A festival of massive floats to celebrate autumn
Karatsu in Saga Prefecture has been hosting the Karatsu Kunchi Festival since the Edo period (1603-1867) to celebrate the bountiful harvests of autumn. This festival is a grand three-day parade held at the beginning of November, featuring huge floats known as hikiyama. These floats are paraded through the town and eventually make their way from Karatsu Shrine to Nishino Beach. The Karatsu Kunchi Festival is not only a celebration of the harvest season but also a display of Karatsu’s rich cultural heritage.
The floats themselves are a sight to behold. They are impressive designs that range from samurai helmets to mythical sea creatures and dragons. There are a total of 14 floats, each with its own unique design and significance. The floats have been designated as UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage, highlighting their importance in preserving japan‘s cultural traditions.
One of the iconic floats is the killer whale float, which symbolizes the abundance of marine life in the surrounding seas. It is a majestic sight as it glides through the streets, capturing the attention of both locals and visitors alike. Another notable float is the Urashima Taro float, depicting the legendary fisherman who fell into a deep sleep and woke up in a future where everything had changed. This float serves as a reminder of the passage of time and the fleeting nature of life.
The Karatsu Kunchi Festival attracts a crowd of around 500,000 people during the three-day event. It is a lively and vibrant celebration, with locals and visitors coming together to enjoy the festivities. The streets are lined with food stalls offering a variety of delicious traditional snacks and drinks. The air is filled with the sound of taiko drums and traditional music, creating a festive atmosphere that engulfs the entire city.
In addition to the parade, there are various other activities and events that take place during the festival. One of the highlights is the Hikiyama Exhibition Hall, where the floats are displayed throughout the year. Visitors can admire the intricate craftsmanship and learn more about the history and significance of each float. It is a great opportunity to get up close and personal with these magnificent works of art.
The Karatsu Kunchi Festival coincides with the Saga International Balloon Fiesta, adding another level of excitement to the festivities. The sky is filled with colorful hot air balloons, creating a stunning backdrop for the parade. It is a truly magical experience to witness the floats passing underneath the floating balloons, creating a visual spectacle that is unmatched.
For those planning to attend the festival, the best way to get to Karatsu is by train. From Saga Station, you can take the JR Karatsu Line to Karatsu Station, which takes just over an hour. If you are coming from Hakata Station, there are various express lines that will get you to Karatsu Station in around 80 minutes. Once you arrive in Karatsu, the festival takes place throughout the city, so you can easily navigate your way to the parade route and other event locations.
To fully immerse yourself in the festival experience, it is recommended to make hotel reservations early. With the large number of visitors expected during the festival, accommodations can fill up quickly. There are several hotels and guesthouses in Karatsu that offer comfortable and convenient lodging options. Staying in the city allows you to fully enjoy the festival without having to worry about transportation.
The Karatsu Kunchi Festival is not only a celebration of autumn and the harvest season but also a testament to the rich cultural heritage of Karatsu. It is a time for the community to come together and showcase their traditions and customs. The festival is a visual feast for the eyes, with the floats serving as a symbol of Karatsu’s identity and pride.
In conclusion, the Karatsu Kunchi Festival is a must-see event for anyone interested in experiencing the vibrant culture and traditions of Japan. The massive floats, the lively atmosphere, and the rich history make it a truly unforgettable experience. Whether you are a local or a visitor, the festival offers something for everyone to enjoy. So mark your calendars and make your way to Karatsu to witness this spectacular celebration of autumn.
Address And Maps Location:
Shinko-machi, Karatsu-shi, Saga-ken