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Hakata Gion Yamakasa Kazariyama Guide 2019

Hakata Gion Yamakasa is now in full swing! Fourteen decorative Yamakasa floats are now set up around the city, heralding in the start of the Hakata Gion Yamakasa, one of the biggest traditional festivals of Hakata. These decorative floats will be on exhibit until July 15, when the festival climaxes with the Oiyama event. (For more info on the big day’s festivities, click here).

The kazariyama floats, also known as kazariyamakasa, are almost 10~15 meters tall. The float located at Kamikawabata-dori is the only kazariyama that will be carried through the street (also known as hashiru kazariyama) during Oiyama. You can also see it being carried through the streets of Hakata during the Oiyamanarashi practice (July 12 in the afternoon) and at the actual Oiyama (early morning on July 15). Don’t miss the experience of watching a giant kazariyama zipping through the city!

The design of each kazariyama changes each year, designed and made by master Hakata doll makers. Although the floats will be demolished after the festival, you can still see some kazariyama all-year-round at Kyushu National Museum, Kawabata Zenzai Square, Kushida Shrine and Fukuoka Airport International Terminal.

Photos: Serina Togawa and Nick Szasz
Float description translations: Kae Yamada

NOTE REGARDING TEXT: Descriptions of the floats have been translated by us in hopes of providing non-Japanese with a better understanding of the displays. Considerable effort has been made to be accurate but there might be factual errors regarding and the spelling of proper nouns. If you notice any, please share your corrections with us and we will make amendments as soon as possible.

View the Yamakasa Map 2019 in a larger map.

Float #1 Chiyo Nagare

On display at: Chiyo 1-chome, Hakata-ku
Access: Near Chiyo-Kenchoguchi Subway Sta.

Front theme: 延寿万歳景雲興 (Enju Banzai Keiun Okoru)
Grandiose dance and music performed during the enthronement of a new emperor, symbolizing the beginning of the Reiwa era in Japan.

Back theme: 時今也桔梗旗挙 (Toki wa Ima Kikyou no Hataage)
Mitsuhide Akechi, a samurai during the Sengoku period, forced his master Nobunaga Oda to commit suicide during his quest to bring the entire country under his rule in 1582.

Float #5 Higashi Nagare

On display at: Kamigofuku-machi, Hakata-ku
Access: Near Gofukumachi Subway Sta.

Front and back theme: 源平合戦武将誉 (Genpei Gassen Bujo no Homare)
A depiction of samurai Yoritomo Minamoto, the founder and the first shōgun of the Kamakura shogunate of Japan, after winning the battle of Genpei Gassen against the forces of Kiyomori Taira. Famous scenes from the series of battles between 1177 to 1185 are illustrated on four sides of the float.

Float #6 Nakasu Nagare

On display at: Nakasu, Hakata-ku
Access: 5 min. on foot from Nakasu-Kawabata Subway Sta.

Front theme: 雄姿剣洗川 (Yushiken wo Araukawa)
In 1359, the Northern and Southern Imperial Courts battled fiercely in an area in Fukuoka. A samurai’s sword is said to have turned the river water red after slashing so many enemies.

Back theme: 義経千本桜 (Yoshitsune Senbon-zakura)
Samurai Yoshitune Minamoto was impressed by a young fox who stayed close to a Japanese drum which was made from the skin of the fox’s mother. This became a famous motif for kabuki performance.

Float #8 Kamikawabata-dori

On display at: Kamikawabata-machi, Hakata-ku
Access: 3 min. on foot from Nakasu-Kawabata Subway Sta.

Front theme: 神武東征誉 (Jinmu Tosei no Homare)
An episode from Japanese mythology where the first Emperor Jinmu left his hometown and went through numbers of hardships until his enthronement.

Back theme: 三人形 (Mitsu Ningyo)
In the famous “pleasure district” of Yoshiwara in Edo period, three dolls gained souls and began to dance. This is a popular motif in kabuki performances.

Float #17 Kawabata Chuogai

On display at: Kamikawabata-machi, Hakata-ku
Access: Near Nakasu-Kawabata Subway Sta.

Front theme: 決闘巌流島 (Ketto Ganryojima)
Musashi Miyamoto and Kojiro Sasaki held a famous duel on the Ganryujima Island between the prefectures of Fukuoka and Yamaguchi. Kojiro attacked Musashi with his iron sword, but Musashi defeated him using a long wooden sword.

Back theme: KBCふるさとWish (KBC Furusato Wish)
A popular television show by Kyushu Asahi Broadcasting Co.,Ltd.

Float #9 Solaria

On display at: Solaria Plaza, Tenjin, Chuo-ku
Access: 5 min. on foot from Tenjin Subway Sta.

Front theme: 挙旗筑紫武王門 (Tsukushi no Buo no mon ni Hata wo Aguru)
Prince Kanenaga went on a quest to the island of Kyushu at the age of eight to subdue the area in those chaotic years. The emperor of the Ming dynasty gave him the title “King of Japan.”

Back theme: 世界闘球日本陣 (Sekai Tokyu Nihon no Jin)
A special float to celebrate the Rugby World Cup 2019 Japan match in Fukuoka.

Float #10 Shintencho

On display at: Shintencho, Tenjin, Chuo-ku
Access: 3 min. on foot from Tenjin Subway Sta.

Front theme: 神話稲羽之素菟 (Shinwa Inaba no Shiro Usagi)
A white rabbit which attempted to cross the sea by tricking a shark was caught and stripped of its skin, but a god named Okuninushi no Mikoto saved him as told in an episode of Japanese mythology.

Back theme: サザエさん (Sazae-san)
A popular character in newspapers and television, Sazae’s family is a peaceful family loved by everyone.

Float #11 Hakata Riverain

On display at: Hakata Riverain, Shimokawabata-machi, Hakata-ku
Access: Near Nakasu-Kawabata Subway Sta.

大化の改新 乙巳の変 (Taika no Kaishin, Isshi no Hen)
The government under the rule of the emperor was established after Taika no Kaishin, a war that broke out in 645.

Back theme: 足柄山の金太郎 (Ashigarayama no Kintaro)
Kintaro was a brave and strong boy who grew up in the forest. According to Japanese folklore, even fierce bears made friends with the powerful boy.

Float #12 Tenjin 1-Chome

On display at: Tenjin, Chuo-ku
Access: 5 min. on foot from Tenjin Subway Sta.

Front theme: 安曇磯良丸伝説 (Asumino-Isora Maru Densetsu)
Empress Jingu, ready to sail out to conquer the Korean Peninsula, called out to the god Azumino-Isora to calm the sea.

Back theme: 記紀伝神功皇后 (Kikiden Jingu Kongo)
Empress Jingu is said to have given birth to a prince in Fukuoka. She had been on a mission to become pregnant.

Float #13 Watanabe-dori 1-Chome

On display at: Watanabe-dori, Chuo-ku
Access: 10 min. on foot from Tenjin-minami Subway Sta.

Front theme: 勇婦の誉れ (Yufu no Homare)
Tomoe-gozen was a very brave soldier who fell at a battle against the forces of Yoritomo Minamoto during the Heian era.

Back theme: 愛と勇気のアンパンマン (Ai to Yuki no Anpanman)
Love and Courage of Anpanman

Float #14 Fukuoka Yahuoku! Dome

On display at: Fukuoka Yahuoku! Dome, Jigyohama, Chuo-ku
Access: 15 min. on foot from Tojinmachi Subway Sta.

Front theme: 令和玄海飛躍鷹 (Reiwa Genkai Hiyaku Taka)
Fukuoka-based pro baseball team SoftBank Hawks are striving to win another championship this season. Energetic performances of their young players are represented.

Back theme: 真田勇戦誉 (Sanada Yusen no Homare)
Samurai Yukimura Sanada dared to rebel against the powerful Tokugawa shogunate. The impact of his summer and winter rebellions shocked the shogunate.

Float #15 Hakataeki Shoten Rengokai

On display at: Hakata Station, Hakata-ku

Front theme: 合戦川中島 (Kassen Kawanakajima)
Two of the highly admired samurai in Sengoku Period, Shingen Takeda and Kenshin Uesugi, began a series of skirmishes in the area around Nagano Prefecture in 1553. It was later called the Battle of Kawanakajima.

Back theme: ラグビーワールドカップ 2019 (Rugby World Cup 2019)
Rugby World Cup began in 1987 and takes place once every four years. This year is the 9th Rugby World Cup and is the first to be held in Asia. Three matches will be played in Fukuoka.

Float #16 Canal City Hakata

On display at: Sumiyoshi, Hakata-ku
Access: 10 min. on foot from Nakasu-Kawabata or Gionmachi Subway Sta.

Front theme: 勧進帳 (Kanjincho)
Yoshitsune Minamoto had to leave Kyoto due to his hatred for his brother, samurai Yoritomo Minamoto. The sentiment of young Yoshitsune and his subordinate Benkei is represented.

Back theme: 令月風和桜報恩 (Reigetsu Kaze Yawaragite Hoon no Sakura)
Shiro, a clever white dog, lived with an old couple with honest and generous hearts. In return for their kindness, the dog barked at the root of a dead tree where treasures appeared from. After the death of the dog, his ashes were scattered on the roots, and beautiful cherry blossoms emerged from the once-dead tree.

Extra: Kushida Shrine

On display at: Kushida Shrine (Kamikawabata-machi, Hakata-ku)
Access: 7 min. on foot from Gionmachi Subway Sta.

Front theme: 神話海幸彦と山幸彦 (Shinwa Umisarahiko to Yamasachihiko)
Yamasachihiko lost a fishhook he borrowed from his brother. During his search for it, he meets the beautiful daughter of the Sea God and spent three years in the castle underwater.

Back theme: 流星光底逸長蛇 (Ryusei Kotei Choda wo Issu)
Shingen Takeda guarded himself with a gunbai fan as Kenshin Uesugi attacked by horseback with a sword. The remarkable scene is said to have happened during the Battle of Kawanakajima.

Originally written in Jun. 2016, updated in Jul. 2019.
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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. This report was originally written in Jun. 2016.

Fukuoka City
Published: Jul 4, 2019 / Last Updated: Jul 9, 2019