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Aomori Nebuta Festival Tours

Aomori Nebuta Festival Tours

Nebuta matsuri is a large papier mache lantern float parade in Aomori and is one of the three largest festivals in the Tohoku region.

The Nebuta matsuri (ねぶた祭) is a type of Tanabata festival held on August 2-7 every year. It is a type of parade with ginormous lantern floats. The largest of this type of festivity is in Aomori City where they attract millions of spectators over the course of the festival. Nebuta matsuri is one of the most colorful festivals in Japan. The themes of the floats are centered on folklore and myths. The origins of the festival are argued amongst historians. One theory is that it comes from the folk tradition of cleansing the spirit by transferring the impurities to dolls or lanterns. There is another one referencing to the laziness of the farmers because of the warmer summer months and how this festival came about to rid them of that feeling. Some historians say that there are a couple popular theories coming the legend of Sakanoue no Tamuramaro who was a warlord around the 800s. It is said that he hid soldiers in giant paper dolls to lure his enemies into a trap or made gruesome creatures out of cloth and bamboo to scare away the enemy. The Nebuta matsuri started back in the Edo period, but was banned at different times because the candles being used presented a fire hazard to a town that was made of wood back then. It was also banned during World War II as a way to conserve resource, but towards the end of the war the festival was brought back as a way to improve morale.

Today the floats are made of wire frames instead of bamboo and are illuminated with led lights. It usually takes 1 year to construct one of these floats and many of them are sponsored by companies. The maximum size of these lantern floats is 9 meters in width, 5 meters in height and 7 meters in depth. The reason is that the parade route goes through areas with telephone lines and other hanging materials, which puts a limit on the height. The best part of the Nebuta matsuri is that anyone can participate in the parade as a haneto dancer and chant “rassera, rassera” as long as they wear the proper clothing, which can be bought at any grocery store for 5000 yen or rented for 3000 yen. The setup of each float group goes with the haneto first, then the fan bearer who directs the Nebuta (float) to make it come alive, the hikite who move the float and the hayashi who are the musicians that play taiko drums, the flute and hand cymbals to match the theme of the float. There are awards given for a variety of categories, but the top three floats will be put on a ship on the last day and paraded around the bay. From August 2 to 3 there are small floats a few of the large ones. It is from August 4 to 6 that the festival hits its full swing, but the last day the floats will only appear in the day time.

Please see below for tours that include Aomori Nebuta Festival:

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