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LastUpDate: July 2, 2012
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Hakata Culture vol.65


The Nagare Community

The Nagare Community image

The history of one of Hakata’s best known festivals, the Hakata Gion Yamakasa held in July, dates back more than 700 years. It is a compelling sight to watch loincloth-clad men run at full speed through the city with the elaborately decorated floats on their shoulders, shouting Osshoi, Osshoi. This festival is conducted by organizations called nagare.

The nagare originated in the urban redistricting conducted by Toyotomi Hideyoshi in 1587 to promote the recovery of a Hakata devastated by civil strife. The city was reorganized into several blocs, and those units were called nagare. The seven nagare still conduct the Yamakasa today. They are Ebisu, Daikoku, Doi, Higashi, Nishi, Nakasu, and Chiyo.

The geographical organization of the nagare is based on the street layout, which is unusual for a Japanese community today. In the normal Japanese urban district, the people who see each other from across the street every day may be part of a different community. Organizing the communities by street enables people who regularly associate with each other to become involved in different activities together. The nagare unit is the basis for other events in addition to the Yamakasa.

The concept of a street-based urban district also makes it easier for first-time visitors and foreigners to navigate their way through the city. Streets are given names in Western countries, and those streets are the basis for giving directions. A trial is being conducted in which streets in the Tenjin district and near Hakata Station are being given names. Isn’t it wonderful that the wisdom inherent in the idea of nagare centuries ago is still applicable today?



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町を支える「流(ながれ)」のコミュニティ

 7月に行われる「博多祇園山笠」は、博多の代表的な祭りとして700年以上の歴史を誇ります。豪華絢爛な山笠を舁(か)いて、「おっしょい、おっしょい」という独特のかけ声とともに、締め込み姿の男たちが博多の町を疾走する様子は迫力満点です。ところで、この祭りは「流(ながれ)」という組織で運営されているのをご存知でしょうか。

「流」は、戦乱で荒廃した博多の町を復興させるため、豊臣秀吉が1587年に行った太閤町割に由来します。「太閤町割」は今でいう都市計画のようなもので、博多の町をいくつかのブロックに分けて再編成したのです。この時の単位が「流」と呼ばれるもので、山笠は現在もこの「流」に基づいて運営され、恵比須・大黒・土居・東・西・中洲・千代の7つの流があります。

「流」は通りを基本に構成される現在の日本では珍しいコミュニティです。日本で中心的な町名による区分では、毎日顔を合わせているお向かいさん同士が別々のコミュニティになってしまいます。通りごとにコミュニティを設定すれば、日常的に親しい人同士で活動することができます。実際に博多の町では山笠だけでなく、さまざまな行事が「流」の単位で行われています。

また、通りを中心にした考え方は、初めて町を訪れた人や外国人にも分かりやすいのが魅力です。欧米では道路に名前をつけ、道路を基準に道案内をするのが一般的。そこで天神や博多駅周辺でも、通りに名前をつけることで道を分かりやすくする試みが行われています。「流」という何百年も前の知恵が、現代にも通じる考え方だなんて素晴らしいですね。