Hakata Gion Yamakasa
Summer in Hakata starts with the Yamakasa as beautifully decorated kazari-yama (decorative floats) made by the masters of Hakata ningyo doll production are shown at different places around the city on July 1st. The origin of the Yamakasa Festival dates back to the Kamakura Period (1192-1333) when, unlike now, 15-meter-high decorated floats were also carried. Floats were divided into 2 types in the later Meiji period (1868-1912) due to obstacles such as electric wires posing safety risks; one type being for kazariyama (display) and the other type for kakiyama (carrying). Even though the weight of one kakiyama float is around 1 ton, each float is successfully carried by teams of 300 men taking turns as the floats compete for the best time possible in covering a 5-km course. The climax of the festival is “Oiyama,” which starts from 4:59 am on the 15th and sees floats rushing around the town as they are incessantly bombarded with water and cheered on by ecstatic crowds on the streets.