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Tohoku 3 Great Summer Festival Tours

Tohoku 3 Great Summer Festival Tours

Bring on the summer heat by celebrating at Japan’s best summer festivals. The Tohoku region is renowned for its “Three Great Summer Festivals”, which are the Aomori Nebuta Festival, the Akita Kanto Festival, and the Sendai Tanabata Festival. These lively festivals attract millions of visitors annually. Check out what makes each of them unique and how you can join in all the excitement in one Japan trip.

AOMORI NEBUTA
The annual fiery parade at the Aomori Nebuta Festival revolves around huge lantern-lit floats accompanied with high-spirited “haneto” dancers. The colorful three- dimensional floats take after brave warrior figures derived from Japanese mythology and legends, and resemble to kabuki characters. There are 20 enormous floats, all pushed by human participants and are waved back and forth. They each include teams of haneto dancers dressed in formal wear, who chant “Rasse-ra!” along to festival music and perform dances similar to skipping. Musicians who play the taiko drums, as well as flute and cymbal players also parade next to the platforms.
The Aomori Nebuta Festival takes place from August 2 to 7 annually, where the floats parade throughout the town every night except the last day. Instead, the floats are displayed during the afternoon on the final day of the festival. This also includes a boat parade and fireworks display to conclude the festivities. The first couple days of the festival are somewhat smaller displaying only two- thirds of the floats, compared to the leading days afterwards, where the celebration is at its peak and all 20 floats are displayed. You can find free seating on the ground along the 3.1 km (1.9 mi) parade route, as well as tickets for reserved seating through convenience stores or Ticket Pia.

AKITA KANTO
Drawing over 1 million people every year, the Akita Kanto Festival highlights stunning performances of “sashite” who hold “kanto” poles. Kanto refers to long, vertical bamboo poles attached with horizontal poles cross-wise in order to hold stacks of paper lanterns, which are lit with real candles. The kanto pole itself represents stalks of rice, while the festival takes place to pray for health, safety, and wishes for a bountiful harvest. The main attraction is the Night Parade, where numerous group of kanto performers raise up approximately 250 poles at the same time after a signal is given. The festival is held every year from August 3 to 6.
Kanto poles vary in size. One of the largest of these poles reaches an astonishing height of 12m (40 ft.) and weighs nearly 50kg (110 lbs). The “sashite” show off their impressive abilities by supporting these tall polls using 5 different skills. 4 of them include “palm”, “forehead”, “shoulder”, and “hip”, where the performers support the kanto poles on these designated parts of their body. The 5th, known as “nagashi”, consists of steadying the poles so they may pass it on to the next sashite. The sashite change every few minutes or so, adding extensions to the poles until the kanto reaches its maximum height. The event lasts around 90 minutes. Attendees are encouraged to take photos and chat with the performers afterwards.

SENDAI TANABATA
Giant, colorful streamers gracefully flutter the streets during the brilliant Sendai Tanabata Festival. Ranging from 3 to 5 meters in length, these vibrant decorations are handcrafted by local communities, shops, and schools. The streamers are made from various colors of washi paper and bamboo, then hung from 10 meter tall poles to parade the city’s shopping arcades. The festival is held on August 6 to 8 every year, with a spectacular fireworks show that takes place the night prior to the start of the festival.
Smaller decorations are also featured in the celebration, each representing a different meaning. Ornaments that include kimono are meant to ward off bad health and accidents, a net symbolizes plentiful harvests, purses are for good business, trash bags stand for cleanliness, and cranes express health, safety, and a long life. Additionally, paper strips mean good handwriting, which are often written with people’s wishes. When you are finished strolling through the brightly-colored decorations, there are other festivities you can enjoy too. These include lively stage performances, traditional instruments and music, various food vendors, and more.

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