FUKUOKA -- A display of splendid floats from the famed "Hakata Gion Yamakasa" festival will be held for the first time in two years after last year's event was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, including one depicting an ancient warlord.
While the festival's parade was called off for the second consecutive year, floats representing each local community are scheduled to be displayed at 12 places in Fukuoka's Hakata district from July 1 through the predawn hours of July 15.
At the studio of doll artist Masahiro Okiayu, 90, his apprentices can be seen eagerly trying to complete the creation of five dolls that will be placed on the 17th Yamakasa float "Solaria," which will be displayed at the commercial complex Solaria Plaza in the city's central Tenjin neighborhood.
The theme of Solaria float is "Brave samurai Saizo drives away epidemics," featuring warlord Kani Saizo, who worked actively from the late 15th to the beginning of the 16th century, during the Sengoku, or Warring States, period of Japan. Legend states that Saizo beat back evil spirits with just a swing of his sword. Okiayu commented, "I created the doll with the hope that it could drive away the coronavirus."
(Japanese original by Yoshiyuki Hirakawa, Kyushu Photo Department)