The guardian temple of Fukuoka.
Located in the heart of Hakata near the Kawabata commercial district, the Kushida Shrine is often thought of by locals as the guardian temple of the city and boasts an impressive number of sights considering its relatively small size.
For those familiar with Fukuoka’s festival scene, the shrine is one of the Hakata Gion Yamakasa’s main venues and the starting point of the final day’s float race. On the 15th July at 4:59 a.m. hundreds of men gather in their tiny short shorts and get ready to run through the downtown streets of Fukuoka bearing one-ton towering floats on their backs.
It’s a sight to which the word unique actually applies – you’ll never see anything like it.
The bigger floats are on permanent display at the shrine through the rest of the year.
Spot the 1000-year old gingko tree in the forecourt which rises majestically in front of the main hall. There are also several stones believed to have been salvaged from the aftermath of the Mongol invasion back in the 13th century. Purify yourself at the fountain near the shrine’s entrance and give an offering before you pray for business prosperity and a long life.
The Kushida Shrine is not big but its juxtaposition with the Fukuoka cityscape is a perfect capture of how seamlessly tradition and modern urbanization are integrated in the city. It’s worth stopping here, if only for a breather from the bustle of the center. Entrance is free and the shrine is open from 4 a.m. until 10 p.m. every day of the year.