A festival of profound depth with music and shouting that have been selected as one of The 100 Soundscapes of Japan
Magically decorating the summer nights, neputa floats of varying size parade down in a long procession. The Hirosaki Neputa Festival is popular as a summer festival filled with spirit that can only be found in a castle town. There are various rumors as to the origins of the festival, but it probably began from a farming event known as the Nemuri Nagashi to ward off sleepiness and neglect that would stymie farm work in the summer, and currently it is a custom in which water is used to wash away disaster and sin. Nationally recognized as an Important Intangible Folk Cultural Property, the festival sounds created from the dignified performances of the Tsugaru Joppari Taiko Drums whose instruments can reach diameters of3.3 meters and the accompanying flutes, and the shouting have been recognized as one of The 100 Soundscapes of Japan.
The Hirosaki Neputa Festival with neputa floats of various shapes
One feature of the Hirosaki Neputa Festival is the parade of 80 neputa floats of varying sizes, each with their own particular pattern and shape. That number of 80 is the largest in the Tohoku region. The gigantic lanterns that are known as neputa take on various shapes such as fans with paintings of brave warriors and those of people. The parade is based on tradition and with the massive drums of the Tsugaru Joppari Taiko leading the way, groups first bring the smaller neputa before the large neputa trail in. The large-scale neputa can reach sizes of 9 meters and several tons, and the gallant appearance of the men pulling these floats is truly impressive.
The Nanukabi Okuri to finish the festival
During the time of the festival, a variety of events bring the entire city alive such as the Hiro-Ko Neputa at the morning market at Hirosaki Park and Hirosaki High School, and the Chibikko Neputa for children. And then the icing on the cake for the festival is the Nanukabi Okuri. On the final day, the neputa are all burned on the banks of the Iwaki River. The sight of the flames on the dark banks and the neputa fading as they burn is a dramatic and lively way to end the festival which will leave a big impression.