Hakata Dontaku Festival

Hakata Dontaku: japan‘s Largest Festival


Hakata Dontaku is Japan’s largest festival, held annually in Fukuoka during a major holiday weekend in May. It attracts an impressive number of participants and spectators, with 30,000 people taking part in the festival and over two million people coming to witness the festivities. This grand celebration has a rich history that dates back over 800 years, making it a significant cultural event in Japan.

Origin and History

The origins of Hakata Dontaku can be traced back to 1179 during the Heian period. The festival, then known as Matsubayashi, was initially held to celebrate the Chinese New Year and honor the area’s feudal lord. In the Edo period, the festival evolved into a parade known as Torimon, led by people dressed as gods. However, during the Meiji era, the government banned the parade due to its extravagance. The citizens of Hakata, determined to preserve the festival, changed its name to Dontaku, derived from the Dutch word for Sunday, “Zontag.” This change allowed them to continue the tradition while avoiding government restrictions.

The Festival Experience

Hakata Dontaku is a two-day festival that takes place during the busy holiday period of Golden Week. On May 3, the Matsubayashi Parade is held early in the morning, reenacting the original parade from 1179. The parade is led by three gods of fortune riding on horseback and a group of dancing children. The Dontaku parades take place in the afternoon on both May 3 and 4, lasting all afternoon and featuring dancers, marching bands, and the iconic hana jidosha, or flower buses. In total, there are around 750 groups of performers, including local and international participants. The festival also includes around 30 stage areas across the city, hosting various performances, food stalls, drink stalls, and game stalls. One of the highlights of the festival is the Hakata Niwaka, where comedians wearing masks entertain the crowd. The festival culminates with the Dontaku dance, where spectators are invited to join in and dance the night away.

How to Get There

Hakata Dontaku takes place close to Tenjin Station, which is accessible via the subway from Hakata Station. Dontaku events are held across Fukuoka City, but the main parade runs from Gofuku-machi Station to Tenjin Central Park. A smaller parade also takes place outside Hakata Station, and there have been recent events in the Hakata Port area. The festival is easily accessible for both locals and tourists, ensuring that everyone can experience the vibrant energy and cultural heritage of Hakata Dontaku.

Don’t Miss

To fully immerse yourself in the festival, don’t miss the opportunity to jump in and dance along with the participants. Hakata Dontaku encourages active participation, allowing you to become a part of the vibrant celebration. Another highlight of the festival is the decorated floats called hana jidosha, meaning flower buses. Originally decorated with fresh flowers, these floats have evolved to include electronic displays, creating a mesmerizing sight as they cruise through the streets of Fukuoka, brilliantly lit up at night.

The Festival’s Significance

Hakata Dontaku holds great cultural significance in Japan, as it showcases the country’s rich history and traditions. The festival’s longevity of over 800 years is a testament to its importance and enduring popularity. It is a celebration of community spirit, bringing together people from all walks of life to participate and spectate. The festival also serves as a platform for cultural exchange, as international groups have been invited to take part in recent years. This inclusivity further enhances the festival’s charm and promotes a sense of global unity.


Hakata Dontaku is a grand celebration that captures the essence of Japanese culture and tradition. With its rich history, vibrant parades, and active participation, the festival offers a unique and unforgettable experience. Whether you are a local or a tourist, Hakata Dontaku provides a glimpse into Japan’s cultural heritage and the spirit of its people. As Japan’s largest festival, it continues to attract millions of spectators and participants each year, cementing its status as a must-see event. So, mark your calendars and join in the festivities of Hakata Dontaku for an experience that will leave a lasting impression.

Address And Maps Location:

Hakata-ku, Fukuoka-shi, Fukuoka-ken

Find Location And Direction On Google Maps

Subscribe, follow travelbloggerindonesia.com