Fukuoka's Appeal

Fukuoka's Annual Events & Festivals

Japanese love festivals, and festivals in Fukuoka range from massive spectacles with overwhelming crowds to smaller festivals that can be enjoyed at leisure. There isn’t a month that goes by without a festival. The three biggest are Dontaku, a city-wide festival in May that attracts millions of visitors to see its parades and performances, Yamakasa, a festival in July based around Kushida Shrine that culminates in a 4:59 AM race of half-naked men carrying massive and ornate floats around the city as fast as they can run, and Hojoya, a buddhist festival at Hakozaki Shrine in September that packs in crowds who are there to enjoy the vendors and carnival atmosphere. This just touches the surface, as there are numerous traditional festivals, as well as some modern day events such as Asian Party and the Nakasu Jazz Festival.

January 3 @Hakozaki Shrine

Hakozaki Shrine is one of the three major shrines of the god called Hachiman, and is designated as an important national property. Tamaseseri is a festive ritual that takes place here during the new year holidays on January 3rd, where shrine parishioners compete to capture a wooden ball to divine the year’s fortune. The competitors seem impervious to the cold in their fundoshi (loincloth). It is said that if the winner of the ball is from the seaside team, a good seafood haul is foreseen for the year. If the winner is the land team, a good harvest is indicated.

Address 1-22-1, Hakozaki, Higashi-ku, Fukuoka
Access 5 minute walk from the subway Hakozaki Miyamae Station
URL http://www.hakozakigu.or.jp/
Toka Ebisu Festival
January 8-11 @Toka Ebisu Shrine

This festival is held at Toka Ebisu Shrine, which is built in 1591 and dedicated to Ebisu, the god of fisheries. The festival runs from the 8th to the 11th of January and attracts many visitors. The highlight of the festival is the kachi-mairi (walking visit) of geisha girls at around 3 o’clock on the 9th. Large crowds of people gather at this site with their cameras ready, trying to get a glimpse of the geisha as they walk by.

Address 7-1, Higashi-koen, Hakata-ku, Fukuoka
Access -5 minute walk from Chiyo Kencho-guchi subway station
-5 minute walk from JR Yoshizuka station
-5 minute walk from Chiyomachi stop of Nishitetsu bus
(no. 1, 7, 12, 13, 29, 51, 52 or 61).
Setsubun Festival
February 3 @Kushida Shrine, Tocho-ji Temple, etc.

Since the end of the Edo period, people have come to shed their bad luck for the year at Kushida Shrine’s Setsubun Festival.

Visitors enter directly through the mouth of Japan's largest otafuku (smiling mask of a woman) at the shrine’s gate. Inside, you will see people throwing beans and fighting to catch beans thrown by the priests, as well as dancing devils and ornate “monsters.” Adults and kids alike love the festive mood of the shrine. While there, try your luck at the lottery and snack on some stall foods.

Just a 5 minute walk from Kushida Shrine, Tocho-ji Temple also hosts its own Setsubun Festival.

Special stages are built for the Setsubun Festival in front of the main hall, and the Seven Deities of Good Luck and otafuku dance around throwing beans and shouting “Fuku-wa-uchi, Oni-wa-Soto” (Good Luck In, Evil Spirits Out). Some throw more than beans. You might see candy, rice cakes, and even fruit flying through the air. For those who are interested, register and pay 5,000 yen to get your own beans to toss. It costs nothing to watch, though.

Address [Kushida Shrine]
1-41, Kamikawabata-machi, Hakata-ku, Fukuoka

[Tocho-ji Temple]
2-4 Gokusho-machi, Hakata-ku
Access [Kushida Shrine]
2 minute walk from the Nishitetsu Bus "Canal City Hakata-mae" bus stop
5 minute walk from "Nakasu Kawabata" or the "Gion" Subway Station

[Tocho-ji Temple]
7 minute walk from the Nishitetsu Bus "Canal City Hakata-mae" bus stop
Adjacent to the "Gion" Subway Station
Kyokusui no En
First Sunday in March @Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine

This is an elegant representation of a shrine ritual from the Heian era (the 9th to the 12th centuries), where each attendant in a kimono creates a poem by a stream as they wait for a floating cup of sake to reach them. When the sake arrives, they stop and drink.

Address 7-1, Saifu 4-chome, Dazaifu, Fukuoka
Access Short Walk from Nishitetsu Dazaifu station
Fares Museum of Ancient Treasures: Adult 300yen/ High school and University students 200yen/ Elementary and Junior high students 100yen

Sugawara Michizane Exhibition Hall: Adult 200yen/ High school and University students 150yen/ Elementary and Junior high students 100yen
Open Hours The first Sunday in March (go-on even if it rains)
URL http://www.dazaifutenmangu.or.jp/home.htm
Hakata Dontaku Port Festival
May 3-4 @Tenjin and elsewhere

Hakata merchants first created this festival, based on a traditional celebration called Hakata Matsubayashi, the origin of which dates back 830 years. The word "dontaku" comes from the Dutch word “zontag,” meaning holiday. Many local people join this festival on the 3rd and 4th of May. The main feature is the Dontaku parade, which stretches for 1,230 meters along Meiji Street, from Gofuku-machi to Tenjin. There are also 30 or more stages set up for performances around the city during the festival period, bringing a festival feeling to the entire city.

Hakata Gion Yamakasa
July 1-15 @Kushida Shrine

Hakata Gion Yamakasa is an event which announces the coming of summer in Hakata, Fukuoka. Boasting a history of over 770 years, this is a ritual event dedicated to Kushida Shrine, the grand tutelary shrine of Hakata, and has been designated as an important intangible folk cultural asset by the government. When gorgeous Yamakasa floats are displayed at many places in the city on the 1st of July, the city of Fukuoka/Hakata become filled with a festive atmosphere of Yamakasa Festival. “Oiyama”, which is held on 4:59 AM of July 15th as the climax event of the festival announces the coming of real summer to the city of Hakata.

Address 1-41, Kamikawabata-machi, Hakata-ku, Fukuoka
Access 2 minute walk from the Nishitetsu Bus "Canal City Hakata-mae" bus stop
5 minute walk from "Nakasu Kawabata" or the "Gion" Subway Station
September 12-18 @Hakozaki Shrine

Nearly all Fukuoka residents have slipped into their yukatas and been to the Hojoya Festival, at least once.

This autumn festival at Hakozaki Shrine in Higashi Ward is held every year from the 12th to 18th of September. The approach to the shrine stretches for a kilometer, and is packed with 500 vendors and a steady stream of visitors. Hojoya was originally a shrine ritual meant to pay respect to every living creature, and to prohibit killing. Many people also visit the shrine on this occasion to give thanks for a rich autumn harvest and to pray for traffic safety and business success.

Address 1-22-1, Hakozaki, Higashi-ku, Fukuoka
Access 5 minutes walk from Hakozakimiya-mae subway station
Asian Party
All September and October@Fukuoka City

Asian Party started in 1990 as an Asian Month Festival and changed to Asian Party in 2013 to enhance the friendship and exchange that blossomed during the Asia Pacific Exposition: YOKATOPIA. With the motto, “Bringing People Together in Asia and Fukuoka City,” Asian Party events are supported by many organizations and institutions. On any given day, there are likely to be a few dance, musical or cultural events, as well as plenty of food stalls selling varieties of Asian foods.

Address At various places in Fukuoka City
Access At various places in Fukuoka
URL http://www.city.fukuoka.lg.jp/asianparty/
Nakasu Festival
At the beginning of October @Nakasu

This festival was started to revitalize the Nakasu area. The highlight of the Nakasu Matsuri is the Kunihiro Onna Mikoshi, the parade of portable shrines carried by girls through the area. There are several events on the special stage set up for the festival.

Address Nakasu, Hakata-ku, Fukuoka
Access By subway: get off at Nakasu-kawabata station
The Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament
November @Fukuoka Kokusai Center

The Kyushu tournament began in 1957, upgraded to a formal tournament from what had been an exhibition tour. Since 1981, it has been held in Fukuoka Kokusai Center. Many jungyo beya (places where wrestlers sleep and practice) are set up around various parts of the city during the tournament.

Address 2-2, Chikko Hon-machi, Hakata-ku, Fukuoka
Access By Bus: Take Nishitetsu bus (no.46, 47, 48 or 63) and get off at Hakata Futoh Iriguchi stop (3 min. walk) or take bus (no. 11, 19, 47 or 48) and get off at Sekijo-machi stop (3 min. walk)