People dressed up in unique costumes
parade through the streets while clapping
shamoji spoons and dance on stages and in
squares in various quarters of the town. A
shamoji, which is a wooden utensil for
serving rice, evokes the image of a woman,
busy preparing a meal, dashing out to join
the parade passing in front of her house.
The parade of gorgeously decorated
vehicles called hana jidosha is also
entertaining. Of all the Japanese
festivals held during the so-called Golden
Week when there is a series of national
holidays from the end of April to early
May, the Hakata Dontaku boasts the
greatest number of spectators, with some
two million people turning out every year.
Visitors are also welcome, so don' t
hesitate to join in!
The name Dontaku is derived from the Dutch word Zondag meaning "Sunday" or "a holiday." It started in 1179 as a New Year performance known as matsubayashi. In the Edo Period, it evolved into a parade headed by people dressed up as auspicious gods when visits were paid to the Lord of Fukuoka Castle. This parade was called Torimon. Although the Meiji Government banned this parade because of its extravagance, the citizens preserved their traditions by changing the name of the parade to Dontaku. It was also suspended during World War II, but was revived soon after the war ended to bring back life to the town, and contributed to its rejuvenation. It is truly a citizens' festival. Today, it has changed its name to the Hakata Dontaku Port Festival (Hakata Dontaku Port Festival), with a number of events also held around Hakata Port.