Fukuoka is located on the island of Kyushu in Japan and is well-known not only for its beautiful landscapes and architecture but also for its amazing festivals. Among many spectacular festivals across Japan, Hakata Dontaku can definitely be considered as one of those. It is an extravagant event which is also referred to as the ‘Citizens Festival’. So, let’s take a closer look at why this festival is so spectacular!
Hakata Dontaku started as a New Year’s event in 1179 and was known as ‘toka’ or ‘matsubayashi’ and was celebrated quite extravagantly during the Edo period between 1603 – 1867. During the event, many residents dressed as gods and paraded around the city – this parade was then labeled ‘Torimon’. Although it was banned by the Meiji government, many people wanted to preserve the tradition and therefore, changed the name to ‘Dontaku’ – which comes from the Dutch word ‘Zhondag’ which means ‘Sunday’ or ‘holiday’. However, the event ended temporarily during World War II and was revived not long after the war to help rejuvenate the town with the joy and vitality that the event brings.
With a history of approximately 800 years, Hakata Dontaku is one of the largest festivals in Japan. It is usually held on May 3 – 4 with more than 2 million spectators turning up every year from different parts of the world to celebrate. Many people dress up in various colorful costumes and parade around the streets while clapping wooden utensils (shamoji) – used for serving rice – together. There is also a parade of beautifully decorated vehicles called ‘hana jidosha’.
This amazing festival is now referred to as the ‘Hakata Dontaku Port Festival’ as it all happens near the Hakata Port area. Also, Hakata is a district located in the Fukuoka city east of the Naka-gawa river. There are also many events such as dancing, shamisen plays, competitions, and so much more that happens during the festival. In terms of food, there are plenty of restaurants around the Hakata area where you can enjoy delicious Japanese cuisine at affordable prices.
So, if you do get the opportunity to visit the Fukuoka prefecture during Golden Week, be sure not to miss one of the largest festivals in Japan. The entire city of Fukuoka eagerly awaits this event every single year!