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1997 Hakata-Gion-Yamakasa Daikoku-nagare



The early yamakasa in 1854
Hakata Gion Yamakasa is a Gion festival held each year from July 1st through the 15th within the old Hakata area. There exist many Gion festivals which are related to the Yasaka Shrine. In most cases, participants pull their own wheel-equipped Kami-nigiwai (such as Hiki-yama, Dashi, Yatai, Yamahoko, etc.) in the area of festival. On the contrary, in Hakata Gion Yamakasa, participants carry the wheel-free Yamakasa on their shoulders to dedicate to the Kushida Shrine, and therefore, Hakata Gion Yamakasa can be considered a unique Gion festival.

Although there exist various theories regarding the origins of the Yamakasa Festival, the most prevailing one is as follows: In the summer of 1241, a plague ran rampant throughout Hakata, causing many deaths. At that time, Shooichi Kokushi (Enji Benyen), the founding priest of Jotenji Temple (currently located in Hakata Ward), conducted a service to expel the evil spirits causing the plague.
Kushida Shrine
He rode atop a segakidana (a platform used to hold offerings for hungry ghosts) carried by young men from all districts, and sprinkled sacred water. According to this theory, the Yamakasa Festival has a history of over 760 years. This long history may be realized due to the existence of nagare (self-governing organization consisting of several regions). Each nagare dedicates its own kaki-yama to Kushida Shrine every year.




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