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Hakata Yamakasa Festival: Main Event & Kakiyama, Kazariyama Map

Yamakasa-NaviWhat is this Yamakasa?Hakata Yamakasa Festival: Main Event & Kakiyama, Kazariyama Map

Hakata Yamakasa Festival: Main Event & Kakiyama, Kazariyama Map

※This schedule is a date of the year 2011. Yamakasa schedule will change every year. by Yamakasa Navi

I picked up this book at one of the Kazariyama in Kawabata arcade.



It’s a very handy book! It has schedules, maps and everything you need to know about what’s going on. So I’m going to translate some of the more vital stuff out of it. But so long as you know your way a little bit around Fukuoka (or can line up the map pages with Google Maps) this will still be a handy book for you. If you’re interested in this festival, pick up a copy somewhere!


Okay! Here it goes. Some of the info from the first page:


Yamakasa Explained in Simple Terms

Yamakasa: A big, highly ornate float that gets carried around. The Hakata Yamakasa festival is named after it.
Yama o Kaku: To carry a Yamakasa around with the strength of people.
Kakiyama: A Yamakasa made to be carried around. (Get it? Yama o Kaku?)
Kazariyama: A Yamakasa made to be displayed. (Kazari: decoration)
Nagare: AKA Stream. Made by Toyotoshi Hideyoshi after he razed and rebuilt Hakata in the early Edo period, they are the ancient districts of Hakata city. They include: Nishi (West), Chiyo, Ebisu, Doi, Daikoku, Higashi (west) and Nakasu. They make up the 7 ‘teams’ that participate in the festival by producing, displaying and eventually racing their Kakiyama through the streets of old Hakata city.
Kakite: A “Carry Hand”; someone who participates in the festival as a Yamakasa carrier. Or a real Participant.

Who Takes Part in the Yamakasa Festival?

Not everyone can run in the Yamakasa festival. You have the right if you were either born and raised on the land of one of the Nagare, or gain special permission from the bosses of that Nagare to participate. Besides being a Kakite though, there are other jobs done by volunteers, some of whom are from beyond the boundaries of the old towns.

The smaller nagare have 500-600 participants, the larger ones up to 2,000. An estimated 6,000 people run overall.

Men of all ages are allowed to participate; girls only up until the 3rd or 4th year of primary school.

Hakata Yamakasa Translated Course Map (click for bigger)


The Nagare and their Kakiyama & Kazariyama

The Kakiyama & Kazariyama are both made new every year, with a design agreed upon by each Nagare’s team. The Kazariyama can reach as much as 9 m in height, and it used to be carried in the Oiyama race until power lines became a problem. Now the Kazariyama is displayed while the smaller Kakiyama is carried. Each Kazariyama has a front and back end. The Front (Omote) must always face towards Kushida Shrine. The back (Miokuri) faces away from the shrine. Each of these have unique themed decorations.

While the Kazariyama stays on display for the full length of the festival, the Kakiyama will have a “parking spot” to which it always returns after being carried in events. The location of Kazariyamas and Kakiyama parking spots is marked out on the map. As the festival has grown in reputation, many organisations with no connection to Hakata city or the historical roots of the festivities have begun to display Kazariyama around town. These include places like Canal City, Tenjin and even the Yahoo Dome Baseball Stadium.  That’s why there’s only a few Kakiyama around focused around the course area, but stacks of Kazariyama everywhere.

The themes have official, kanji-only titles. I’ve roughly paraphrased them to something that kind of makes sense. Where I know the story / figured out what the theme was, I’ve linked articles.

Yamakasa Order / Number Nagare Kakiyama (K)
or Kazariyama (Z)
Decoration Theme
Number One Nishi Nagare K K: Nagamasa Hakata Iri
“Nagamasa Entering Hakata”
Number Two Chiyo Nagare K, Z K: Kaidou Kintarou
“Kintarou’s happy childhood”
Z Omote: Tenkafubu no Homare
“In Honor of Tenkafubu” Tenkafubu has something to do with Oda Nobunaga.
Z Miokuri: Ashigara Kaidou no Isaoshi
“The strong youth Ashigara’s Noble Deeds” (Wikipedia doesn’t seem to know this story…)
Number Three Ebisu Nagare K K: Tettsui Shunpuu ni Mau
‘”An Iron Hammer dancing in the Spring Breeze”
Number Four Doi Nagare K K:Soga Fuji no Homare
“In Honor of Soga Fuji”
Number Five Daikoku Nagare K K: Tsune ni Ichijiki Shin o Gyouzu
“A heart that always moves in a straight line.”
Number Six Higashi Nagare K, Z K: Mononofu Hakki ni Mukaite meiun wo inoru
“Facing a samurai, wish for your own doom.”
Z Omote: Tenka Ryouran Sengoku no Jin
“an encampment from the civil war that engulfed the nation.”
Z Miokuri: Yamakasa Kigen Yurai no Enishi
“The bonds of chance and fate that brought about the Yamakasa Festival.”
Number Seven Nakasu Nagare K, Z K: Nankou Minatogawa no Funsen
“Hard Fighting at Nankou, Minatogawa”
Z Omote: Koubou Chihaya Jou
“The aftermath of the offense and defence at Chihaya Castle
Z Miokuri: Roukou Myouan Tenka o Sukuu
“An old man’s ingenious idea saves the nation”
Number Eight Kami-Kawabata Z* Z Omote: Kyouichijou modoribashi
“The bridge by which Kyouichi must return”
Z Miokuri: Hideyoshi Shizugadake no kassen
“Hideoyoshi’s battle on the Shizugadake peak”
Number Nine Shintencho Z Z Omote: shuppoujinrai roku monsen
“A lightning-fast send-off to the other world” (Roku Monsen, also Roku Dousen, refers to 6 coins that used to be buried with bodies in a buddhist ritual as fare money for crossing the river of the dead.)
Z Miokuri: Anime Bishokuya Toriko
“The Anime Gourmet Toriko”
Number Ten Hakata Riverain Z Z Omote: Hakata no Goushou
“Wealthy merchants of Hakata”
Z Miokuri: Tenshouin Atsuhime
Depicts the life of Teshouin Atsuhime.
Number Eleven Tenjin Ichoume
(First block)
Z Z Omote: Suenaga Genkou no Fukun
Suenaga‘s deeds of arms in the Mongolian Invasion”
Z Miokuri:Takauji tatara hama no homare
“In honour of Takauji at the battle of Tatara Hama”
Number Twelve Watanabe Doori
Ichoume (first block)
Z Z Omote: Issunboushi Banashi
“The tale of Issun Boushi
Z Miokuri: Anime Meitantei Konan
“Anime Detective Conan”
Number Thirteen Fukuoka Dome
(Yahoo Dome)
Z Z Omote: Taka Nobory Kaishingeki
“The Glorious Advance of the Hawk’s Flight”
It’s a (rather worrying) mural of the Softbank Hawks, Fukuoka’s Baseball team.
Z Miokuri: Funsen Ebira no Ume
“The Hard-fighting Quiver’s Plum” Quiver as in a quiver of arrows… this one puzzled me but it shows a battle, and ume can also mean some kind of rank….
Number Fourteen Hakata Station Shopping
Centre Association
Z Z Omote: Oosaka Natsu no Jin
“Osaka’s Fortress in Summer”
Z Miokuri: One Piece.
Needs no translation.
Number Fifteen Canal City Hakata Z Z Omote: ryousei koutei ni chouda wo issu
Apparently a famous Haiku, something like “To miss a snake in the taillight of a comet.” I’m not sure what it’s supposed to mean though…
Z Miokuri: Bukun Momotarou
“The Deeds of Momotarou
Number Sixteen Kawabata Central District Z Z Omote: Sengoku no Onna Gou
“The women of the Warring States period”
Z Miokuri: Doraemon
Number Seventeen Solaria Z Z Omote: kairiki sumou hita don
“Hita Don, the superhumanly strong sumo wrestler”
Hita don brings me to a page about cooking from Hita city in western Kyushu… so I’m guessing some local legend has not made it onto the internet yet.
Z Miokuri: Yuusha Raionzu
“The heroes, Lions”. This is also a baseball mural. Is someone in Kyushu seriously not barracking for the Hawks? I can’t really believe it… maybe it’s a local league thing.
Non-Numbered Kushida Shrine Z Z Omote: Chishou Shuppuu Sekigahara
“A resourceful General, a strong wind at Sekigahara.”
Z Miokuri: Shinwa Ama no Iwato no Tan
“The legendary story of Ama no Iwato, Amaterasu’s Cave”
This is the legend of how the goddess Amaterasu was fetched out of her cave, where she was hiding after her brother bullied her. It’s one of the big Japanese myths.


OK, next will be the event schedule and maps for each individual event. PHEW! I’m sure nothing will take as long as all that cross-referencing just did though.

Until then, happy Kazariyama hunting! Are they different to look at now that you know a bit about their stories too?


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