Hakata Gion Yamakasa originates from 1281 when a local priest, to ward off an epidemic, was carried through the town streets, spreading holy water along the way. Now, one-ton floats called kakiyamakasa are raced down a 5 km course by teams of men known as nagare. The race begins at 4:59 am on July 15, but you can see practices (such as this) during the day from July 1 to July 14. “Oissa! Oissa!” is the chant you’ll hear as water is thrown at the men heaving the floats toward the finish at Kushida Shrine.
博多祇園山笠—Hakata Gion Yamakasa—Hakata Gion Yamakasa
舁き山笠—kakiyamakasa—portable shrines (floats)
Find out more about Kushida Shrine.