The Hakozaki shrine has 3 major festivals each year, and no less than a dozen smaller ones. Last month we attended one of the smaller ones, the Nagoshi-sai (summer passage rite).
The festival site, the Hakozaki shrine, is known as one of the three major Hachiman shrines in Japan. It is said to have been founded during the Heian period in the 10th century. The guardian deity is the spirit of the Emperor Ojin, who was born in what is now Umi-machi in Fukuoka Prefecture. His placenta was placed in a box and kept here, and a pine tree was planted on the site as a symbol of it…
The most visually striking part of the shrine is the splendid Sakura gate in front of the main hall. It covers only 12 tsubo of ground area at the base, but the roof extends over a magnificent 83 tsubo. The tower gate has bright gold-frame calligraphy with the inscription, “The surrender of the enemy nation”. At the end of the fierce battles that occurred during the Mongol invasion of the 13th century, the enemy fleet was destroyed by a storm that came to be known as the divine wind, or kamikaze. The calligraphy is said to have been dedicated by the Emperor Daijo Kameyama for the reconstruction of the shrine, which was burned down during the invasion. Since then, many military commanders have visited the site to receive good luck on the battlefield.
Earlier I wrote about the food at the Nishinihon Ohori festival, and this was a similar experience: plenty of beer and soda, and slightly-expensive-but-not-outrageously-priced grilled, yummy food, mostly on sticks, so they’re easy to eat while walking. We went with my Japanese tutor and her boyfriend, and some of their friends, so we had a group to hang out with.
There were two long lines of people at the shrine. One line to enter the shrine, for blessings from the monks, and another line to walk through a round gate made of some type of grass, for good luck. There was a sign with instructions on how to go through it properly: you actually go through it 3 times, looping once to the left, then to the right, and then back to the left again.
The evening ended with a taiko drumming performance put on by a children’s group. They were pretty good!
In a couple weeks it will be the site of the Hojoya festival, which is not only a major festival for the shrine, but it considered one of the top 3 annual festivals for all of Fukuoka. So we will back!