Saturday, October 18, 2014

Hakata Gion Yamakasa

Amongst the neutral colors of the Kushida Shinto Shrine in Fukuoka, this colorful structure caught my attention.
Standing around 10 meters, the Hakata Gion is one of twelve Yamakasa scattered throughout the city. They are an integral part of a festival said to have originated in the 13th century in attempts to secure protection against the plague. Each July, seven portable (but tall) Yamakasa are carried five kilometers through the city to the Kushida Shrine. With the exception of the ones presently displayed at Kushida, both the portable and non-portable ones are destroyed after the festival. 

The brightly painted figures and ornaments are created by traditional Hakata puppet makers. Inspiration comes from history and myths.

The image above, with its  strong female figure, tiger, and grimacing male figure reminded me of the  Kali Puja displays I saw in Kolkata, India. No string of heads here, but plenty of flamboyant emotion. 
Kali Puja display (detail)


Bibi said...

I recognized Kali. :)

Melissa Enderle said...

She's quite the lovely lady ;)