Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Hakata, Fukuoka

Of Interest: temples, Kushida shrine, Canal City Hakata
Lodging: multiple
Tourist Office: yes

Hakata Station is the main JR station for the city of Fukuoka. It is also a stop on the subway, but Nishitetsu trains do not stop here.

The tourist office has extensive materials in English both on the city and Fukuoka prefecture. From the station, you can walk to the oldest Shingon temple in Japan, Tochoji. Jotenji is nearby. It was built in 1242 and may have been the orginal home of the Hakata Gion Yamakasa Festival. This festival is currently hosted by Kushida Shrine which is a little further away, maybe a twenty to thirty minute walk. Nearby is Canal City Hakata, the biggest mall in Fukuoka.

The Hakata Gion Yamakasa festival lasts for two weeks in July. Local businesses and associations build and display floats. At the end of the festival, each group carries its float in an early morning race. Each float has a different character which reflects the group of people who built it.

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