This is another annual event that I haven't failed to participate when I was in Fukuoka. Hakata Dontaku is a festival developed by merchant of Hakata from a traditional celebration of Hakata Matsubayashi. Today it is one of the largest festivals in Japan, mobilizing about 2 million visitors from all parts of the country,held in the long holidays period of "the golden week", particularly on 3~4th May.
One of the unique characteristics of this festival is that it also includes the participation of foreigners living in Fukuoka. So there I was, joining the parade under the proud Malaysia flag. Most foreigners participating in the parade are students of Kyushu University and Japanese volunteers of each country (ie Malaysia Shimin no Kai) so generally we know each other.
Before the parade starts, we gathered at the nearby foreign student hall. We were given a few things to wear like "happi"(err..what do you call it..outer clothes?) and decorations to bring during the parade. Everybody was in celebration mood, so it was fun.
During the 2006 dontaku, we met a high school student volunteer who had been to Malaysia for homestay. Shocked to learn that he is a fan of AF and Mawi! (He is the one in yellow "happi" in the 1st pic above). Although it only took us about 10 minutes to walk the parade, we do get excited especially when people waved at us and called out Malaysia...Malaysia!".
★Watch some of other Hakata Dontaku scenes here.
At the end of the route, there are stalls selling food and souvenirs. But the heat of excitement made us crave for water more...