Vegetarian's Japan Guide

Kushida Shrine and the Interesting Festivals that It Holds

Apart from Sumiyoshi Shrine, another fascinating shrine not far away from Hakata Station is the Kushida Shrine (櫛田神社). It is where one of the biggest events in Hakata’s summer, the Hakata Gion Yamakasa Festival, is held. The best thing is that the Kazari Yamakasa (the large stationary festival float) is permanently stationed in the precinct. So no matter when you visit Kushida Shrine, you can appreciate the splendid float that can’t be seen elsewhere in the world!

The Erection of Kushida Shrine

It was determined that the Kushida Shrine in Hakata originated from the Kushida Shrine in Matsusaka City (松阪市) in Mie Prefecture (三重県) in 757. When Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the then-leader of Japan, revived Hakata, the shrine’s buildings were reconstructed in 1587.

© 福岡市

The Reisenkaku Well (霊泉鶴の井戸)

Passing the tower gate, there is a well surrounded by three cranes in front of the worship hall. Because the water from the well is the underground water from the worship hall, the pilgrims believe drinking the water will prolong their life.

On the information board, it says when you drink the water, make the below prayers in your mind.

  • First mouthful: Pray for your longevity and eternal youth for yourself
  • Second mouthful: Pray for the same thing for your immediate family members
  • Third mouthful: Pray for those who have joined your life journey

Whether to drink it or not is totally up to you. But be warned, the water most likely won’t taste nice.

Hakata Gion Kazari Yamakasa Festival Float (博多祇園山笠)

While not many people would want to leave an air-conditioned room in the hot summer, what lures the citizens of Hakata out each July is the Hakata Gion Kazari Yamakasa Festival. This is why Kushita Shrine is equaled to Yamakasa Festival to many locals.

On the 15th of July, when the festival reaches its climax, Hakata is divided into eight areas. In each area, different festival floats are dragged by men to tour around the neighborhood. Furthermore, from the 1st to the 7th of July, a couple of Kazari Yamakasa are placed around the city. Each is decorated with images of samurai warriors related to Hakata, scenes from Japanese folktales, and even anime! As the theme changes each year, it is a festival you won’t be bored of by attending multiple times.

But if you are like us, who can’t go to Japan in July, seeing the Kazari Yamakasa is probably the main reason you visit Kushida Shrine. It is the only Kazari Yamakasa that won’t be disassembled after the festival concludes.

Note that the Kazari Yamakasa probably can’t be seen in June due to the preparation for the festival in July (i.e. they need time to re-decorate the Kazari Yamakasa).

The festival is now registered as an Intangible World Cultural Heritage.

☛ Visit Hakata Machiya Furusato-kan (博多町家ふるさと館) close by for a short film that condenses the best parts of the festival. A festival scene is also demonstrated by hundreds of small figures, which you might even be able to see the craftsmen making!
☛ If you are interested in Kushida Shrine’s treasures and Hakta’s historical items, visit Hakata Historisch Museum (博多歴史館) next to Kushida Shrine between 10 am to 5 pm from Tuesday to Sunday. The admission fee is 300 yen.

The Giant Otafuku Mask (お多福面)

Another big event at Kushida Shrine is the Setsubun-sai Festival (節分祭) in February. From late January to the 11th of February, on top of throwing beans, a massive Otafuku Mask covers the shrine’s entrance at the tower gate. To enter the shrine, you have to go through the opened mouth of the plump-faced woman!

© 福岡市

But don’t worry. You can safely get to the other side of the gate without being “eaten”. In fact, by going through her mouth, you will be blessed with many benefits, such as success in your business/career and the increased well-being of your family.

If you have time, check out the other Otafuku Mask at the south gate of the Kushida Shrine as well. It will show you a different face of the mask.

Etoehō Ban (干支恵方盤)

A special thing you can check out throughout the year at the tower gate is the Etoehō Ban. Remember to look at the ceiling when you walk through the gate. There is a zodiac disc with the 12 zodiac animals, and four cardinal directions hung.

The needle in the middle indicates this year’s lucky direction. How about making a wish for a year of prosperity without suffering for yourself in the direction specified on the disc?

  • 東 = East
  • 南 = South
  • 西 = West
  • 北 = North

Chikara-ishi Stone (力石)

Are you a regular at your local gym to build up your muscle? If the answer is yes, test the result with the Chikara-ishi, which refers to the large stones placed south of the Kushida Shrine’s worship hall.

In the Edo period (1603 – 1867), the sumo wrestlers in Hakata would show off their strength by lifting a large stone and carrying it to Kushida Shrine to offer to the god. This has since become a tradition for the sumo wrestlers in Hakata. If you are a fan of sumo wrestling, you will find one of the stones offered by famous wrestlers such as Hakuhō Shō (白鵬翔) and Asashōryū Akinori (朝青龍 明徳)!


The stones are signed by the wrestlers. So before heading to Kushida Shrine, make sure you remember what their names look like in Japanese (^_-)-☆.

Just note that the only stone you can lift up is the one on the ground with “試石”. Although not too sure how much this trial stone weighs, it is surely heavy.

The Ginkgo at Kushida Shrine

Lastly, there is a ginkgo tree on the ground of the Kushida Shrine. The tree is referred to as the Ginkgo of Kushida (櫛田の銀杏). Because it has lived for more than 1,000 years, pilgrims pray to it for longevity.

Next to the Chikara-ishi stones, there is another ginkgo tree. This one is called Meoto Ginkgo (夫婦銀杏). The tree that bears many fruits every year has become a popular spot to pray for a happy relationship or find the right life partner.

Other Things about Kushida Shrine

© 福岡市
  • On the big plaque hung above Kushida Shrine’s tower gate, the word “Itsu (稜威)” is written in gold. It means the majesty of the emperor.
  • The fortune slips are written not only in Japanese but in English, Korean, and Chinese.
  • Remember to check out the wooden curving attached under the roof of the worship hall. The god of the winds is chased by the god of thunder.

How to Get to Kushida Shrine

  • Kushida Shrine is open from 4 am to 10 pm.
  • If you are taking a bus, get off at Canal City Hakata-mae (キャナルシティ博多前).
  • From Hakata Station (博多駅), it is around a 15-minute walk.
  • From Fukuoka Subway’s Gion Station’s (祇園駅) exit no. 2 or Nakasu-kawabata Station (中洲川端駅), it is around a 5-minute walk.

Karo no Uron (かろのうろん)

If it is just about noon when you get to the Gion area in Hakata, how about a bowl of udon noodles for your lunch? While Hakata is most well-known for ramen noodles, it is also the birthplace of udon noodles!

The history of Hakata Udon started in the mid-Kamakura period (1192 – 1333). The head monk of the Rinzai sect at the time, Shōichi Kokushi (聖一国師), traveled to China to study. After he returned to Japan, he founded the Jōten-ji Temple (承天寺) in Hakata. Together with the Buddism knowledge that he brought back with him, he also taught the locals how to make the udon noodles that he had tasted in China.

Contrasting the chewy Sanuki udon (讃岐うどん) from Kagawa Prefecture, Hakata udon is softer and can be better digested.

Founded in 1882, Karo no Uron is the oldest udon restaurant in Hakata. The restaurant was named in the sense of the udon restaurant on the corner. But somehow, the “D” sound was changed to an “R/L” sound. Even on the menu, instead of udon, it reads uron…

The interior of the shop is decorated with Hakata’s handicrafts. Photos of when the shop first opened can also be seen on the wall.

If you don’t mind the non-vegetarian broth, we highly recommend enjoying a bowl of burdock udon at Karo no Uron. The deep-fried battered burdock goes really well with the noodles!

English menu is available for you to match the dishes to the dish’s image on the vending machine, where you purchase an exchange ticket for the menu items you want to eat.

Karo no Uron’s Business Hours and Access Information

  • Karo no Uron is open from 11 am to 6 pm from Wednesday to Monday.
  • From Hakata Station (博多駅), it is around a 12-minute walk.
  • From Fukuoka Subway’s Gion Station’s (祇園駅) exit no. 2 or Nakasu-kawabata Station (中洲川端駅), it is around a 5-minute walk.

Important: Please keep in mind that some customers have reported that the restaurant’s atmosphere (and maybe the service) isn’t as good as before since the restaurant was passed down to the next generation. They are very particular about the rule of no photography inside the restaurant and might be keeping a close eye on you.

Explore Hakata With a Guided Tour or Hire a Photographer

If you prefer a guide to introduce you to the charms of Hakata, how about joining one of the below tours? You can also hire a photographer for a private photoshoot session!

Tip: Refer to HERE if you want to rent a Kimono when you are in Hakata!

Discover More Attractions Around Hakata Station

Click the photo to find out more about attractions around Hakata Station!

Want to find out more interesting attractions that you might be interested in or delicious restaurants to treat yourself to around Hakata Station?

Refer to our article on Hakata, where we have attractions such as a rooftop shrine or a gorgeous Japanese garden for a brief break!

Discover Other Attractions in the Wider Fukuoka City

If you have more time to spend in Fukuoka, the city has a couple more awesome destinations that might interest you, including islands with vast, stunning flower fields.

For more information, please refer to our article on Fukuoka City!

Click the photo for more attractions to visit in Fukuoka!

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