Karatsu Kunchi Autumn Festival Reaches Peak

Karatsu Kunchi autumn festival reaches peak

A traditional autumn festival featuring colorful floats is underway in Karatsu City, southwestern Japan.

The annual Karatsu Kunchi festival, which dates back 400 years, is on UNESCO's Intangible Cultural Heritage list.

14 decorated floats, including those modeled after the traditional "shishi" lions, samurai "kabuto" helmets and a "ho-o" phoenix, paraded through the streets, pulled by teams of men.

On Sunday, the second day of the 3-day festival, the bearers pulled the floats through a sandy area which is made to resemble a beach.

Spectators applauded loudly as bearers chanting "Enya, Enya," moved the floats weighing as much as 3 tons to lively musical accompaniment played on traditional Japanese flutes, bells and drums.

Rice cakes were thrown to spectators to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Red Lion float from the Katanamachi district, which has the longest history and leads the procession.

A woman from Hiroshima City said the whole community, including young people, are involved in the festival. She said it is courageous and powerful.

The festival will continue until Monday evening.