Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Kushida Shrine in Fukuoka, Japan

Kushida shrine lies at the heart of old Hakata, the centre of the old city and is from here that the competitors in Fukuoka's most famous festival, the Yamagasa depart on their long early morning run.
Founded in 757, Kushida shrine is not only spectacular but contains a variety of items of interest. Note in particular the Eto Arrow plate with its carvings of the Chinese zodiac and the brace of anchor stones recovered from the harbour that belonged to the Mongolian invasion fleets. Note also the Yamakasa portable shrine.
There is a ginko tree in the forecourt that a 1918 monument claims is 1000 years old. The grand deity, Ohata Nushina-mikoto, is enshrined here.
But it is in mid-July that the shrine is best enjoyed - it hosts the "Oiyama" event of the Yamakasa-gion festival. Hundreds of near naked men clad only in tight loincloths and tighter buttocks vie to carry heavy wooden shrines through the streets over a set route in the fastest times. The main event commences at 4:59am.

[All photos taken March 11, 2007]
[If you're traveling to Fukuoka and need to find a good hotel, check out Fukuoka Hotels for a large variety of options.]

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