Autumn is the best time to visit Fukuoka : great food, nice colors, it's not too hot nor to cold and there are a lot of events.
The biggest event of autumn is call AkiHaku. Everyday during October to November, there are festival, events, stamps rally and so on every day.
Fukuoka become mush more lively than it's already it.
This year I went for the first time to the Hakata Light Up Walk festival.
|Hakata Light Up Walk 2016|
Hakata Light Up Walk is the last big festival of Akihaku event. During 5 evenings of the end of November (this year it was from the 23rd to the 27th), different temples and shrines in Hakata ward light up and open their doors to visitors. This is the highlight of autumn and a large number of visitors throng into the Hakata neighborhood.
I knew about the festival, of course, but I thought it would be too crowded to really enjoy it so I didn't go yet. Because my mom was in Fukuoka from the end of November and because I wanted to show her a different Fukuoka, we decided to go together. I bought our tickets at the combini and went on a Thursday night after work, to avoid the hustle and bustle of the weekend.
This year 11 places were illuminated and the closest to my work was the Kushida shrine. We voluntarily skipped it because I already had the chance to go at night and because we thought it would be more interesting to go to places that are usually closed to the public and / or less accessible.
When we buy tickets at the combini, you are given a coupon to exchange for the actual tickets at the entrance of some temples. They are presented in a 11 tickets book. Each one is valid only once during any day of the festival: you can visit one part one day and the rest the next day for example.
The most convenient exchange point for us was the Tocho-ji temple. As it was one of the 2 places I didn't want to miss, we decided to start there. We were also given a book with a map and information about the various places of the festival.
Although we were on weekdays there were a lot of people (especially elderly) and we had to wait to enter some small temples. Among the 11 places, we visited 7 before beginning to feel cold and hungry.
We both enjoyed our walk. All the temples weren't on the same level for the illuminations, some being less "wow" than others but overall all were interesting to see and it's always nice to be able to enter places that are usually inaccessible.
My favorites were the Tocho-ji, the Joten-ji, the Engaku-ji and the Zendo-ji temples. I regretted to did't be able to go to the remaining 4 but we were really cold and it rained the days after. Next year maybe !
Surprisingly, there were many more visitors in the small hidden temples, while bigger ones such as Tocho-ji or Joten-ji were less crowded than I thought.
Organization-wise, it was ok. The way to each place was very well indicated, with policemen at each intersection. At the entrance to each temple, there were volunteers to check the tickets and inside, monks (?) informed visitors about the place history and Buddhism culture.
I just regretted that no information in alphabet / english was provided. Everything was only in Japanese, from the tickets to the provided map. Moreover the website of the event is also only in Japanese and we were almost the only foreign ones (we met two couples of Koreans but that's all) that day.
I think they should do something for this problem next year if they want to attract foreign tourists.
In conclusion, it's a festival where I would go again with pleasure even if I prefer the lanterns festivals.
Next year I would like to make the temples that I didn't go this time and if there are any new places it would be even better. I also want to see the great Buddha which was not ligth up this time, unfortunately.
|The sand looks like the sea|
|Hakata Gion Yamakasa illumination|
|and its lanterns|
Useful informationsOpening hours
Advance Ticket 1,000 yens
Ticket Price on the Event Day 1,300 yens
Admission fee does not apply to junior high school students and under (when accompanied by parents)
Where to buy
Fukuoka City Tourist Information (Tenjin / Hakata Station), Hakata Machiya Folk Museum, Hakata Traditional Craft Center, Oracle Office at Kushida Shrine , combini (Seven Eleven / Circle K Sunkus / Lawson / Mini Stop / Family Mart
Where to exchange tickets
Kushida Shrine, Tochoji Temple, Jotenji Temple, Hongakuji Temple
▶ Hakata Light Up Walk