One of Japan’s oldest citizen-run events hits the city of Fukuoka this long-weekend, as the annual Dontaku Festival winds its way into town.

It was back in 1179 that the merchants of Hakata (now a central district of the city of Fukuoka) first organized the event, arranging for the three gods of fortune (Fukurokuju, the god of long life; Ebisu, the god of business; and Daikoku, the god of wealth) to parade through the town on horseback in honor of their feudal lord.

The parade is still held today, although it has now expanded to include so-called hana-jidosha — large floats decorated with artificial flowers that are rearranged each year. It also attracts 2 million people each year.

The festivities continue for two days — May 3 and 4 — and there is always a particularly strong international presence, with visitors attending from Fukuoka’s sister cities of Atlanta; Auckland, New Zealand; Bordeaux, France; and Busan, South Korea, in particular.

For more information, visit www.fukunet.or.jp/dontaku/

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