Mitsubishi Public Affairs Committee

© Jiji Press Photo

The Aomori Nebuta Festival              The Akita Kanto Festival

The Sendai Tanabata Festival The Yamagata Hanagasa Festival

A variety of summer festivals are held throughout Japan each year, of which the Four Major Tohoku Festivals rank as some of the best known and most colorful.
     The festivals kick off with the Aomori Nebuta Festival, the highlight of which is the daily parade of enormous lantern floats, flanked by large taiko drums, musicians and haneto dancers who leap, spin and dance their way through the streets of Aomori City chanting gRassera.h The Akita Kanto Festival follows: the crowds are attracted by the kanto pole lanterns, 12 meters tall and weighing 50 kilos, which young men wearing white tabi socks balance on their shoulders, on their hips and their foreheads. Hanging from the poles over 10,000 chochin paper lanterns form a river of light that appears to flow down the streets.
     The Yamagata Hanagasa Festival is led by a float decorated to celebrate the Zao-gongen Budhisattva, accompanied by dancing girls dressed in colorful costumes and holding hanagasa flower hats adorned with the benibana safflower unique to the prefecture. The chant of gYassho! Makkasho!h is accompanied by the jovial beat of the hanagasa-daiko drums as it echoes into the summer night sky. Bringing the curtain down is the Sendai Tanabata Festival, which is a celebration of the beauty of bamboo and Japanese paper. Elaborate handmade streamers and other props adorn the bamboo poles, over 10 meters in length, as participants vie to create the most magnificent effect. The Tanabata Festival attracts over two million tourists a year.