Hakata Gion Yamakasa
During this festival, men race through the city while carying on their shoulders 1 ton floats called kakiyama. This is the dynamic part of the event! The picture above shows one of these floats with the men carrying it. The competition of sorts is separated into guilds representing communities. It represents a display of community spirit and strength. There are 7 guild teams that partake in the event.
The men wearing the traditional fundoshi underwear carry the kakiyama while shouting loudly traditional chants, an important element of the festivals electric atmosphere!
Prior to the racing event, elaborately decorated floats are displayed around the city as a kind of pre-procession ritual. This is the "static" part of the event. These floats are called kazariyama, and used to be carried around as well but because of their great height, problems occurred with them getting stuck on electric cables. For this reason, they are only displayed at 21 locations nowadays. Remember that this is a 750 years old tradition so it was held before the advent of electricity. The purpose of these floats was to keep epidemics away.
Another point of interest here are the dolls placed on these tall floats. They change every year according to theme. Here we see a "Star Wars"-themed kazariyama!
Where and When?
The float-carrying events are held from July 10th and 15th (dates are subject to change so be sure to check the latest information). The kazariyama floats are place around the city from July 1st. You can access the festivities by the Tenji or Hakata Stations.
And while you're in Fukuoka, why don't you try some of the city's famous ramen! See link below: