Hakata celebrates a whole host of festivals, of which the biggest are the Gion Yamakasa (July 1–15) and the Hakata Dontaku, now held during Golden Week (May 3 & 4). In feudal times, Hakata townspeople were permitted across the river once a year to convey New Year greetings to their lord. Today’s festival centres on a parade along Meiji-dōri to the old castle. On a similarly traditional theme, the sumo circus comes to town each November for Japan’s last basho of the season, at Fukuoka’s Kokusai Centre (w www.sumo.or.jp). A much more recent invention is the Isla de Salsa (w www.tiempo.jp), a Latin music festival held mid-August on Nokonoshima island, a ten-minute ferry ride from Fukuoka.