In December 2016, 33 different Japanese matsuri (festivals) were elevated to UNESCO Cultural Intangible Property status. And two weeks ago, five selected Kyushu matsuri celebrated in downtown Fukuoka with a trimmed down, but still impressive, display of the mikoshi (floats) that feature so prominently in the festivals.
The matsuri represented included: Hakata Gion Yamakasa Gyoji, Tobata Gion Oyamagasa Gyoji, Karatsu Kunchi-no Hikiyama Gyoji, Hita Gion-no Hikiyama Gyoji, and the Yatsushiro Myokensai-no Shinko Gyoji. I’ve never even been to our own Yamakasa, since it’s usually around 5:00 AM on a week day (it will be on a Saturday this year, but I’m heading to Nagoya that day….) so I was excited for the opportunity to see all five parade samples. So glad that I did. Definitely a unique experience.
I was up front across from the festival entrance, which proved to be a perfect spot, as several of the floats stopped to do special demonstrations there. Before that, though, they did two or three trial runs, which were great for taking pics. The mikoshi did at least two full live runs around the central park in Tenjin, which is pretty impressive, given the size of some of the floats (one was several stories tall!) and that it was a warm, cloudless day. The floats were amazing, and it was exhilarating to see how much fun (despite the effort involved) all the participants were having.
Hopefully in the future I can make it to each of these matsuri, but for now, Matsuri With the Kyushu will have to do.