Hakozakigu Shrine 筥崎宮
An iconic shrine in Fukuoka known for its flower displays and spectacular festivals
Hakozakigu Shrine is famous for its vast grounds as much as for the numerous festivals it hosts every year, the two most notable being January's Tamaseseri Festival and September's Hojoya Festival.
How to Get There
You can reach the shrine by train and then by foot.
The shrine is a short walk from Hakozakimiya-Mae subway station on the Hakozaki Line and Hakozaki Station on the Kagoshima Main Line. Both lines can be accessed from Hakata Station.
Hakozakigu Shrine was founded in 923 but burned down during the Mongol invasion of 1274. Following its reconstruction, a large calligraphic plaque, the Tekikoku Kokufuku, was fixed to the tower gate celebrating the defeat of the enemy.
The land against the sea
The shrine's main festivals attract hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. The Tamaseseri Festival, which takes place on January 3 every year, involves two teams of half-naked men fighting over an eight-kilogram wooden ball.
One team represents the land (farmers) and the other the sea (fishermen); the team that ends up winning is supposed to receive a bountiful harvest in the upcoming year. Water is splashed over the participants despite the icy temperatures, and if you are close to the battle, you are likely to end up soaked.
Drawing over a million spectators a year
Hojoya, which takes place every September, is the shrine's other main festival, drawing more than one million people during its eight days. The Hojoya Festival, which originated from the teachings of the god Hachiman, has been celebrated for over ten centuries.
Religious ceremonies performed daily
Religious ceremonies tied to the festival are performed daily, usually in the morning or early afternoon. In the evening, the boulevard leading to Hakozakigu is packed with people visiting the 500 or so stalls selling all the usual Japanese festival fare.