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November 14, 2011

Karatsu Kunchi


Two Wednesdays ago, Kam and I went to Karatsu (in Saga prefecture) after work to meet up with our friend Yoh, and her sister Kyo. They live in a nearby town called Imari, and invited us to Karatsu's biggest festival of the year- Karatsu Kunchi.




The festival, which has been running for several centuries, takes place over three days. On the middle day, the main attraction takes place, involving a parade of 14 huge floats through the streets of Karatsu. The float designs are incredible, and very old (the current versions were made in the 1800s) and the floats are pulled to the sounds of chants, flute & taiko music. It is a really amazing sight...


As always, we enjoyed some tasty festival food (below is yaki-ika, delicious squid)...


Because the parade of floats only happens on the middle night of the festival, the streets were absolutely full of people. After wandering around for awhile, we found a nice spot on the side of the road to watch the 14 floats go by...



We had fun giving English names to some of the floats- for example, the float below was dubbed 'Chicken Boat'...





The parade was really great, as was the festival's general atmosphere. It was really cool to see the enthusiasm of those pulling the floats and partaking in the parade- from little kids to strong men. The sense of tradition of the festival was really clear, and we felt really lucky to have been invited with Yoh & Kyo, who have been going to the festival since they were little.



Here is a short iPhone video I took of my favourite float passing by...



We spent the night at Yoh's house in nearby Imari and spent the next day exploring the area, so I have some more stories to share with you soon.
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