Summer-Special Feature: Festivals

Hirosaki Neputa Festival – Aomori Prefecture

Hirosaki Neputa Festival – Aomori Prefecture

Dates and times Saturday, August 1 to Friday, August 7, 2015
Saturday, August 1 to Tuesday, August 4, 2015: Dotemachi route, starting about 7:00 p.m.
Wednesday, August 5 and Thursday, August 6, 2015: Station route, starting about 7:00 p.m.
Friday, August 7, 2015 (seventh day): Dotemachi seventh day route, starting about 10:00 a.m.
Locations Hirosaki City, Aomori Prefecture
In Hirosaki City
Fees The festivals are all free, but paid pavilion seating is also available
Links

Hirosaki Tourism and Convention Bureau

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Things to see at the festivals

Yaa ya do! A stately procession of ogi and kumi neputa to the resonant sounds of the flutes and drums

The Hirosaki Neputa Festival is designated as an important intangible folk culture asset of Japan. In the festival, about 80 floats, featuring images of glorious heroes and warriors from works of classical Chinese literature like The Romance of the Three Kingdoms and The Water Margin, march through the streets of this castle town shouting "Yaa ya do!"

In January 1980, the festival was designated as an important intangible folk culture asset, and today, novel ideas are incorporated such as neputa for children and advance lanterns. The heroic themes of the kagamie, or framed pictures, at the front of the floats, contrast with the simple elegance of the ogi-neputa or fan-shaped back-facing theme and the traditional kumi-neputa with their magnificent three-dimensional constructions. As the floats are carried through the town, musicians provide a unique air to the festivities with their flute and drum accompaniment.

Please note that events are subject to change.

Use the JR EAST PASS to travel to the Hirosaki Neputa Festival at great savings.

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Aomori Nebuta Festival – Aomori Prefecture

Aomori Nebuta Festival – Aomori Prefecture

Dates and times Sunday, August 2 to Friday, August 7, 2015

Sunday, August 2 and Monday, August 3, 2015
7:10 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.:
Children's and large combined nebuta procession

Tuesday, August 4 to Thursday, August 6, 2015
7:10 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.:
Large nebuta procession

Friday, August 7, 2015
1:00 p.m. to about 3:00 p.m.:
Large nebuta procession
Marine nebuta procession: 7:15 p.m. to about 9:00 p.m.
Fireworks display: 7:15 p.m. to about 9:00 p.m.
Locations Aomori City, Aomori Prefecture
Downtown Aomori City
Fees The festivals are all free, but paid pavilion seating is also available
Links

Aomori Nebuta Festival Official Site

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Things to see at the festivals

Rassera! The haneto dancers weave around the nebuta!

The Aomori Nebuta Festival is counted as one of the three great Tohoku festivals, and it attracts some three million people from around Japan and other nations each year. In 1980, the Aomori Nebuta Festival was designated by Japan as an important intangible folk culture asset. The nebuta is a magnificent float made by attaching Japanese washi paper to a wire frame. Dancers called haneto weave among the nebuta, dancing and yelling out their trademark "Rassera!" call in a loud voice. There are a number of shops where the proper attire for a haneto dancer can be obtained, so visitors can also dress up and take part in the dancing.

During the parade, a series of gigantic nebuta, some as large as 9 meters wide, 5 meters tall and 7 meters deep, pass through the town, one after the other. The internally illuminated nebuta seem to float in the air through the dark night like something from another world.

Please note that events are subject to change.

Use the JR EAST PASS to travel to the Aomori Nebuta Festival at great savings.

JR EAST PASS

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Goshogawara Tachi Neputa – Aomori Prefecture

Goshogawara Tachi Neputa – Aomori Prefecture

Dates and times Tuesday, August 4 to Saturday, August 8, 2015
Starting about 7:00 p.m.:
Tachi Neputa procession
Locations Goshogawara City, Aomori Prefecture
Downtown Goshogawara
Fees The festivals are all free, but paid pavilion seating is also available
Links

Tachi Neputa-no Yakata (in Japanese only)

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Things to see at the festivals

Yatte-mare! The March of the Giant Neputa!

The neputa of Goshogawara Tachi neputa are about the same as those in the Aomori or Hirosaki festival, but they are much taller. Called tachi neputa, these gigantic floats rise to some 22 meters high and can weigh up to 17 tons. As the parade winds through the streets of Goshogawara City, everyone cheers "Yatte-mare, yatte-mare!"

When power lines and utility poles were put up around Goshogawara Station, the tachi neputa would get caught every year, causing power outages, so the lines were buried underground.

Please note that events are subject to change.

Use the JR EAST PASS to travel to the Goshogawara Tachi Neputa Festival at great savings.

JR EAST PASS

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Morioka Sansa Odori – Iwate Prefecture

Morioka Sansa Odori – Iwate Prefecture

Dates and times Saturday, August 1 to Tuesday, August 4, 2015
6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. (scheduled):
Traditional sansa circle dance
The captivating sansa parade
The fun sansa circle dance
(Main venue on Chuo-dori)
Locations Morioka City, Iwate Prefecture
Chuo-dori street
Fees The festivals are all free, but paid pavilion seating is also available
Links

Official Morioka Sansa Odori Brochure [PDF/3.5MB]

A Trip to Iwate

Things to see at the festivals

After the world's finest drum parade, everyone joins in for circle dancing!

The best thing about the Morioka sansa odori or dance is the synchronous Japanese drum (taiko) performances, listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest drum parade in the world.

On the final day of the festival, all of the participating drum groups form the greatest drum parade in the world with nothing but drums, and mark the end of the festivities with circle dancing, open to participants and spectators alike. This is a great opportunity to create a memorable trip.

Please note that events are subject to change.

Use the JR EAST PASS to enjoy Morioka Sansa Odori at great savings.

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Akita Kanto Festival – Akita Prefecture

Akita Kanto Festival – Akita Prefecture

Dates and times Monday, August 3 to Thursday, August 6, 2015
Monday, August 3 to Thursday, August 6, 2015
Main nighttime event – Kanto Odori street
The performance goes from about 7:00 p.m. to about 8:50 p.m.
Tuesday, August 4 to Thursday, August 6, 2015
Daytime kanto (Myogi-kai at the Area Nakaichi Nigiwai Hiroba)
9:20 a.m. to 3:20 p.m. (scheduled)
Locations Akita, Akita Prefecture
Kanto Odori street (evening)
The Area Nakaichi Nigiwai Hiroba (Daytime Myogi-kai)
Fees The festivals are all free, but paid pavilion seating is also available
Links

Akita Kanto Festival

Akitafan.com

Things to see at the festivals

Praying for a good harvest! Lantern poles wave about like heavy ears of rice during the biggest festival in Akita Prefecture

One of the three great Tohoku festivals and the largest in Akita Prefecture, the Akita Kanto Festival brings together wishes for a bountiful harvest and the neburi nagashi rite, passed on from the days of yore, for purification and protection from evil spirits. To the cheering of "Dokkoisho!" performers carry out feats of strength and skill while balancing lantern poles weighing 50 kilograms on the palms of their hands, their forehead, shoulders, waist and more.

Akita Prefecture is known for growing the best rice in the Tohoku area, and the lantern poles that hang heavily with a total of 250 or more lanterns made to resemble bales of rice lined up along Kanto Odori is a scene that conjures up the image of the sun hitting rice plants bent over with the weight of ears of ripe rice.

One of the best events is the daytime feats of skill "Myogi-kai", where performers compete in six-meter rings.

Please note that events are subject to change.

Use the JR EAST PASS to enjoy the Akita Kanto Festival at great savings.

JR EAST PASS

As of June 2015.
Prices, business hours, transportation and other details are subject to change.

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