Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The Hakata Gion Yamakasa Festival

The Hakata Gion Yamakasa Festival has started! This is an annual festival in Fukuoka held from the 1st to the 15th of July. They have two kinds of floats, which are called "Yamakasa" or "Yama" here, Kazari-yama (Decorated float) and Kaki-yama (Carried float). Kazari-yama is publicly released at 14 places in the city during the festival, and I went to see one of them at Hakata Station.

This is really beautiful. Each Kazari-yama is 12 or more meters high and weighs 2 tons. In the olded days, this sized float used to be carried. However, electrical cables had been wired since the late 19th century, the floats often cut the wires. Therefore, they had to separate the floats into two types.

Speaking of Kazari-yama, I hear that it costs about 10 million yen to make a Kazari-yama. However, one of the sponsors cancelled its cooperation and it endangered the continuation of Kazari-yama. Fortunately, officials scrambled to find a new sponsor and a few local companies such as rail companies and oil companies kindly agreed to observe the traditional culture. Then it was January that the continuance was decided because of the new sponsors. Thus thanks to many people's efforts and cooperation, this festival can be continued now.

Anyway, the festival brings us to summer! I would like to enjoy it as much as possible.

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