Aomori Nebuta Matsuri: Japanese Summer FestivalCulture
Tohoku's Aomori Nebuta Matsuri is back again this year. Every year over 3 million visitors from around the world participate: why not join them?
What is the Aomori Nebuta Matsuri?
For six days, from August 2nd-7th every year, roughly twenty large nebutas (a type of float) are set up for the Aomori Nebuta Matsuri.
It is one of Japan's most intense festivals, with vivid nebuta, which carry person-shaped lanterns; Nebuta Hayashi, with taiko drums, whistles, and hand held gongs; and the Haneto, who leap and dance while singing “Rasse! Rasse!”
The themes are renewed every year, taken from historic tales, kabuki, and legends. You will never see the same nebuta twice: the coloration and expression of each mask made by every producer (craftsman) is different.
The History of the Aomori Nebuta Matsuri
Its origins are not entirely clear, but is said that it could be a variation of the Toro nagashi (floating laterns in the water) of the Tanabata Matsuri.
It is possible that it is a combination of the Tanabata Matsuri, which arrived in Japan from China in the Nara Period, and the native events of Tsugaru, such as the seireiokuri (sending off the spirits of the dead), puppets, and mushiokuri (an event to ward off insects), which evolved into using lanterns with the spread of paper, bamboo, and candles.
What are Haneto?
Haneto are the dancers at the Aomori Nebuta Matsuri.
They sing “Rasse! Rasse!” to the tune of the Nebuta Hayashi, while they leap and dance. It is a simple dance that anyone can learn, in which they hop twice on one foot at a time.
You Can Become a Haneto and Join In
Anyone can join in with the Haneto, no need for registration; you just need to wear the Haneto outfit.
These are available to rent, which makes it easy for even people new to the area to participate.
For details and information on how to join, please see the URL below.
The Nebuta Warasse
There is a tourist spot in Aomori City you can visit to see Nebuta, even when the Nebuta Matsuri is not being held.
The Nebuta Warasse is one minute of foot from the JR Aomori Station. It has an exhibit of four nebuta that have been used in the festival,
and not only do they introduce the history and interesting points of the Nebuta Matsuri, it also offers the chance to see a Nebuta Hayashi performance, experience hayashi, and experience Haneto.
Aomori Nebuta Matsuri
Date and time: August 2nd (Fri) - 7th (Wed)
2nd - 3rd : 19：10～21：00 Children’s Nebuta/Large Nebuta Procession
4th - 6th : 19：10～21：00 Large Nebuta Procession
7th : 13：00～15：00 Large Nebuta Procession
19：15～21：00 Aomori Fireworks Event/Water Nebuta Procession
Venue: The central area of Aomori City
Access: Train – 10 minutes on foot from the JR Aomori Station
Car – 15 minutes on the Aomori IC
Official Homepage: Aormori Nebuta Matsuri Official Site http://www.nebuta.jp/