One of the best ways to learn about a town’s culture is through their festivals. From garments and rituals to dances and instruments, every little detail of the festival has its own meaning. Here are some of the festivals that you can experience in Fukuoka’s Miyawaka City (宮若市)!
Miyawaka is one of the 28 cities in Fukuoka. Established in 2006, it brought together the Miyata and Wakamiya towns. The city flower is the cluster amaryllis or hurricane lilies and the city tree is the sakura tree.
Kadomatsu (門松) is a Japanese New Year decoration that symbolizes long life and is usually made of bamboo and pine trees. The ornament is displayed in pairs in front of homes and establishments from December 13 to January 15. A key element of the kadomatsu is its three bamboo shoots representing heaven, humanity, and earth. After January 15, a ritual called “dondo yaki” is held where the kadomatsu are burned.
On December 3, 2017, a giant kadomatsu will appear at the Wakamiya Interchange! This kadomatsu has a height of 9.5 meters and a diameter of 5 meters. It is made from hundreds of moso and madake bamboo and takes around a month to be completed! Similar to its smaller counterparts, the giant kadomatsu of Miyawaka is also burned in January.
Summer is usually synonymous with fireflies and fireworks in Japan. Beginning in June, fireflies abound in Miyawaka! Appreciate the dance of glowing lights as these fireflies flutter in the summer night sky.
Join the Miyawaka Firefly Festival held at the Nishikura no Oka Sports Park. Outdoor activities such as band performances and hula dances make the celebration livelier. Try the local specialties at the food stalls during the festival, too!
Just as there is a sakura forecast in spring, there is also a firefly forecast so be sure to check it out in order to find the best time to seek these beautiful creatures as they have a very short lifespan. Weather conditions greatly affect their presence even in their usual habitat.
Some of the oldest festivals in Japan have been held for hundreds of years. It is amazing to see how Japanese practices and rituals are kept alive up to the present day. One such festival is Miyawaka City’s Wakamiya Hachimangu Hojyoya and Daimyo Procession.
This festival dates all the way back to the Edo period. Held for three days in the beginning of October, the festival is a true spectacle! On the first day, the Daimyo Procession is participated by around 500 people wearing samurai costumes. On the second day, there is a musical performance using drums and other traditional instruments. The highlight of the festival is on the last day where four-meter-high floats are paraded by men in sumo wrestlers’ loincloth or mawashi (廻し). The Wakamiya Hachimangu Hojyoya festival is religious in nature and involves the release of captive animals.
The Wakamiya Hachimangu Hojyoya and Daimyo Procession take place every two years (on even years) at the Wakamiya Hachimangu Shrine.
Celebrate with the locals and take part in these three festivals of Miyawaka! There is always something new to learn and experience with each cultural encounter, especially in Japan!