The Mitama lanterns festival is a festival held each year at Gokoku sanctuary (護国神社) which is close to Ohori Park. This festival is celebrated during Obon (お盆, the festival to celebrate dead people) in many sanctuaries of the country including the controversial Yasukuni Shrine .
You may know I am happy as hellwhen there is a lantern festival and / or when I can wear traditional Japanese clothes. So I wanted to go to the festival so bad ! Fortunately Daisuke finished his job earlier than usual and was able to meet me at the very end of the afternoon at Hakata station. We decided to wear our jinbei (甚平), this super comfortable clothes that consists of a kimono top and shorts (or skirt for girls).
As I went to Hakata by foot (which takes about 30 minutes), needless to say I was quite uncomfortable to be looked at. It must be said that the festival is not well known and that there was no other one in the area that day so in people's heads there was no reason to wear a jinbei = I was stared.
Well, once with Daisuke, everything went much better. We arrived at around 7pm and as it was still not dark enough, we couldn't be aware of the magic of the place. So we headed to the shrine's main building where a LOT of people were waiting for their turn to pray their dead. We did not want to wait so instead Daisuke took a prediction (fee required) which proved good fortune.
I'm not so much fond of predictions. I do it once a year, for New year. Otherwise I do not see the point because it says something different every time ... I can make an exception when they are as beautiful as the ones I found in Nagasaki.
We also studied the possibility of buying a lantern. At the festival, people can buy their own one, make their name written on it and add it into one of the lights wall. However, it was quite pricey (2000 to 10 000 yen) so we abstained ... especially since it is the sanctuary staff that write the names and we couldn't draw on the smallest ones.
A quick photo shoot later (which turned out very bad because Daisuke can't take good photos yet xD), it was finally dark enough to enjoy lanterns.
These thousands of small yellow and white lights, decorated with drawings or simply with names / trademarks shining lanterns were simply magical. Moreover, apart from the sanctuary, there was not a lot of people. The esplanade is really huge and, as I said earlier this article, the festival is not so well known / popular. We would not be aware of it if we didn't passed in the front of it two weeks ago.
So we could enjoy the lanterns closer undisturbed.
There were all sorts of varieties of designs and it was fun to see what people chose their drawings and how they made them.
We left around 8pm, just after taking a little break, sharing a tasty melon pan.
It was a good evening , unpretentious, and a good reason to wear again our traditional summer clothes. Can't wait for the next time !
GOKOKU SHRINE (護国神社)
Access from Hakata station :
Go to the bus terminal and take the bus n°13. Get off at the "NHK Hoso Center Iriguchi"stop (福岡城・ＮＨＫ放送センター入口). 27minutes, 230 yens.
Mitama Festival :
Every August 13th-16th, from 6:20pm.