Home - Yamakasa - Schedule English  | Site Map

  Hakata Gion Yamakasa
  About Yamakasa
Event Schedule
  Daikoku Route Map
  Hakata Matsubayashi
  Event Schedule

late June -- Creating the yamadai
The yamadai (wooden frame of the kakiyama = race float) is built by well-skilled yama-daiku (carpenters) using ropes and wedges and without a single nail.
To firmly support the yamadai, ropes called yatsu-monji-nawa are tied to the top and bottom of the four legs of to the yamadai.
This sturdy structure even against accidental impact has been created by the wisdom of predecessors.
early July -- Boujime
Six kaki-bou (bars) are set on top of the yama-dai with thick ropes of hemp, again without using a single nail. This process is called Boujime. After Boujime, is finished, the yama-dai is decorated with a doll and various ornaments.

Then, a ceremony called Goshin-ire is held. With the completion of Goshin-ire, the kaki-yama becomes the object of worship. In the case of Daikoku-nagare, from this day on, the kaki-yama will be guarded nightly by men represented from each region on rotation.

July 9 -- Oshioi-tori
Praying for safety during the festival, men of all ages visit the shores at Hakozaki Shrine to bring back purified sand called oshioi. The choochin (paper lanterns) are lit, and all men return to Kushida Shrine around 7:00 p.m.

Since each nagare (team) and its regions have their own design of happi and choochin, the number of designs becomes numerous. There is no doubt that each man has pride of his own design.

July 10 -- Nagare-gaki
This is the first day to carry the kaki-yama (race float). The kaki-yama weighs approximately one ton (including four to six daiagari = conductors who sit on its top), and is carried by about 26 men (28 men in some nagare). The kaki-yama moves fast by the pushing power of ato-oshi.
The kaki-yama is carried to every region of Daikoku-nagare. All of the men become excited with the first experience of the year.
July 11 -- Asa-yama
Asa-yama is the event to show respect to elders by offering festive meals and assigning them to the honorary daiagari position. It is also called Shuugi-yama (celebrative yamakasa). In the case of Daikoku-nagare, each chou-sodai (representatives of each region) receives the meal wearing the costume called
toshiyori-katabira (a single-layered kimono made from hemp) and often become daiagari wearing it.
July 11 -- Tanagare-gaki
Tanagare-gaki is the event in which each team carries its float into the areas of the other teams. During the event, Daikoku-nagare performs Kushida-iri (a short lap around the ground of Kushida Shrine) for the first time of the year.
Nishi-nagare, Ebisu-nagare and Doi-nagare do not conduct Tanagare-gaki.
July 12 -- Oiyama-narashi
Oiyama-narashi may be considered the rehearsal of Oiyama@(final race). All of the men carry their own float and run with all of their might through the streets of Hakata. They all have strong pride of their own team, and are extremely serious.
July 13 -- Shuudan-yamamise
On this particular event, the kaki-yama leaves the Hakata area (merchantsf town) and enters Fukuoka area (a castle town). The honor of daiagari is offered to famous persons of Fukuoka for this event.
Meiji-doori (avenue), the course of Shuudan-yamamise, is crowded with many spectators every year.
In the case of Daikoku-nagare, soon after Shuudan-yamamise, Tsuizen-yama ceremony is held, in which the kaki-yama is brought to the houses of former chou-sodai and former torishimari who have deceased within the year.

In front of each alter of the deceased, all of the men sing together a song called Iwai-medeta (Hakata Iwai-uta), and burn incense for the soul of the deceased. After Tsuizen-yama, Kourou-yama ceremony is also held at the touban-cho (region in charge) headquarters, in which a memorial service is cooperatively held for the deceased who have contributed to Daikoku-nagare.

July 14 -- Nagare-gaki
Similarly to Nagare-gaki held on July 10, the kaki-yama is carried to every region of Daikoku-nagare.
Higashi-nagare and Chiyo-nagare do not conduct nagare-gaki.
July 15 -- Oiyama

At the dawn on the 15th, the final race called Oiyama is performed. At 4:59 a.m., the first nagare (team) carries their float and dashes into Kushida Shrine on the signal of a drum beat.
Time is measured for (1) short track, Kushida-iri (a lap around the grounds of Kushida Shrine from the entrance to the exit, and (2) long distance (a course of approximately five kilometers). Following the first nagare, each nagare performs the Oiyama every five minutes (starting time from 5:05, 5:10, 5:15, 5:20, 5:25, and 5:30 respectively). Only the first nagare stops the float inside Kushida Shrine, turns toward Noh stage, sings together the Iwai-medeta song, and restarts the race. There is a six minute time lag between the starting time of the first and second nagare because one minute is kept for the song.
After Oiyama
After arriving at the goal of the long distance course (called mawari-dome), each team returns the float to its own nagare headquarters.
In the case of Daikoku-nagare, all of the ornaments including the doll are removed from the float, and the yama-dai (wooden frame) is passed to the next toban-chou.
Then, the yama-dai is quickly dismantled without a trace. It is quite striking that the kaki-yama is destroyed so quickly without hesitation. However, all of the men look forward to the new one of the next year.

  Home | Back to Top