Hakata wouldn’t be Hakata without Yamakasa!
In Hakata, the word nobosemon is used to refer to someone who gets totally absorbed in something. In June and July, the city is filled with Yamakasa nobosemon who are crazy about the festival, and the Momochi area is no exception.
Hakata Gion Yamakasa, a Shinto ritual associated with Kushida Shrine, is said to have originated when Shoichi Kokushi, the founder of Jotenji Temple, sprinkled holy water around the town to purify it and pray for the eradication of an epidemic that had broken out in Hakata. This year, for the first time in three years, the nobosemon of Yamakasa will once again carry the portable shrines (each measuring 3m high and weighing one ton) on their shoulders while running at full speed, and their activities are already in full swing.
This month’s feature in Momochi Now is Yamakasa in Momochi. In this issue, we introduce the history of Yamakasa and the culture of the townspeople involved in the festival as well as the Yamakasa-related events in Momochi.
6/21(Tue.) ~ 8/28 (Sun.)
Hakata Gion Yamakasa Exhibition 21
The Hakata Gion Yamakasa exhibition has been held almost every year since the museum opened. This year marks the 21st exhibition and features paintings that show what the festival was like from the middle of the Edo era until the Tokugawa shogunate ended. The Yamakasa of yesteryear was much different from the modern festival we know today, and the exhibition includes a panel display of a folding screen depicting the route of the Hakata Gion Yamakasa parade, the oldest known painting of Yamakasa.
“Folding screen, depicting Hakata Gion Yamakasa procession conceivably in 1686 / 博多祇園山笠巡行図屏風” – A replica is on display in the permanent exhibition room.
“Yamakasa float pictured in 1863 / 1863（文久3年）博多祇園山笠図” – Yamakasa decorated with the battle of Dannoura in which Minamoto no Yoshitsune was active
Permanent Exhibition: The World of Yamakasa
The Fukuoka City Museum’s permanent exhibition on the Hakata Gion Yamakasa can be viewed at any time, even when the festival is not being held. It introduces the history of Fukuoka and what the lives of the townspeople used to be like, and visitors can catch a glimpse of the Yamakasa culture that lives on even today. Display items include the Gunshi Kanbei-themed kakiyama racing float that was built especially for the museum, paintings from the Edo era and a diorama depicting what the festival was like in the Meiji era. Photographs are permitted.
Fukuoka City Museum
• 2F 3-1-1 Momochihama, Sawara-ku, Fukuoka
• 9:30~17:30 (last admission 17:00)
• Open until 20:00 on Fri., Sat., Sun., and hol from 7/22 to 8/26, and on 8/15 (Mon) , admission until 19:30.
• Closed: Mon. (open if Mon. is a hol. and closed next day), 8/16
• Admission fee: ¥200, college & HS ¥150, free for under JHS
6/28 (Tue.) ~ 7/10 (Sun.)
Hakata Dolls: Hakata Festival Exhibition
This exhibition of Hakata dolls, a traditional local handicraft, is organized around the theme of festivals. It is held every July, and 35 dolls crafted by 13 doll makers depicting scenes from the Yamakasa and Dontaku festivals are on display and available for purchase.
Title: “Otokoiki” (left) and “Yama-nobose” (right) by Shuichi Kimoto, the Hakata Doll Commerce and Industry Cooperative
1/8th Scale Mini Yamakasa
The Mini Yamakasa, a 1/8th scale model of a real Yamakasa float, was planned and produced by the Hakata Doll Commerce and Industry Cooperative in 2013. The traditional technique of bojime, or tightening ropes to secure the float to the stand without using nails, is used, and the dolls and decorations are made of the same materials as the real thing, which results in the artisans’ skills being evident in every detail.
7/12 (Tue.) ~7/14 (Thu.)
For the three days leading up to the Oiyama float race, a variety of merchandise is available for purchase including Hakata dolls depicting Yamakasa, obi belts made from Hakata-ori textiles that the float carriers use to keep their long happi coats closed, tenugui hand towels featuring Hakata kiri-e prints, tenugui hand towels emblazoned with illustrations of the Hakata Gion Yamakasa by famed graphic designer Isao Nishijima, paper fans and postcards.
Hakata Traditional Craft Art Design Museum
• 2F inside Fukuoka City Museum 3-1-1 Momochihama, Sawara-ku, Fukuoka
• 9:30~17:30 (last admission 17:00)
• Closed: Mon. (open if Mon. is a hol. and closed next day), 12/28~1/4
• Free admission
7/1 (Fri.) ~ 7/14 (Thu.)
No. 12 Decorative Float at Mark Is
This year’s No. 12 decorative Yamakasa float (Fukuoka Dome area) will be displayed on the Momochi Stage on the 2nd floor of Mark Is Fukuoka. Work on the float will begin around June 20, and it will be fully revealed on July 1, when the Yamakasa festivities commence.
• Front-facing theme: “Take Back the Title: Genkai Hawks”
The front side expresses a wish for the victory of the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks.
• Back-facing theme: “Duel of Ganryujima”
The back side depicts Musashi Miyamoto and Kojiro Sasaki as they boldly face off on the island of Ganryujima (officially, Funashima) in the Kanmon Straits.
Hilton Fukuoka Sea Hawk Day Trip Plan
The climax of the Hakata Gion Yamakasa festival, the Oiyama float race, starts at 4:55. Depending on how you see it, it is either very early in the morning or the middle of the night. The day trip plan is convenient for those guests who want to check in after watching the float race and then spend some time with a relaxing ocean view.
• Rooms are available from 10:00 to 17:00
• Free parking lot
• 20% discount at restaurants (during room use hours from 10:00 to 17:00, applicable to all • restaurants in the hotel)
• Nespresso machine in your room
• Free Wifi in your room (only for Hilton Honors members with no annual membership fee)
Hilton Fukuoka Sea Hawk
• 2-2-3, Jigyohama, Chuo-ku, Fukuoka
• Reservations by phone: 092-844-8000 (10:00~18:00)
• Reservations by web: https://bit.ly/3aW4KVI
Seahawk Galleria, a shopping arcade with a diverse array of 16 shops such as accessories, fashion, sundries, daily necessities, and souvenirs, is located inside the Hilton Fukuoka Seahawk seaside hotel. There’s also a 24h convenience store that can be accessed next to PayPay Dome too. It’s an ideal spot from which to explore the Momochi area.
2-2-3 Jigyohama, Chuo-ku, Fukuoka
Usually 10:00 ~ 20:00 (FamilyMart / 24h)
*Hours vary for each shop due to COVID-19. (as of the end of June 2022)
This Seahawk Galleria website offers suggestions for walking tours of the Seaside Momochi area, where many of Fukuoka’s landmarks are located. Check it for information on what’s hot in Momochi now – and for ideas for a path to stroll not found in guidebooks.
Your Guide to The Latest in Momochi – Momochi Now!
Learn about all the attractions in Momochi from the well-known to the newest and lesser known.
▷Previous reports: https://www.fukuoka-now.com/en/momochi-now/