[2023 Edition] Making the Best of Fukuoka's Summer—Fireworks and Summer Festivals
Japanese summer is synonymous with fireworks! The exciting sight of colorful explosions lighting up the night sky with a bang is something one does not soon forget. As the dates of traditional Japanese festivals approach, it’s hard not to get excited, so make the best of summer this year by attending a fireworks display or a summer festival in Fukuoka Prefecture.
Ashiya Fireworks Festival (Ashiya Town)
This fireworks festival began during the Taisho Period (1912 – 1926). During the festivities, giant balls of fire explode over the mouth of the Onga River, creating a spectacular 250-meter-wide “Niagara Falls” in the sky that is not to be missed.
Date: July 22, 2023 (Saturday)
Kukinoumi Fireworks Festival (Kitakyushu City)
Kukinoumi Fireworks Festival is one of Kitakyushu City's most famous summer attractions. The fireworks are launched from barges in the middle of the Dokai Bay, creating stunning views as the spectacular display in the sky reflects gorgeously on the water below. The festival is also known for its musical fireworks that are launched one after another in tune with music. The finale consists of a 260-meter-wide "Niagara Falls" display.
Date: July 29, 2023 (Saturday)
Iizuka Noryo Fireworks (Iizuka City)
This fireworks festival dates back to the Taisho Period. It’s known for its array of spectacular fireworks, including rockets and cascading “Niagara Falls” pyrotechnics that light up the sky above the banks of the Onga River in Iizuka. Numerous food stalls are set up near the site so that visitors can enjoy delicious festival food together with the breathtaking fireworks.
Date: August 1, 2023 (Tuesday)
Kanmon Straits Fireworks Festival (Kitakyushu City)
The Kanmon Straits Fireworks Festival began in 1988 as a joint event with the Shimonoseki Fireworks Festival, with the idea that "our hometown, Kanmon, is doing well. The beautiful night scenery of the Kanmon Straits is the setting for the spectacular fireworks displays that are launched from both banks of the straits to color the summer night sky. This year, 15,000 fireworks, one of the largest in western Japan, are scheduled to be launched.
Date:August 13, 2023 (Sunday)
Chikugo River Fireworks Display (Kurume City)
The Chikugo River Fireworks Display, which is held on the banks of Kurume City’s famous river, started more than 350 years ago in 1650 as an offering to Suitengu Shrine. A variety of large and small fireworks are set off simultaneously in Kyomachi and Sasayama, brilliantly lighting up the night sky and the river below them. It is one of the most popular fireworks displays in Kyushu.
Date: August 27, 2023 (Sunday)
Hakata Bay Artistic Fireworks Festival 2023 (Fukuoka City)
After a five-year absence, "Hakata Bay Art Fireworks 2023" will be held in Atagohama, relocating the Great Sky Art to Uminonakamichi, where it drew more than 10,000 people in 2018. The advanced techniques of Japan's top pyrotechnicians have taken the traditional fireworks display to the realm of art. The scale of the "music and fireworks" entertainment that unfolds nonstop for about an hour is sure to overwhelm you!
All seats are chargeable. Chair seats, sandy beach seats, front-row chair seats sponsored by individuals, special wheelchair seats for wheelchair users, and photographer tickets that allow you to take pictures freely in the photographer's area are available for purchase.
Date: September 16, 2023 (Saturday)
Sasaguri Noryo Fireworks Festival (Sasaguri Town)
Sasaguri Town’s Noryo fireworks display is held on the same day as the Sasaguri Gion Matsuri festivities. During both, mikoshi (portable shrines) carried by children, Gion Yamakasa floats, and junior high school brass band parades liven up this Fukuoka town while various stalls provide food and entertainment for the whole family.
Date: July 8, 2023 (Saturday) *Further details TBA
Amagigawa Fireworks Festival (Amagi City)
4,000 pyrotechnics of varying sizes and exhibition fireworks brilliantly light up the night skies and the surface of the river below them during this celebration. The Amagigawa Fireworks Festival also includes a traditional event that has been handed down over generations where people float lanterns down the river to commemorate ancestors lost to war and to pray for peace and the safety of their families.
Date: August 26, 2023 (Saturday)
Summer Festivals and Shinto Rituals
Kokura Gion Daiko (Kitakyushu City)
Kokura Gion Daiko, which has a history of more than 400 years, was the first taiko drum event to be designated as an intangible folk cultural asset of Japan. During the festival, unusual double-sided drums are attached to the front and back of floats and beaten by drummers while the platforms make their way through the city. The drums, jangara gongs, and the calls of the children pulling the floats come together to create the sounds of Kokura summer. The festival's main event is the contest held in front of the Otemon-mae plaza. On the final day of the festival, a stunning procession of 80 floats adorned with lanterns parade through the streets, creating a spectacular sight. There are also participatory events such as "omotenashi taiko" when visitors can try their hands at drumming.
Date: July 14 (Friday) – July 16 (Sunday), 2023
The 61st Omuta Daijayama Festival (Omuta City)
This thrilling festival involves 10-meter-long floats featuring powerful “daija” (giant snake) decorations parading through the streets of Omuta. The daija breathe fire while taiko drums and bells get the crowds excited. There is a tradition of letting the daija "bite" children to pray for their health and safety. Other highlights of the festival include a group dance involving 10,000 people. Local citizens form lines that reach 2 kilometers in length and dance the night away to the tune of traditional Japanese songs such as “Tanko Bushi" and “Daija Yamabayashi.”
Date: July 22 (Saturday) – July 23 (Sunday), 2023
*Minato Matsuri: July 16 (Sunday) – July 17 (Monday/national holiday), 2023
Yamagasa: A Tradition Handed Down Through the Generations
70th Tobata Gion Oyamagasa FestivalView more
Tobata Gion Oyamagasa is one of Fukuoka Prefecture's three great summer festivals. It has a history of over 200 years and is designated as an important intangible cultural property by the Japanese government. Its most distinguishing feature are the giant Yamagasa floats that transform from the daytime “Nobori Oyamagasa” banner platforms into pyramid-shaped “Chochin Yamagasa” platforms adorned with lanterns that shine mystically throughout the Tobata nightscapes.
Date: July 22, 2023 (Saturday)
Tsuyazaki Gion Yamakasa Festival (Fukutsu City)
The Tsuyazaki Gion Yamakasa Festival is distinguished by the “kakiyama” floats decorated with traditional Tsuyazaki dolls. Its highlight is the Oiyama race, an exciting competition between men in traditional loincloths chanting and racing from Namiori Shrine to the Tsuyazaki police box. On the day before the festival, a “hadakamairi” celebration is held when half-naked participants pray for safety during the race.
Date: July 15 (Saturday) – Shudan Yamamise, Hadakamairi
July 16 (Sunday), 9:00 am – Oiyama
2023 Nogata Summer Festival (Nogata City)View more
A feature of summer in Nogata City, this festival organized by the local Junior Chamber International Japan features a dazzling fireworks display and an Oiyama race between Nogata Yamagasa floats during the big finale. The sight of four giant lit-up platforms racing wildly along the road in front of Nogata City Hall is a sight to behold. The breakneck speeds and the “kaburi” vertical shakings of the floats are distinctive features of the festival and should not be missed. The fireworks display can be enjoyed on the spacious riverbank lawn.
Date: July 30, 2023 (Sunday)
*To be postponed until August 2 or August 8 in case of inclement weather
Summer Festivals to Enjoy with Children
Summer 2023 Mojiko Night Bubble (Kitakyushu City)
During this event, the area around Mojiko Station is turned into a magical nightscape by soap bubble artists and their ephemeral floating spheres that reflect all the colors of the rainbow and dance through the air as if to the tune of music. It’s an exhilarating event for people of all ages.
Date: July 22, 2023 (Saturday) (scheduled)
Summer Festivals to Pray for Health and Safety
Tenjin Summer Festival
Held on the birthday of Sugawara no Michizane (June 25 in the lunar calendar), who is revered in Shinto as the god of learning, the Tenjin Summer Festival is a purification ceremony to pray for the healthy growth of children. The festivities feature a special play area with activities for children such as fishing for water-balloon yoyos or chinowa-kuguri (passing through a hoop made of sanctified grass to pray for health and safety.)
Date: July 24 (Monday) – July 25 (Tuesday), 2023
34th Hakozaki Shrine Nagoshi Summer Festival
This is a “nagoshi” purification festival held to pray for health during a hot summer. During it, people can pass through a cleansing “chinowa” grass hoop while in the main shrine building priests hold a “sendobarai” Shinto rite during which purifying incantations are repeated one thousand times.
Dates: July 29 (Saturday) – July 30 (Sunday), 2023
Miyajidake Shrine Onagoshi Festival (Chinowa-kuguri Ritual)
This is a Shinto ritual to pray for health during a hot summer. It begins at 1:00 am when participants are led by priests through a huge “chinowa” grass hoop set up at the entrance to the shrine, all while chanting "mubyo sokusai, akueki taisan" (no illness, no disease, sound health).
Date: August 1 (Tuesday), 2023
Summers in Japan are full of fun events like firework displays and summer festivals. Choose one that most excites you and step into a world of magic and wonder!
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