Japan’s foremost splendid and majestic summer festival
Proud and gigantic nebuta floats, created with the utmost care by artisans, are paraded through the streets as performers dance about in haneto wear and loudly yell “Rasse-ra-!” The sounds of powerful wadaiko drums and jaunty flutes echo throughout the venue and the energy of the festival reach as high as the mountaintops. All of the floats are rated and the winners are paraded on boat on the final day of the festival to provide a splendid finale. There is a special scenery created with this parade of nebuta on the sea as 9000 fireworks are going off in the background. Its popularity is boasted through its brilliance and courage. 3 million tourists come to the city of Aomori with a population of 300,000, so it’s not an exaggeration to claim that the festival is one of the foremost in Japan.
The stars of the festival: the nebuta and the haneto
Nebuta are lanterns that are modeled after human figures with washi paper being adhered to a wire framework. Nebuta specialists known as nebuta-shi follow a meticulous process in creating nebuta which involves 3 months and as many as 2500 pieces of washi. Along with the development of the festival, the nebuta have also grown in size so even huge nebuta with dimensions of 9x7x5 meters appear. The vehicles which support the nebuta operate with large-scale axles and tires, and generators used for the lighting are equipped. The festival is a massive undertaking as about 300 nebuta-shi are involved in the making of just one nebuta. What also cannot be missed are the dancers known as haneto. Garbed in flashy costumes and flowery hats, the haneto nimbly dance about while shouting in an activity that anyone can join in. However, please be aware that to participate as a haneto, you have to wear the official haneto costume. The costumes are sold in department stores within the city, and there are even rental services plus assistance in putting on the costume.