Aomori Nebuta Festival

  

Aomori Nebuta Festival

Just a train ride from Tokyo lies the city of Aomori, which comes to life every year with an explosion of giant illuminated floats. This spectacular display of lanterns takes place during the Aomori Nebuta Festival. In Japanese, the word “Nebuta” means lantern, which doesn't measure up to the grandeur of the illuminated paper floats. The Aomori Nebuta Festival has been designated as an Important Intangible Folk Cultural Properties of Japan in 1980.

Up to five metres tall and painted with scenes of battling shogun warriors, this massive illuminated paper floats are the epicentre of this festival, which is held every year in August. More than 3 million visitors from all over the country and abroad flock to this Japanese fire festival to witness the massive nebutas - lantern floats based - parade through the city of Aomori. On the night of the 7th, the nebutas are placed in boats as they float around the Aomori Bay with the backdrop of fireworks lighting up the night sky as the great finale to the festival.
The festival's popularity amongst locals and tourists alike is considerable. Most of Aomori locals as well as some tourists get kitted out in haneto kimonos and neon-bright hats. Dressed in their costumes, revellers are part of the festival's spectacle as they dance along the procession route. Even the jingling bells hanging from the costumes are designed to lure onlookers into the fold. Watch out for the bells that fall on the ground; if you find one, pick it up. They are said to bring you good luck. If you want to join in the fun, you can either hire or a haneto costume or even buy one from most local supermarkets and department stores.
Although the origin of the festival remains unknown, it is thought to have originated from the Tanabata festival from China. Accordingly, it is believed that the Tanabata Festival and the cultural traditions of Tsugary region blended together, which prompted people to make lanterns with paper, bamboo, and candle, which, with the passage of time, changed its shape and size to the current nebuta.
Historically, the nebutas were made by the people of different towns and were passed on through generations. Today, it is more common for nebutas to be made by businesses and organisations. The origin of the denomination as a fire festival comes from the times when the lanterns were lit with candles.
The festival takes place in the central part of Aomori-shi, from the 2nd of August until the 7th every year. The first of August, however, is also a time of celebration with the Asamushi Onsen Fireworks Festival. From the 2nd to the 3rd, there is the Parade of Large Nebutas. On the 7th, you can witness the Aomori Nebuta Ocean Parade, Aomori Fireworks Festival.
While you are in Aomori, you might want to visit the Nebuta Museum Wa Rasse, Sannai-Maruyama Ruins, Hakkoda Ropeway, Aomori Gyosai Centre, Aomori Museum of art, and the A-Factory. Some of the points of interest include Aomori Shummi Kan, Aomori Keirin, Snow Corridor, Showa Daibutsu, Aomori Bay Bridge, Fresh Market, and Hakkoda Ikoi no Bokujo.

 

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