Aomori Nebuta Festival
Every summer, more than two million people flock to northern Tohoku to witness the magic of the Aomori Nebuta Festival. Held in Aomori City, the festival is a spellbinding display of massive illuminated floats that parade through the town from August 2-7.
This mesmerizing festival is said to derive from the Tanabata festival, a lantern-floating ritual that came to Japan in the 8th century from China. Participants of all ages come from far and wide to dance in traditional costumes alongside taiko drummers and flute players. One of the three most important festivals in the Tohoku region, the Aomori Nebuta Festival was named an Important Intangible Folk Asset of Japan in 1980.
The art of Nebuta dancing is a combination of the graceful movements of kabuki and the playful lantern dance of neighboring Hirosaki. The dancers skip and weave between the mammoth floats, which tower five meters above the crowds. These friendly giants can take an entire year to construct, made from finest washi paper and hand painted down to the smallest detail. As the sun sets, the floats come alive with vibrant colors and the chants of the dancers create a sensory treat for the ears and eyes.