s on, read on!

Hojoya history and festival highlights in English and Japanese
Hojoya Festival Guide 2022
Presented by Hakozaki Shrine

Hojoya Festival Hakozaki Shrine, 筥崎宮放生会大祭

Photograph provided by Fukuoka City.

Hakozaki Shrine Hojoya Festival
• 9/12 (Mon.) ~ 9/18 (Sun.)
• Hakozaki Shrine
1-22-1 Hakozaki, Higashi-ku, Fukuoka

Schedule changes due to the approach of Typhoon 14 (as of 16:00 on Sep. 16)
• Cancellation of events after 14:00 on Sep. 17
• Cancellation of events after 10:30 on Sep 18
The status of stall openings will be announced on the Hakozaki Shrine website, Instagram @hakozakigu.official and Twitter @hakozakigu_offi.

Nearest Station
• Fukuoka City Subway “Hakozaki-Miyamae Sta.”: There is an entrance to the subway station on the approach to the shrine. 3 min. walk to the main hall of Hakozaki Shrine
• JR Kagoshima Main Line “Hakozaki Sta.”: 8 min. walk to Hakozaki Shrine.

Hojoya Festival Guide Index
Shrine Ceremonies & Events Schedules
Orio Kagura
Haunted House
Fresh Ginger

Hojoya Festival Hakozaki Shrine, 筥崎宮放生会大祭


The Hojoya Festival is said to have originated in the year 720 at the Usa Hachimangu Shinto Shrine in Oita, and was initially held to commemorate the war dead. Since then, the festival has become an event for honoring all living things, particularly the lives that allow us to live. It is said to have been held in Fukuoka since 919 AD at the current location of Hakozaki Shrine, which was considered a sacred place since ancient times. It is also said that the festival began after an oracle from a kami, which went, “Since so much life is taken during war, a festival to celebrate the release of life should be held.” An alternative tale comes from Buddhism: Rusui-choja, a previous life of Buddha, helped fish that had been dying in a dried-up pond; they expressed their gratitude to him and incarnated in thirty-three heavens. Whichever origin story you believe, it is clear that Hojoya celebrates life and freedom; after all, the first two kanji of “Hojoya” are “放” (release) and “生” (live). Don’t miss the last day of the festival, when birds and fish are “freed” in accordance with the will of the kami.

Until the Taisho period (about a century ago), the Hakata merchants would close their shops, celebrate with their families and neighbors, and hold large parties. The women had new kimono made for the occasion and brought local food and dinnerware to the parties, turning them into large picnics. These were called makudashi, and since 1975, groups have been trying to keep alive the Hakatakko spirit by recreating these makudashi.

Hakozaki Shrine Hojoya Festival, 筥崎宮 放生会

Shrine Ceremonies & Stage Events Schedules

Shrine Ceremonies
Every year the shrine holds public ceremonies to pray for a bountiful harvest and to show appreciation for life itself. Most of the events are small prayers or rituals, but there are two that stand out: Hojoya Taisai and Hojo Shinji. These events are a bit more animated, with more to see.

Stage Events
At almost any time you can catch a live performance on the Kaminigiwai Stage, located very close to the main shrine. Entertainment ranges from local stand-up comedy known as Hakata Niwaka, to traditional-style Japanese music, dances, Japanese drumming, and trained monkey performances!

Here is this year’s schedule (subject to change):

9/12 (Mon.)
10:00 Shonichi-sai (初日祭): Prayer to open the first day’s festivities.
14:00 Kenka-sai (献菓祭): Well-known companies belonging to the Japan Sweets Association donate sweets to the shrine.
16:00 Hakata Niwaka by Hakata Niwaka Dojo
19:00 Live acoustic performance by Kyushu Visual Arts Student Band

9/13 (Tue.)
10:00 Futsuka-sai (二日祭): Prayer to open the second day’s festivities.
11:00 Street performance by Kyushu Street Performance Troupe

9/14 (Wed.)
10:00 Mikka-sai (三日祭): Prayer to open the third day’s festivities.
14:00 Jazz Solo Guitar performance by Masa Nakagawa
17:00 Dedication performance by Shuko-kai
18:00 Dedication performance by Hanayagisumena-kai

9/15 (Thu.)
10:00 Hojoya Taisai (放生会大祭): Prayer to open the fourth day’s festivities (on a bigger scale than the opening ritual on all other days). 100 to 200 special guests are invited, and some wear shrine costumes.
15:00 Kenka-sai (献菓祭): A representative of Fukuoka brings ikebana (traditional Japanese floral arrangements), which are ceremonially placed in the main building as decoration.
16:00 Dedication performance by Hakata Koyo Hozon-kai
19:00 Band Live by Raspberry Dream

9/16 (Fri.)
9:00 Itsuka-sai (五日祭): Prayer to open the fifth day’s festivities.
11:00 Kencha-shiki (献茶式): Prepared matcha tea is ceremonially handed over to shrine officials, who offer it to the gods.
18:00 Dedication performance
20:00 The Ventures cover band performance by Blue Rains

9/17 (Sat.)
*Cancellation of events after 14:00
10:00 Muika-sai (六日祭): Prayer to open the sixth day’s festivities.
10:30 Wadaiko (Japanese drum) performance (Hakata Bishin Taiko)
11:30 Fukuya Kuyo Kigan-sai (ふくや供養祈願祭): Prayers for the deceased
12:00 Martial arts performance by the Japan Karate Association Fukuoka Headquarters
13:00 Martial arts performance by Hogyokukai Mugairyu Iaido
13:30 Koto performance *it will be held at the haiden (front shrine).
14:00 Dedication performance
15:00 Makudashi (banquet) by Hakata Chonin Bunka Renmei
16:00 Martial arts performance by Fujiryu-Taijutsu
19:00 Orio Kagura

9/18 (Sun.)
*Cancellation of events after 10:30
10:00 Nousai (納祭): Prayer to open the final day’s festivities
10:30 Martial arts performance by Ryusuikai Karate
12:00 Hula dance
14:00 Hojo Shinji (放生神事): Perhaps the most famous Hojoya ritual! Fish are released into the pond, and birds are released on stage. Children’s procession too.
15:30 Dance performance by Selbst, Pappimache, Papirosier (Hakofes 2022)
19:00 Hakata koma (spinning top) performance by Hakata Koma Hozonkai
20:00 Wadaiko (Japanese drum) performance by Hakata Kinjinshi Taiko

9/12~9/18 (Exhibited in the corridor)
This event has been cancelled due to typhoon 14. (As of Sep. 16, 16:00)
• Bonbori votive lanterns (votive lanterns dedicated to famous persons at Fukuoka & Hakata)
• Ikenobo Ikebana Exhibition
• Exhibitions of Hojoya chanpon and ohajiki

Hojoya Festival Hakozaki Shrine, 筥崎宮放生会大祭

Orio Kagura

Orio Kagura is the forerunner of a dragon dance called iwami kagura, which wowed the audience at the Osaka World Expo 1970. This year at Hojoya, witness Orio Kagura on 9/17 (Sat.) at 19:00~ on a stage to be set up in the precincts of the shrine. With its beautiful costumes and intense movements this dance will surely liven up the festival!
*Admission is free, but basic seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Hojoya Festival Hakozaki Shrine, 筥崎宮放生会大祭

Hojoya Festival Hakozaki Shrine, 筥崎宮放生会大祭


The squeamish should perhaps give these stalls a miss. Otherwise, grab a fishing rod, catch an eel, and then hand it over to the cook, who will turn it into dinner. If eel isn’t your meal of choice, you can also fish for crayfish and crabs. But if you’d rather hunt for new friendships than dinner, you can fish for turtles and goldfish and then take them home with you.

Hojoya Festival Hakozaki Shrine, 筥崎宮放生会大祭

Haunted House

A staple of Japanese teen romance stories, these haunted houses provide a great excuse for couples to cosy up, and for friends to bond over the hammer horror-esque scares. Afterwards, you can reward yourself for your bravery with a sprinkle-covered chocolate banana, some takoyaki, or any of the other delicious festival treats on offer.

Hojoya Festival Hakozaki Shrine, 筥崎宮放生会大祭


A must-see during Hojoya are the chanpon. These glass toys make a gentle popping sound when you blow into them (hence the onomatopoeic name: the popping sounds like “chan,” “pon”). The scene of shrine maidens putting the finishing touches on the chanpon was once known as the scene that signaled the beginning of the autumn season. However, due to the retirement of the chanpon makers, this event has not been held since 2020. The glasswork chanpon will be displayed in the corridor surrounding the main shrine during the Hojoya Festival.

Fresh Ginger

There were once many ginger fields near Hakozaki Shrine before the war, and bundles of ginger made popular presents for merchants to bring home to their wives back in Hakata. Upholding the traditions of the festival, many stalls still sell fresh whole ginger – stalk and all!

Hojoya Festival Hakozaki Shrine, 筥崎宮放生会大祭

Hojoya Festival Hakozaki Shrine, 筥崎宮放生会大祭

Hojoya Festival Hakozaki Shrine, 筥崎宮放生会大祭

Hojoya Festival Hakozaki Shrine, 筥崎宮放生会大祭

Hojoya Festival Hakozaki Shrine, 筥崎宮放生会大祭

Hakozaki Shrine Hojoya Festival, 筥崎宮 放生会

Kyushu Live – Hakozaki Shrine Hojoya Festival 2022 (Sep. 12, 2022)


NOTE: The information presented here was gathered and summarized by the Fukuoka Now staff. While we have done our best to check for accuracy, there might be errors and details may have changed. If you notice any errors or changes, please contact us.

Seasonal Guide
Published: Sep 8, 2022 / Last Updated: Sep 16, 2022

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.