Autumn

Most Popular Fukuoka Autumn Events and Festivals 2018

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There are several candidate spots for you to put in the itinerary of your autumn trip to Japan. If you can’t make up your mind, how about choosing Fukuoka in Kyushu for a visit? Fukuoka has mild and comfortable weather in fall and is a very traditional and historical place. All Japanese learn that Fukuoka prospered as a gateway from and to Asian neighbors in ancient and medieval times at their history classes.

And nowadays, modern Fukuoka has largely focused on its economy based on service business startups like IT and other high-tech manufacturing sectors. With the well-balanced mingling of old traditions and new trends, Fukuoka will offer a lot of fun things to try and interesting places to visit. Besides, you can also enjoy beautiful nature if you go to the mountainous areas. In this article, I picked up some of the most amazing and fascinating events to attend for each of the three months of fall. Let’s look at it closer!


Contents

September

October

November

 September

Even though the summer heat still continues, and typhoons might approach in September, it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy your trip to one of the most lively places in Japan.

Fukuoka Freedom Night Market (August 3rd – October 28th, 2018)

Image courtesy of Tomomarusan

This event usually starts in August and takes place on weekends through October in Nakasu – the largest entertainment (and red-light) district in Hakata. There are a lot of food and drink booths in Seiryu Park along the Naka River. Some booths deal with accessories, handicrafts, fortune telling, artwork, and festival games. New commercial booths and street gigs come and go, which makes this market area “new and fresh”. August is right in the middle of summer and the temperatures stay high even at nights, so I recommend visiting the market in September or October. For more details, check on the following website, URL: http://nightmarket.jp/ (Japanese only)

The Creators (September 22nd – 23rd) from Asian Party 2018

The Creators is one of the three major events of Asian Party, the series of multicultural events in September through October in collaboration with other Asian countries. This event features cutting-edge digital and visual technologies, and there are some performances by several digital artists on the special stage next to Fukuoka City Hall. Also, there are hands-on booths where the participants can join workshops to learn about mobile phone apps, and you can actually be taught how to make simple apps there. The admission is free. (Asian Party also features Fukuoka International Film Festival and other arts and culture events.) Here is the website of The Creators, URL: https://the-creator.jp/.

Dazaifu Shinkoshiki Taisai (September 21th – 25th, 2018)

Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine, now located in the eponymous city, was built over the grave of Sugawara-no-Michizane (菅原道眞 845-903), two years after his death. Taisai (大祭 Main Festival) lasts for five days around the Autumn Equinox Holiday in September every year. The shrine is dedicated to Michizane, known as the Tenjin (天神) deity of learning and scholarship.

The festival is held to console his spirit as well as wish for bumper crops next year. On Shubun-no-hi (Autumn Equinox Holiday), about 500 people in novelty costumes of Japanese medieval times march down the street for about 2 kilometers from Tenmangu main shrine to a temple which used to be Michizane’s old residence. This awesome procession is followed by the gorgeously decorated festival float carrying Muchizane’s spirit on it, taking about 2 hours. This will make you feel as if to get yourself slipped back in time to the Heian Period. For more information on this festival, click on Tenmangu’s official website link, URL: http://www.dazaifutenmangu.or.jp/en    

Festa do Brazil Fukuoka (September 29th – 30th, 2018)

Brazilian festivals are very popular among Japanese people and take place in various locations across the country. Festa do Brazil Fukuoka is the largest event of its kind in Kyushu. During the period of the two-day festival (12:00-18:00), Bayside Hakata, which is the venue of the annual event that started three years ago, is filled with enthusiasm from excited people.

You can experience a lot of fun at the Brazilian festival at Bayside Hakata: carnival eats, booths selling Brazilian knick-knacks and goods, recycle workshops for children (making musical instruments from waste materials). Many artists on the stage perform music and dances, which heats up the excitement of the audience. Also, you can jump into the samba parade for free. If you want to enjoy your Brazilian experience, click on the following website for more details, URL: http://festadobrasil.wixsite.com/festadobrasilfukuoka/english (This event has been postponed to November 23rd and 24th.)

Uminaka Flower Festival (September 29th – November 4th)

Image courtesy of プレティオ

Uminonakamichi Kaihin-Koen (海の中道海浜公園 Uminonakamichi Seaside Park) is a national park located on a huge area of sandbar from central Fukuoka, being a place for recreation and relaxation for many people. It has playgrounds, an amusement park, and flower gardens with millions of various flowers. You will admire different flowers at different times of the year. In autumn, 1.5 million cosmos flowers in bloom are overwhelmingly beautiful on the hilly field which is 15,000 m2 large. The best time to view these flowers is from late September to mid-October. This is perfect for autumn sauntering. Bike rental is available (from ¥400 to ¥700) at the entrance gate to see the entire park. The park with an area of 260 hectares is too big to cover it on foot. Here is the official website of the park, URL: https://uminaka-park.jp/en/.

 

October

October is the perfect time to do fun activities and enjoy them. It is the best of the three months of fall at it is not too hot and not too cold yet in Fukuoka.

Munakata Shrine Taisai (October 1st – 3rd, 2018)

Image courtesy of Awaknowjp

Nothing says more about Japanese matsuri like “mikoshi” – portable shrines carried on the streets during these traditional events. In this 750-year-old and world heritage-listed festival, portable shrines are carried by the fishing boats. On October 1st every year, two goddesses from separate shrines on small islands off the coast come together at another shrine on the mainland that enshrines the third goddess. About 300 fishing boats from nearby ports navigate in convoy with colorful flags that say “tairyo” meaning a good catch of fish. They escort two main ships carrying the portable shrines. The scenes of the “procession of fishing boats” will surely be overwhelming. Here is from the link for the shrine’s website, URL: http://www.munakata-taisha.or.jp/html/autumn

Okawa Furniture Exhibition and Woodwork Festival (October 6th – 8th, 2018)

Okawa Town has been famous for its furniture industry for hundreds of years. If you are interested in Japanese style furniture and interior goods made of wood, how about visiting this outstanding event? You will see a lot of wooden drawers, tables, chairs and so on. All for human use. But wouldn’t you like to choose cute sofas or beds for your pets, especially for your cats? The video footage last year of cats lying on miniature sofas or beds got more than 500 hundred thousand views. This brought Okawa furniture makers a great reputation from around the world for their excellent craftsmanship.

Okawa Woodwork Festival has many other fun things to experience: workshops for families to make simple woodworks like wooden lattice coasters and chairs or to paint wooden boards with colorful glues, food booths, flea market, and so on. If you want to visit this festival, here is the official website, URL: http://www.okawa.or.jp/exhibition (Japanese only)

Fukuchi Tea Party (October 13th – 14th, 2018)

Fukuchi Town has been famous for its production of quality pottery since the Edo period. The pottery called Agano ware (上野焼) is associated mainly with tea ceremony use. To promote the local pottery industry and aim for its economic synergy on other business fields, the town started this event (local people call “Fukuchi Find Festival”) in collaboration with 50 pastry chefs.

A lot of gorgeous pieces of cake created by their wild imagination and deft hands must be a feast for your eyes and treat for your stomach. Also, you can enjoy the taste of coffee made by a world-famous barista and serve in Agano wear cups. In Kanada Stadium, the main venue of the event, some musicians play a concert to liven up the festivity. Here is the official website, URL: http://www.town.fukuchi.lg.jp/

Kanada Inari Shrine Festival (October 20th – 21st, 2018)

This festival takes place in Fukuchi Town, where the “Fukuchi Find Festival” tea party takes place. Inari is a Japanese Shinto deity and represents many kinds of things: rice, sake, tea, foxes, fertility and so on. Inari also covers general prosperity and worldly success, so it is one of the most popular “kamisama (神様)” (gods) among Japanese people. In October every year, Kanada Inari Shrine holds a festival for people to ask Inari to bring them happiness and good harvest next year.

At the festival, local people carry the festival floats called “Yamakasa (山笠)” from each of the districts they live. Each Yamakasa is different and has gorgeous decorations with beautiful illumination on them. Behind Kanada Station is the venue specially arranged for the Yamakasa to gather and show the viewers some performances. All Yamakasas move to the accompaniment of traditional matsuri music in perfect order, which surely wows everyone. You can see everything that a Japanese matsuri can show you. For more information, click on the webpage of Fukuchi Town, URL: http://www.town.fukuchi.lg.jp/

Kokura Halloween Parade (October 21st, 2018)

If my memory serves me correctly, Halloween wasn’t appreciated and celebrated in Japan 10 years ago so much as it is now. Since then, the custom of wearing weird and cute costumes among young people has started to take hold in various areas around the country. On a Sunday in late October, JR Kokura Station in Kita-Kyushu becomes a sanctuary where cosplay lovers gather to show up and decide who looks weirder.

This Halloween event, one of the largest Halloween celebrations in West Japan, attracts a lot of people from Kyushu and from other regions. You can join the Halloween parade for free if you wear something that makes you look “strange”. Sign up via the Internet for the cosplay contest in advance, and you may be able to win the Cosplayers’ Contest prize of ¥100,000. If you are ambitious enough to be chosen as the best cosplayer, check on the following webpage for more details, URL: http://www.kokurahalloween.jp/ (Japanese only)

November

November is the best time to enjoy beautiful “Momiji” fall colors. Feel the brisk air from the outings in nature and feel the breath of winter.

Yanagawa Hakushu Festival (November 2nd – 4th, 2018)

This festival takes place in Yanagawa, which is the hometown of a famous poet – Kitahara Hakushu (北原白秋 1885-1942). 1,500 guests break into a lot of groups to ride 130 gondola-shaped boats called “donko”. Those are decorated with small red paper lanterns. The donko boats float down a roughly four kilometer-long canal of the Yanagawa River. Along the canal, you will notice the stages where people play wadaiko drums and sing traditional ballads. So, the tourists on the boats can see their hospitable performances. This will add a unique scent to your trip to Japan. If you want to enjoy this fantastic and luxurious night, check on the following website, URL: http://www.yanagawa-net.com/.(Japanese)

Tagawa Coal Mine Festival (November 3rd – 4th)

Image courtesy of M-MIX

Tagawa City used to thrive during the economic boom mostly from coal mining because Tagawa had now defunct Miike Coal Mine, which was the largest in Japan at the time. The economy in the town was so good that a popular song – “Tanko-bushi (炭坑節)” became extremely popular among the mine workers who were proud of their prosperity.

Now this song is one of the most popular Bon Odori songs that people want to dance to during the Bon Festival in mid-August. Tagawa is the birthplace of this folk song. The pair of 110-year-old and 45-meter brick “chimneys” depicted in the Tanko-bushi song is in the Coal Mine Commemorative Park (石炭記念公園), which is the venue of the festival. They are so beautiful when lit up at night. The highlight of the festival is the dancing performance by all the people participating – “so-odori (総踊り). Here is the event’s official website, URL: http://www.joho-tagawa.jp/coalmine (Japanese only)

Kita-Kyushu Pop Culture Festival (November 10th – 11th, 2018)

If you are a manga/anime lover, how about joining this festival of Japanese subculture which is the largest of its kind in Kyushu. A lot of booths selling products related to manga and TV games are waiting for you to browse and enjoy. On top of that, the festival venue is full of excitement from both performers (idol singers and voice actors) and the audience for these two days. The admission is free (but you need to pay for some events). If you want to be exposed to the enthusiasm, get more information from their official website, URL: https://www.ktqpopfes.jp/2018/

Autumn Leaves in Akizuki (mid-November to early December)

Autumn leaves represent beautiful nature and the change of seasons in Japan. There are many places where you can admire the autumn colors of Mother Nature. I strongly recommend the remains of Akizuki Castle (秋月城) for momijigari this autumn. Scarlet leaves on Japanese zelkova and maple trees make a beautiful contrast with the Black Gate at the ruins of Akizuki Castle, which is a Tangible Cultural Property of the Prefecture. There is no illumination at night, so I recommend you visit during the daytime. Look at the webpage about Akizuki Castle: https://www.crossroadfukuoka.jp/en/event/?mode=detail&id=4000000000808

Moji Port “Torokko” Train Relay Race (September and November)

This event is ridiculously simple: running in a relay race. Who are the runners? The team of “yuru-chara” mascots vs Japan’s smallest and slowest locomotive. All you have to do is just watch and cheer them up. Five races (10:30-15:00) take place in the Moji Port Retro District (門司港レトロ地区) on the third Sunday of March, May, July, September, and November. The team of seven “yuru-chara” characters runs a 100-meter course on the sidewalk (in front of the building of Moji Medical Center) going along with the railway tracks where and the opponent locomotive runs as well.

Seeing each character run and stagger (at a dead run?) and hand off the baton to the next runner won’t hold you back from screaming “Ganbare (Keep it up!)”. You can get on the train cars pulled by the locomotive (¥300 and ¥150 charged for an adult and a child respectively) to cheer them up from inside. Here is the official website, URL: https://m.facebook.com/torokko.vs.yuruchara/

Closing Remarks

It is obvious that there are more places I want to introduce to you. Fukuoka is such an attractive prefecture. I hope this article will help you come up with the best route to enjoy your pastime in Japan.
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Image courtesy of Tomomarusan

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