For festival lovers like me, Akama Inn Festival should be on your bucket list. It is not just an ordinary festival where you can see beautiful and colourful costumes, eat a variety of street food, but also be a part of a real Japanese wedding ceremony with a real bride and groom. You can also enjoy some delicious wine from the two-hundred-year-old winery established during the Edo period just down the street.
This festival is usually held every third Sunday of February. This year, it will be held on February 21, 2016. The long street of Akama Yado is closed for traffic and is lined up with stalls selling food and local products. You can also see many participants wearing Japanese traditional costumes.
Akama Yado District used to be a part of Chikuzen during the Edo Period. It used to be the central part of town where travellers used to stop and spend the night. There were many inns and taverns for guests to stay and enjoy. Some of these old buildings still remain standing up to now along the streets of Akama Yado. They are the only proof that once in the history, this place was a bustling street.
The highlight of the festival is the Japanese traditional wedding. The bride wears the traditional Japanese wedding dress, a beautiful and intricate white kimono. It is called shiromuku in Japanese. The groom wears a black montsuki hakama. The first part of the wedding is the bridal parade with women wearing kimono and men wearing hakama parading down the street. There are also other parade participants wearing traditional clothing such as school bands and performers wearing colourful costumes. These delegates serve as the entourage of the wedding couple. The parade goes up to Suga Shrine where a Shinto wedding ceremony is held. The second part is the announcement and presentation of the newly-weds.
In addition to the festival is the opening of the two-hundred-year-old winery, established in the Edo period. Visitors can have a free taste of amazake ( a sweet drink made from fermented rice) and nihonshu (Japanese rice wine).
Akama Yado (赤間宿) is located in Akama in Munakata, Fukuoka Prefecture. From Fukuoka Airport, take the subway to Hakata station and pay 250 yen and from Hakata station take the JR train to Kyoikudaimae which costs 650 yen. Akama Yado is about three hundred meters away to the left of Kyoikudaimae station.