Hi everyone, my name is Marcel, and I am from Austria. I am doing an internship at SUiTO FUKUOKA for two months. Yoroshiku !
On the 3rd and 4th May the Hataka Dontaku Festival, the largest citizens Festival in Japan, was held once again in Fukuoka. The history of this Festival goes back to the 12th century where it evolved into a parade headed by people dressed up as gods when visits were paid to the Lord of Fukuoka Castle. Nowadays people dress up in unique costumes parade through the streets while clapping shamoji spoons (large flat spoon) and dance on stages and in squares in various quarters of the town.
On the second day of Dontaku Festival we went to see with our very own eyes what the Festival is like. Our goal was to get a good impression and try to catch the atmosphere as well as the emotions of the event on tape. At first we had a brief stop at the passage in Daimaru followed by a visit at the city hall. Many people already had gathered there to watch the day´s performances on the main stage. I think even more visitors came than usual, because due to the bad weather on the previous day, the parade had been cancelled.
Even a lot of foreigners got attracted by the rush of people. One person from South Africa stated frankly. “I needed to check out where this huge crowd is going and I am really surprised.” We arrived at the right time to watch a dance performance conducted by a local school. After a short while we moved on to Chikagai which is a shopping street beneath Tenjin-station. There we ran into a lot of dance and music groups who wore different costumes, representing their topic or a specific company.
From Tenjin we moved on to Gofukumachi, which is the starting point of the parade, by train. Knowing japanese people to be very punctual we went there a little bit earlier to make sure that we wouldn’t miss the opening of the parade. Arriving at Gofukumachi I was pretty amazed at how many people had been waiting on the streets with their blankets to get a good spot. Nevertheless we still managed to find a nice place to take a lot of pictures and videos. Groups from all around Japan participated in the parade to demonstrate their lovely created costumes, colorful designed cars or their own created march.
After following the parade for quite some time we headed back to Tenjin and watched some shows on the IMS stage. Shortly after we moved on to our last stop of the day, which was at ACROS Fukuoka, the ending point of the parade. The participating groups were loudly welcomed by the crowd for their great performance. Next to the finishing line was a small park where many little booths offered traditional Japanese food and drinks.
Groups who had participated in the parade also used the park as a meeting point as well as to strengthen themselves after the long day. Even we needed a short break after walking and standing the whole afternoon.Even though we visited the Festival for work purposes, we still had a great time and enjoyed ourselves. Especially I really enjoyed seeing and experiencing another traditional Japanese festival.