One of the “Big 3” Hakata Events: Hojoya Shrine Festival

  • I love festivals! That is one of the many reasons why I love Japan. There are so many elements you can learn and discover about the country’s culture in a single festival.

    You can observe men and women, both young and elderly proudly wearing their traditional clothes. You can also savour the various types of Japanese food and delicacies sold in the open-air food stalls (yatai).

    You can also observe traditional dances and so much more. When I hear about any upcoming festivals, I am always thrilled and excited about attending, as I like to attend as many as I can if time allows. The latest festival I have been to is the Hojoya Festival, also known as the Hakozaki Shrine Festival.

    Hakozaki Shrine

    Hakozakigu or Hakozaki Shrine is the first shrine that ever caught my attention when I first came to Fukuoka, Japan. Its towering Shinto shrine archway (torii) seemed to beckon me from afar. It is huge and very majestic, that the feeling of entering is as if you are entering a kingdom.

    Shinto shrine archway

    The walkway to the front of the shrine is about a kilometre long and is beautifully lined up with trees.
    The shrine is said to be founded in 923. The main building was burned down during the Mongolian Invasion of 1274, and the shrine also suffered fires on several occasions. The present inner sanctuary and hall of worship were rebuilt in 1546, and the storied gate was rebuilt in 1594. They have all been designated as cultural assets of national importance. The guardian deity is the spirit of Emperor Ojin, born in Umimachi, Fukuoka Prefecture. His placenta was placed in a box (hako) and is kept in the shrine compound where a pine tree was planted on the site as a symbol of it. The site is a few meters away from the front of the shrine and is easily recognized by a blazing red wooden enclosure.

    The Festival

    One of the oldest festivals in Japan, Hojoya Festival has been held continuously for more than one thousand years. It is also considered as one of the big three festivals in Fukuoka among, the Dontaku held in Golden Week and Yamakasa held in July.

    Hojoya is held in mid-September (September 12th -18th), the onset of autumn in Hakata. The festival is celebrated to honour life and campaign against the taking of life. The kilometre-long walkway to the shrine is lined with seven hundred open-air stalls selling various Japanese foods, fun items, traditional crafts, and souvenirs. It attracts thousands of people not only from Fukuoka City but also the neighbouring cities and prefectures too.

    Hojoya Festival Event Information