Aomori Fireworks Display culminates the last day of Aomori Nebuta Festival, one of the three most magnificent festivals in the Tohoku region. In Nebuta Festival, a gigantic lantern floats called “Nebuta” illustrated with historic figures and pictures of samurai warriors in Kabuki dramas parade through the city to the music of ohayashi, accompanied by the Haneto dancers.
On the last day of the festival, the five Nebuta floats, which are awarded the prizes given to excellent floats, are placed on boats and go slowly through the sea in Aomori Bay. Then thousands of fireworks are continuously shot up to illuminate the colorful Nebuta floats. The combined beauty of colors and lights emitted from Nebuta floats and fireworks makes the spectators forget about the footsteps of approaching autumn. People are reminded of the short summer of the north land by the fantastic spectacles created by 9,000 fireworks and the Nebuta lanterns.
Tachineputa Festival is held from August 4 to 8 every year in Goshogawara City in Aomori Prefecture. This traditional festival had been discontinued until about 80 years ago and was revived in 1998. Together with the Neputa festivals held in the cities of Aomori and Hirosaki, it is counted as one of the three big Neputa festivals in Aomori Prefecture.
The Neputa festival in Goshogawara was started by wealthy merchants in the towns during the middle of the Meiji period (1868-1912). It featured the parade of gigantic Neputa floats. However, in the Taisho period (1912-1926), the Neputa floats had to be diminished in size due to the spread of the electric cables. With their miniaturization, the popularity of Neputa also declined.
In 1993, the old design drawings of the floats were discovered, and the Tachineputa Reproduction Association was established. Today, they are restored to the original size of more than 20 meters in height, which is as tall as a seven-story building.
The magnificent parade of these colorful and gigantic floats goes through the streets of the city with the valiant shout of “Yattemare!” which astounds spectators.
Maebashi Festival held in the middle of October every year in Maebashi City, Gunma Prefecture is a lively festival enjoyed by all the citizens of the city. Together with Hatsuichi (First Market of New Year) Festival and Tanabata Festival (Star Festival), it is counted as one of the city’s three biggest festivals.
The Maebashi Festival was first named the Reconstruction Festival when it began after World War II. Later in 1959, the name was changed to the present name and it has become a city festival in which citizens as well as many companies and organizations in the city participate.
On the main shopping streets, the citizens enjoy various events such as the marching parade composed of all the elementary school bands of the city, the wind music concert by junior high school students, Yagi-bushi and folk dances, and gorgeous parade of mikoshi (portable shrine) and floats.
The highlight is “Maebashi Danbee Dance” performed by a few thousands people. It was created in 1995 by modeling after the Nebuta Festival Dance in Aomori, Yosakoi Naruko Dance in Kochi and Yosakoi Soran-bushi in Hokkaido. Raising their arms high and shaking the bells in their hand, people enjoy the powerful Danbee dance. It has become the most popular attraction of the festival.
Fukue Harbor Festival is held on September 30 and October 1 every year on Fukue Island, the largest land mass in the Goto Archipelago in Nagasaki Prefecture. The festival features a variety of events such as the Goto Haiya Soran Dance parade of the citizens, the Enjo-Daiko drum performance and the fireworks display. The highlight is the Goto Nebuta Parade, in which 3,000 citizens and more than ten Nebuta lantern floats participate to attract the spectators along the streets.
The Nebuta Festival on Fukue Island was introduced from Aomori Prefecture in 1977. Since then, a variety of lantern floats such as “The Boat of the Envoys to Tang China” and “Japanese Pirates’ Ship” have been made to join the parade. These themes are peculiar to the Goto Archipelago, where international exchange with China had been promoted since the 16th century. The Nebuta Parade starts at 7:00 PM with the powerful call of “Rasse! Rasse! Rasse-ra!” The group of people called “Haneto” jump and dance around each float.
Hazuki is a Japanese traditional name for August on the old calendar. Hazuki (葉月) literally means “a leaf month.”
There are several theories concerning its origin. One theory states that as it falls on September to October on the Gregorian calendar, it is the month of falling leaves. Another states that it is a pun for “Inagarizuki,” which means the month when ears of rice plants swell, and still another staes that it is a pun for “Harizuki.” August on the lunar calendar is also called “Tsukimi-zuki (a moon-viewing month),” for it is the month when Chushu no meigetsu (a beautifu mid-autumn moon) can be viewed.
In the Tohoku region, a large and famous annual festivals such as Aomori Nebuta Festival (Aug. 2nd-7th), Akita Kanto Festival (Aug. 4th-8th), and Sendai Tanabata Festival are held, and people enjoy short summer
Nebuta Festival is a kind of Tanabata festival (Star Festival) held at many places in the Tohoku Region, among which the one in Aomori is the most famous. Aomori Nebuta Festival takes place from August 2 to 7 in the city of Aomori. The Nebuta Festival features a parade of huge lanterns in the shape of samurai warriors. The lanterns are made with wooden, bamboo or wire frames and covered with brightly colored papier-mâché and placed on floats that are pulled by people. Around each float are the group of people called haneto accompanied by flute and drum players. It’s a magnificent festival of more than twenty floats parading along the same route in the city. The highlight of the festival is hanetos’ wild dancing. According to one theory concerning its origin, Aomori Nebuta is the modification of Toronagashi (floating lanterns), a part of Tanabata customs and that is why the best three floats are taken to the sea and placed on ships for a cruise. It was in the post-war period that Aomori Nebuta Festival began to be held on a large scale. Now it is managed as a part of the prefecture’s tourism business.
The Hirosaki Neputa, a summer festival held in Hirosaki, Aomori Prefecture, is one of the four major festivals in Hirosaki. The people of Hirosaki parade throughout the city towards the call of "Yahh-Yahh-Do", pulling the parade floats of warrior figures and warrior paintings. Around 70 neputa parade floats, including the ougi-neputa (a fan-shaped neputa) and kumi neputa (a man-shaped neputa), run during the festival.
It is told that neputa beganin the second year of the Bunroku period (1593), when the patriarch Tamenobu Sato held a huge, 2 ken square-sized lantern (approximately 3.62meters square) in the Urabone festival during his stay in Kyoto.
There are a variety of tastes in today’s Hirosaki Neputa, such as Kodomo-Neputa (Children’s Neputa), and Mae-Tourou (lantern with letters on the front side). The dynamic beauty of these floats overwhelms the viewer. The powerful Kagamie is displayed on the front, and the fascinating beauty Miokurie appears on the back.
The Hirosaki Neputa wasdesignated an important intangible folk-cultural property of the country in 1980 (Showa 55).