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Published on 04.27.2016
Hakata is one of the central wards in the city of Fukuoka, which is within the Fukuoka Prefecture. Initially separate regions during the Middle Ages, the castle town of Hakata was merged into Fukuoka in 1889.
The region has several unique festivals one of which is the Hakata Tomyo Watching. This is a lantern festival that has started just over two decades ago, with the message of “light offered to God”. It is a modern version of Sen Tomyo festival when people used to visit temples and shrines in praying for the safety and wellness of their families. As this tradition had been fading away, Hakata Tomyo Watching was introduced as a way of keeping traditional alive.
The festival takes place in autumn, usually on the third Saturday in October. During this time, all popular places, such as temples, schools, shopping malls and the streets are lit with thousands of lanterns- more than 30,000 to be precise. The lanterns come in many colours and all shapes and sizes, from traditional to modern to creative types. They are arranged in such a fashion that when looking from above they form a picture, which can be of anything, for example of Ultraman (famous children’s TV character) or of the Wind God.
During the festival there are also traditional performance that take place on the streets. It is best to start from Kushida Shrine and follow wherever the lights take you. Since some of the designs are too big to be fathomed from ground-level, there will be occasions when visitors can view from a higher ground; if there is a queue, then it is a good idea to join it and see what the hype is all about.
The festival lasts for only three hours, it is best to get there on time to enjoy a delightful walk among thousands and thousands of candle lights fluttering in the wind. The organisers of the festival also provide free bus tours and Tomyo map for visitors to make it easier to find their way around.
Time & date: 18:00-21:00 on the third Saturday in October (as the day always changes it’s best to check on the official website: www.hakata-toumyou.com. The website is in Japanese, however the date is clearly visible on the homepage)
Location: Hakata, Fukuoka
Source: Fukuoka City