Beppu Park Cherry Blossoms – Enjoy Sakura in the Heart of Oita
The vast majority of Japanese people would have heard the song ‘Tankobushi’ which is traditionally sung during the Obon period. They may hear reference in the song to ‘Miiketanko’ which is a coal mining area of Tagawa. The industry, although over many years ago, is memorialized with a museum and memorial park.
There is another reason why Tagawa is special and that’s for it’s annual kawatari Jinko.
Put on by the Fujimatchimangou shrine, Kawatari jinko is said to be one of Fukuoka’s five biggest festivals. The festival was designated as one of the first important intangible folk culture assets of the prefecture back in 1970 and it continues to draw crowds.
Kawatari Jinko is held on the third Saturday of May each year and is an important day in the local calendar and is when prayers are made at the shrine for a good harvest.
The festival is said to have stemmed from 1558-1570 when there was widespread sickness and drought in Ita village. There is said to be a Deity called Ujigami who cured the villagers and restored life to the area. The locals uphold this prayer ritual and have done for over 400 years!
For the festival, the deity is said to ride in the sacred palanquin from one side of the river to the other.
11 floating shrines gather in front of Fujihachimangou shrine, the two smaller portable shrines then depart, whilst they do so there is a special ‘shishimai’ dance performed. Two dancers become the legs of a mythical animals, one male and the other female and they dance together as the smaller shrines are walked around..
At around 3:30pm all of the floating shrines head to the river and with the sound of traditional Taiko drumming, they enter the water.
When the whistle is blown the men supporting the floating shrines tip it back and fort, move it around and a huge water fight erupts between the floats. With the floats weighing in between 2 and 4 tons it’s quite an impressive show of strength and the cheers from the riverbank make this an unforgettable sight.
Sometimes dry ice is added onboard the shrines so that when they enter the water smoke appears from around it and adds to the magical atmosphere!
At around noon the shrines begin to congregate again and at 1:30pm the two portable shrines depart again but the heavy floating shrines head to the river but in the opposite order as the day before.
When darkness falls, the shrines head to the right hand side of the river where they stay for the evening and are illuminated for spectators to see.
The event is watched by thousands of spectators on the site as well as it being broadcast on television. Being a spectator there is an incredible experience and the bright colours and spirit of the event will stay with you.
No need to go hungry as the thousands of spectators are well catered for with okonomiyaki, snow cones, squid, crepes and hamburgers and much more.
If you’d like a break from the cheering at the riverside you can try your hand at pottery and purchase beautiful locally crafted pieces.
The nearest train station to the festival is Tagawa-ita station. To reach it from Hakata station you’ll be boarding a train which goes through Nogata. The journey would take you just over 2 hours.
Alternatively you can drive down and there’s a large parking area that can accommodate 800 cars by Tagawa city hall. From there you can then get on the free shuttle bus to the shrine and start your day.
Fukuoka prefecture is super lively prefecture among all other areas in Kyushu. People, here are very open and friendly. On top of it, the local food tastes incredible! Either you are looking for some exceptional cultural experience through attending festivals and visiting historic sites, or you enjoy chilling in nature, Fukuoka Prefecture has something to offer anyone who decides to visit it. The following article will introduce you to the most popular events and attractions of Fukuoka Prefecture. Please check the link below!
Being one of the largest cities in Japan and the biggest in Kyusyu, Fukuoka attracts a lot of visitors as well. Besides, Fukuoka is one of the most comfortable cities to live not only in Japan but in the world as well. No wonder so many people visit this tranquil city in spring to see mesmerizing cherry blossoms. However, it boasts many exciting events that represent Fukuoka’s current “freshness and vibrancy”. The following article picked up the most attractive and must-see events in Fukuoka this spring. Please take a look!
If you are in Fukuoka during Golden Week at the beginning of May, you must see the most popular traditional festival of Kyushu – Hakata Dontaku Festival! It has over 830 years of history. And is one of the most famous festivals in the region indeed. It gathers more than 2 million people every year. Come and enjoy watching colorful festival cars, delicious local food and of course dancing with locals! For more information on Hakata Dontaku Festival, please click on the link below.
A lot of people when they get to a Matsuri for the first time feel a bit lost. They confuse about what is happening around. If you are new to Japanese Festivals or want to know an alternative way of how you can enjoy these events, the following article will provide you with a set of helpful tips on how to choose a proper festival and activities you should try there. Please don`t hesitate to take a look at it!
Image courtesy of Tomomarusan
For all foodies who enjoy Japanese Festivals would be nice to get acquainted with the rich choice offered by Yatai (Japanese festival food stalls). The food presented during Matsuri is pretty different from the one you get at the restaurants in Japan. Besides, there is a certain charm in grabbing some snack from a food stall and diving back into the festival crowd. I am sure that you will discover something new about Japanese festival food from the following article!