Festivals & Events
Karatsu in Saga Prefecture has been holding an autumn festival to celebrate bountiful harvests for over 400 years. The Karatsu Kunchi Festival is a massive three-day parade at the beginning of November featuring huge floats known as hikiyama being pulled through town and eventually from Karatsu Shrine to Nishino Beach.
The floats include a killer whale and the legendary Urashima Taro—a fisherman who was Japan's version of Rip Van Winkle.
The event takes place at the same time as the Saga International Balloon Fiesta
The hikiyama floats are on display throughout the year behind Karatsu Shrine
The best way to get to Karatsu is by train.
From Saga Station, take the JR Karatsu Line to Karatsu Station, which takes just over an hour. From Hakata Station, there are various express lines that will get you to Karatsu Station in around 80 minutes.
The festival takes place throughout the city.
The floats are impressive designs ranging from samurai helmets to mythical sea creatures and dragons. There are 14 in total, and both the floats and parade have been designated as an Intangible Folk Cultural Property of Japan. With the crowd is estimated to be around 500,000 during the event, be sure to make hotel reservations early if you plan to be in the city area.