The Aomori Nebuta Festival, which takes place every summer between the 2nd and 7th of August, is one of the biggest & most anticipated festivals in Japan, with more than 3 million tourists attending each year.
The exact origins of the Nebuta Festival are unknown, but it is often speculated that the floats were first designed by General Sakanoue-no-Tamuramaro and his troops out of cloth and bamboo in the 800’s, as a way to scare away the enemy. Overtime, the sizes, shapes, and colors of these floats evolved into what is seen at today’s Nebuta Festival.
The floats themselves, are made out of bamboo and wooden frames that are covered with meticulously illustrated washi paper, which are then illuminated from inside and set up on floats or cars. The size of the largest Nebuta (giant paper lantern-like float) has a width of approximately 9 meters, a height of 5 meters, and a depth of 8 meters. These elaborate, vibrant floats feature images of famous Japanese historical figures, gods, kabuki actors, and mythological creatures, along with birds and beasts.
Locals will spend the entire year, leading up to the event, working on these magnificent floats, but their hard work pays off when what they’ve created is able to be enjoyed and celebrated by all of the cheerful festival goers. The striking floats, coupled with the energetic performers who dance along to the booming sounds of the drums and festival music, make for an unforgettable summer memory.
＊The festival was designated as an Important Intangible Folk Cultural Property in 1980.